This question references a suggested edit I rejected on Super User. The edit suggested that the a in

There's no way you're plugging any of those directly into a SATA interface.

be changed to an. The result would be

There's no way you're plugging any of those directly into an SATA interface.

Is this somehow grammatically correct? To me it appears just to be editing in order to work towards the badge awarded upon editing 80 posts.

  • 2
    No, as you say, the usual usage would be "a". The editor may have thought (erroneously) that "SATA" is pronounced "S-A-T-A". – Neil Coffey Oct 4 '13 at 15:37
  • If you pronounce the letters, S.A.T.A. then of course you want an. If you think of it as a word and pronounce "sata" to rhyme with "data", then you want a. Probably this choice should be left to the writer, since only he knows how he pronounced it. – GEdgar Oct 4 '13 at 15:37
  • Or to pronounce it as satta, which is what I'm used to hearing (I assume you pronounce data as dayta, though I've heard dahta). – Chris H Oct 4 '13 at 16:00
  • You can still view the edit alright. Everyone can. It's right there in your profile. – RegDwigнt Oct 4 '13 at 21:27
  • I came across the same a/an question in the New York Times when the text read "an NYTimes article stated...". Interesting, I would have written "a NYTimes". – user53735 Oct 8 '13 at 22:03

Well the other user was incorrect. He probably thought that SATA was pronounced S-A-T-A. If it was than an "an" in front of the "S" (es sound) is correct. But alas it is pronounced like Satan without the "n". So of course the "an" is silly. The user probably was trying to correct the grammar which is fine, they just don't have refined computer acronym knowledge.

  • 1
    In this case, but for SQL I think the other user would have been correct because I pronounce it "Ess Queue Ell" - though some of my co-workers pronounce it "Sequel", so they say "send me a SQL script" and I say "send me an SQL script". Is there any way to know for sure when someone sees a new acronym if it should be pronounced as a single word or spelled out letter by letter? – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Oct 4 '13 at 16:21
  • 4
    There are many acronyms that can go both ways like SQL. Then it is really up to the author. But SATA isn't ever spelled out so it is incorrect. If I were doing edits I wouldn't edit something like this unless I knew for sure... – RyeɃreḁd Oct 4 '13 at 16:24
  • 3
    I agree with your answer, but I’ve never heard anyone pronounce SATA as ‘sayta’—only with a short a, as ‘satta’ (like @ChrisH points out). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 4 '13 at 17:48
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - That is funny. I literally hear the word 20 times a week. Must be a regional thing. Where are you from? – RyeɃreḁd Oct 4 '13 at 17:51
  • 1
    This is all good reason to know the difference between an acronym and an initialism. – Tyler James Young Oct 8 '13 at 21:28

Speaking as a computer scientist, it is very common that acronyms such as SQL and SATA are pronounced as "sequel" and "serial ay-tee-ay". I've seldom come across "pass me an SATA cable" or "create an SQL database", it is usually pronounced as a full or partially-full word.

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