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Is there a name to differentiate abbreviations that come before or after the word it refers to or relates to?

For example:

St. Michael's Church (In this situation St. always comes before St. ____ )
I picked him up on 5th st. (In this situation st. comes after its related word ____ st.)

  • Some abbreviations typically come before (Mr., Mrs., Mt.)
  • Some abbreviations typically come after (st., Inc.)
  • Some abbreviations might be in the middle (vs.)
  • Some abbreviations won't fit these categories (i.e., e.g., etc.)

Are there any terms to differentiate the different types of abbreviations (e.g. something like prefix and suffix abbreviations)?

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    An abbreviation goes in the same place as the word would go if it were not abbreviated. – Jim Dec 24 '14 at 6:10
  • @Jim - you may have misunderstood my question. I am developing some documentation for a Natural Language Processing algorithm. The placement of the abbreviation impacts the algorithm so it would be helpful if I could differentiate as Erik said in the comments to an answer below "abbreviations with different placements in relation to their referents" using position-specific terminology. – diasks2 Dec 24 '14 at 8:43
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    But Jim is showing you that a more logical question is 'Is there a name to differentiate words that come before or after the word they refer to or relate to?' And 'relate to' is too general a term for say 'premodifier' to always apply. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '14 at 11:27
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    I think the short answer to your question is "no," there is no taxonomy of abbreviations along those lines. – GoldenGremlin Jan 29 '16 at 3:40
  • In your question, I believe that 'i.e.' and 'e.g.' belong with 'Mr.', and 'etc.' belongs with 'Inc.'. – Mathieu K. Jan 29 '16 at 3:50
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An abbreviation is a direct replacement for a word.

'St.' is an abbreviation for 'Saint,' which is a title. A title is often associated with a name (Saint John Smith; John Smith, Medical Doctor) but that fact alone does not determine its positioning relative to that name. It is a case-by-case basis, depending on the title in question.

As @Jim says in his comment to your question, abbreviations go in the exact spot of the word they're replacing.

Is there a name to differentiate abbreviations that come before or after the word it refers to or relates to?

The word an abbreviation refers to is replaced by the abbreviation. The word that the abbreviation replaces is what relates to other words in the sentence. If you're abbreviating a title, you have an abbreviated title; a noun => an abbreviated noun. You can theoretically abbreviate any word you choose to. Its part-of-speech won't change.

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    Unfortunately, I think you've misinterpreted the thrust of the OP's question. He isn't asking for an explanation of what an abbreviation is, but wants to know if abbreviations with different placements in relation to their referents can be labelled using position-specific terminology. – Erik Kowal Dec 24 '14 at 7:54
  • Yes @ErikKowal that is correct. I am developing some documentation for a Natural Language Processing algorithm. The placement of the abbreviation impacts the algorithm so it would be helpful if I could differentiate as Erik said "abbreviations with different placements in relation to their referents" using position-specific terminology. – diasks2 Dec 24 '14 at 8:41
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    diasks2 You're using 'referent' in an unusual way here. St George's Sq is a multi-word compound with (when written this way) initial and final abbreviated terms. 'Nuits St. George' (I've only seen it with the period, so I'll comply) is a multi-word compound with the medial orthographic word abbreviated. As you see, this has two non-abbreviated components (which you misname 'referent/s'). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '14 at 11:54
  • @EdwinAshworth - sure, the "referent" or whatever it shall be called does not necessarily need to be one word. It could be part of a multi-word compound as I mentioned in my question as in the example of 'vs.' - i.e. The Dolphins vs. the Tigers. – diasks2 Dec 24 '14 at 14:48
  • The positioning of the abbreviated term in 'Nuits St. George' is not comparable linguistically with that of vs. in 'the Dolphins vs. the Tigers'. One is the middle orthographic word of a three-word proper name, a 'sealed unit'; the other is a preposition, part of a larger construction. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '14 at 17:44

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