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There are some initialisms out there that are unpronouncable as words in any correct English sense (I found one today of SQRL). However the inventor of such terms force a word onto them, in this case:

The SQRL system (pronounced “squirrel”)

Unless you were aware of this term, and the authors intended pronunciation of it you would pronounce it as letters 'S-Q-R-L'. But that is not how the author intends. So, if these terms that would clearly be initialisms in any normal sense of the word, but have had a pronunciation forced upon them, can these be referred to as an Acronym?

(This is sort of related to the question: Does pronouncing an initialism make it an acronym?, although that post seems to stem from a misunderstanding of the difference between initialism and acronym so the answers reflect that misunderstanding rather than this particular situation)

marked as duplicate by Nick2253, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, Misti, Chenmunka Jan 14 '15 at 18:47

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  • Compare "SQL" (Structured Query Language), which is often pronounced as a homophone of "sequel": Wiktionary, for example, says that for speakers who pronounce it like "sequel", it is an acronym, but otherwise, it is an initialism. – senshin Jan 13 '15 at 21:56
  • For years I pronounced the name of the Unix visual editor vi (which I never used, being an ex fan) as /vɪ/. Come to find out it was called /vi'yay/ by the cognoscenti. – John Lawler Jan 13 '15 at 22:09
  • And Linux, of course, isn't pronounced the way everyone pronounces it. – Hot Licks Jan 13 '15 at 22:11
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    @HotLicks: Linux is is fact pronounced the way everyone pronounces it, by definition: Torvald has no more control than the Sorceror's Apprentice. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymological_fallacy. – TimLymington Jan 14 '15 at 16:03
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    @TimLymington yes indeed. Another case in point is the image file format GIF. The inventor can say it should be pronounced 'jiff' all he wants, but the community over the last 20 years has already had its say. – JonW Jan 14 '15 at 16:06
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Unless you were aware of this term, and the authors intended pronunciation of it you would pronounce it as letters 'S-Q-R-L'.

No I wouldn't. When I looked at this page the letters SQRL stood out because they were capitals and a different colour. I read them as "squirrel".

My wife is not a programmer and so not familiar with SQL and has neither heard nor read much of about it nor knew that it was originally called SEQUEL before a trademark dispute forced a name change. On seeing materials of mine with the letters she at first pronounced it "squeal". Now she pronounces SQL as "squeal, oh wait that's not right, what is it again? (There should be a language called squeal)".

People are used to reading words, and they'll very often arrive at them given only half an opportunity. It's realted to teh way msot ppl can unedrtsand tihs.

But that is not how the author intends.

That only goes so far either way. People tend to only respect coiners wishes so far. Likely some people will pronounce SQRL ess cue are el, while conversely if the creators insisted that was the correct pronunciation some people would pronounce it squirrel.

(And if they insisted SQRL was pronounced "donkey fish" they wouldn't have a chance).

So, if these terms that would clearly be initialisms in any normal sense of the word

It clearly is an initialism because it comes from initials. NATO, laser and scuba are initialisms for the same reason. It's not exclusive to being an acronym.

but have had a pronunciation forced upon them,

Actually, how do you know the note on pronunciation wasn't the creator conceding to others?

can these be referred to as an Acronym?

Yes. There are definitions of acronym that exclude those pronounced as spelled-out and definitions that do not, but either way, yes.

  • When I saw the first mention of SQRL here, I pronounced it as squall. – Andrew Leach Jan 14 '15 at 7:26
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    +1 for a sensible discussion, and another +1 for the "typos" (how long before someone tries to edit?). But definitely +1 for your wife's pronunciation of SQL, which is obviously the correct one. – TimLymington Jan 14 '15 at 16:07

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