I've always seen "UTC" expanded as Coordinated Universal Time. In addition, both the Wikipedia and Encyclopædia Britannica entries, as well as pretty much every reference to it I've ever seen that I can remember, spells it as such.

However, I often write diphthongs with diæreses. And, although for most if not all practical purposes I think most people would understand quite clearly what I mean if I write it as Coördinated Universal Time, from a technical standpoint is it the same thing?

After all, Coordinated Universal Time is a proper noun, which means it has a more rigid linguistic identity than common nouns, which can have homonymic alternatives; proper nouns often are less likely to have as such.


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    I think the convention of using diaeresis is fading; even old stalwarts like the New Yorker are using them less. As a consequence, I believe using diacritical marks in English, if it has any effect at all, will more likely serve to confuse than clarify. By a similar train of thought, I rarely if ever see UTC expanded at all. It's one of those acronyms where everyone "knows what it means" but no one knows what it stands for. In a way, the unexpanded acronym is the standard symbol to indicate the timezone. It stands on its own, opaque and not subject to analysis. – Dan Bron Sep 21 '15 at 16:39
  • That's fine, but I'm not asking whether anyone thinks I should use the diæresis; I'm asking if I can use it, in particular by virtue of its nature as a proper noun. – SarahofGaia Sep 21 '15 at 16:43
  • The New Yorker magazine would likely spell it "Coördinated", but I'd be quite surprised to encounter that spelling in any other US publication. (But I see Dan Bron has already mentioned that.) – Hot Licks Sep 21 '15 at 17:07
  • Yes. But usage does not necessarily imply adherence when it comes to a distinct morphological framework. I'm asking if you can *technically* still say Coördinated Universal Time is the same proper noun as Coordinated Universal Time, based on the definition of "proper noun". Whether the New Yorker does it or not is irrelevant; I'm asking a question of theoretical limitations here. Not empirical limitations. – SarahofGaia Sep 21 '15 at 19:20
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    @SarahofGaia There isn't morphological question here; just an orthographic one. And my sense is that your unease is well-placed. Proper nouns are fixed; dictated by their creators. I personally hate having to write "e. e. cummings" or "Yahoo! Answers", but I have to, because that's how they're spelled. – Dan Bron Sep 21 '15 at 21:12

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