4

At my job I have created an application which supplements the functions of the main system the employees use during the day. The main system is referred to with a Three Letter Abbreviation (TLA).

Because I wanted to be clever and memorable, I gave my application a friendly-sounding name (in theory at least, to native English speakers) which I created by adding vowels to the existing abbreviation. So the helper application for the TLA system is named "TeiLA" (not the actual letters or name, but the idea is the same).

This has created the desired result in that users say things like "Have you asked TeiLA for that information?" and even "TeiLA is my best friend!" I've been asked to talk about the work I've done and specifically to touch on name selection, except I don't know what to label what I did.

Is there a word or concise phrase which describes that action or process of transforming the letters into another name? Or, along the same lines, a word or concise phrase to describe the intent of making the name sound friendly or approachable to its users?

  • 3
    Since you added letters that almost make it sound like a name, and refer to it like it's a coworker, you might term it personification or anthropomorphism. It's not a perfect fit, but it may convey some of the idea. – vpn Mar 7 '17 at 19:59
  • @vanderpn anthropomorphism doesn't feel like a good fit, but the more generic personification seems like a good suggestion! – Wildcat Matt Mar 7 '17 at 20:15
  • 2
    Very informally, I've heard the term namify used for this kind of thing, generally in the context of parents who "namify" a word by changing letters around to make it look a bit less like the word and more like a name (e.g. They namified "madrigal" by spelling it "Madrigelle"). – 1006a Mar 7 '17 at 21:42
  • 1
    I will make something up. You wordified an acronym. – aparente001 Mar 8 '17 at 4:24
  • 1
    @vanderpn, would you care to add personification as an answer? – Wildcat Matt Mar 30 '17 at 17:57
2

You could call the way you have treated this acronym personification.

Merriam-Webster defines personification as:

attribution of personal qualities; especially, representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form

In your case, you have attributed the acronym with a human sounding name and a personal role in your office.

2

You have taken the initials of the application and encouraged people to use it as a pronounced acronym, perhaps by adding the extra letters in office communications about the application.

Whether initializations that are not pronounced are or are not acronyms is a matter of definition, but in general use most people would consider FBI an acronym, although the letters are pronounced individually. Any U.S.-based list of acronyms will include FBI and similar initializations. Whether a or an is used to precede such an acronym depends on whether it is pronounced as letters or as a word, with the indefinite article being chosen accordingly.
Consider the Screen Actors Guild. The elegant short-hand way to refer to this organization is "the Guild," but of course there are other guilds. It is abbreviated SAG. The Guild itself objects to pronouncing this as a word and would not use the phrase "a SAG meeting." Instead, they'd say "an SAG meeting," where SAG is pronounced ess-eh-gee.

1

I'll leave this here as a starting point since it's the closest thing I've been able to think of: familiarization.

As in, "TeiLA" is a familiarization of the name for the TLA widget system."

  • Generally, instead of adding this information as an answer, it's preferable to edit your original question. Since you're new, I don't know if you have this privilege yet, but just keep this in mind for future reference. Welcome to ELU :) – vpn Mar 7 '17 at 20:03
  • @vanderpn, Thanks for the heads-up, this preference seems to have some variance between Stack Exchange sites so I went with what I'm used to. – Wildcat Matt Mar 8 '17 at 15:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.