August 21, 2006

Term for shifting plural s to the end of initialisms and acronyms?

One of Wade Dowdell's friends asked him, and he asked Caroline Henton, and Caroline asked us. I don't know the answer, so I'm asking the readers of Language Log, in the hopes that someone out there can tell me, so that I can tell ... well, you get the idea.

A friend has asked me the following question and I don't know the answer. Weapons of Mass Destruction is abbreviated WMDs, not WsMD. My friend wants to know if there is a name for this kind of transference of the plural ending to the end of the abbreviation, and if there is, what it is.

My only substantive contribution here is to observe that we could avoid the whole problem, in this case, by joining Ali G and Pat Buchanan in rendering the abbreviation for "weapons of mass destruction" as BLTs.

Posted by Mark Liberman at August 21, 2006 05:22 PM