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I'm writing a technical document about Linux and I wonder if I should type "tty driver" or "TTY driver" ? Which one, if any, is right and what is the general grammatic to follow in these cases?

My actual sentence with the expression is:

The tty driver handles data that are sent between Linux’ tty and the modem card.

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    Looks like it's generally 'TTY', but there's a few cases of 'tty' (after a quick google) – marcellothearcane Jul 26 '17 at 9:18
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    Using upper case makes the plural easier, such as TLAs. With lower case there would be a temptation to use the "greengrocer's apostrophe" such as with tla's to indicate that the s is not part of the abbreviation. – Weather Vane Jul 26 '17 at 9:23
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    @marcellothearcane Strongly agree that the general term would be TTY. I suspect many tty mentions come from Unix-flavour operating systems where /dev/tty (and variants) are the file-like way of referring to a teletype, and where -- unlike Windows -- case in filenames matters. I would use upper case unless specifically referring to the file-system entity. – TripeHound Jul 26 '17 at 10:30
  • @TripeHound I accept that as an answer if you write it in an answer. – Niklas Rosencrantz Jul 26 '17 at 13:53
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The normal case for TTY (as an abbreviation of "teletype" among others) would be all upper-case (see the Teleprinter page on Wikipedia for some confirmation and some history).

In fact, the use of all upper-case for such abbreviations (be they acronyms or -- as in this case -- initialisms) is very common1 (see Initialisms at Oxford Dictionaries). Plurals and possessives are then formed in the normal way ("serveral TTYs in a row" or "the TTY's screen was broken").

However, on Linux and other flavours of Unix, your current "teletype" (or however you connect) is mapped in the file-system to the (pseudo) file /dev/tty. Because *nix filenames are case-sensitive, if you are explicitly referring to "the tty device" (meaning the pseudo-file, and possibly the device-driver code behind it) using lower-case would be more common.


1 I would have said all upper-case was near-universal (with the main exception being anything driven by marketing people looking to be "individual" or trendy). However, this Language Log entry at UPenn noted that there is (or was in 2008 when posted) a growing tendency in British newspapers to only use upper-case for the first letter. Not sure I've noticed this, but I try to avoid newspapers unless doing the crossword!

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