3

I would like to know how I should write the abbreviation of a phrase, or an acronym.

To be more clear I give you an example:

Hosch is a german word, which is the abbreviation of the name of the founder of the company (Hans-Otto Schwarze). In this case, should I write it HOSCH or Hosch? Which one is correct?

migrated from writing.stackexchange.com Feb 27 '18 at 13:18

This question came from our site for the craft of professional writing, including fiction, non-fiction, technical, scholarly, and commercial writing.

  • Is it a common German noun? How it is spelt in German? – Weathervane Feb 26 '18 at 7:37
  • What makes you feel one is more correct than the other? – a CVn Feb 26 '18 at 9:04
  • Welcome to Writing.SE somia! I edited your title a bit to make it easier to find for others with a similar question. If you feel that I edited too much you can roll the edit back or edit further. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! – Secespitus Feb 26 '18 at 9:24
7

What you are trying to do is write an acronym (german wikipedia article). When writing a german acronym like you are doing here you normally capitalize only the first letter. It's called a Silbenwort (syllable word). Look at this example from the linked Wikipedia article:

Haribo für Hans Riegel aus Bonn
(Translation)
Haribo stands for Hans Riegel from Bonn

Another option is to use only the first letter and capitalize everything. Look at LASER:

LASER für Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

Your example is close to the first one, which means it should be:

Hosch für Hans-Otto Schwarze


Note that for example BAföG stands for Bundesausbildungsrderungsgesetz (law to support training/education) though. Here you can see that people were trying to denote the different nouns that are part of the composite word (Bund, Ausbildungsförderung (they could have split it into Ausbildung and Förderung and make the f uppercase, too, but that would slightly change the meaning as it's specifically the training that is supported), Gesetz). That means that if you have a single long word you have more leeway when it comes to writing uppercase and lowercase.


Note that companies can choose to write their name differently in their logo. Look for example at the Wikipedia article from Haribo (again in German). It shows the logo, which seems to be all uppercase, but the text mentions the name with only the first letter capitalized. When looking at the bottom of their website you will see everything capitalized again. The same is true for Hosch. I can't find a Wikipedia article on them and I don't know the company, so I would say writing their name should be similar to Haribo - meaning that only the first letter is capitalized, even if the Logo seems to suggest that every letter should be capitalized.

  • 1
    Interesting how in a question about capitalization, the word "German" has mysteriously gone uncapitalized in both the question and answer. Perhaps that's common in German, but it's not in English. (Also why is "logo" capitalized?) – Todd Wilcox Feb 26 '18 at 14:31
  • I'd been taught that all letters remain capitalized. I've also been taught that only capital letters remain capitalized.SCUBA is (I'm told) correct for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, and DoD for Department of Defese. It may vary by geography or other detail. – DPT Feb 26 '18 at 14:36
  • @ToddWilcox That's mainly because I sometimes get confused about capitalization when writing something in English ;) ("Logo" can be used in German for example and is written with an uppcase "L" because it's a noun) Thanks, I will edit this. – Secespitus Feb 26 '18 at 14:38
  • 1
    @DPT I wonder if "remain" is the word you want there. In the case of SCUBA or LASER (which are just as often written "scuba" or "laser" these days"), the original words would not be capitalized, so they wouldn't remain capitalized in acronym form, they would become capitalized. Words like "of", "by", "the", "and", etc. may have their first letter used as a capital in the acronym, used lower case, or omitted completely. Sometimes I see "DOD" and note that there is no "b" from "by" in LASER (or laser). – Todd Wilcox Feb 26 '18 at 14:44
  • @ToddWilcox Yes, true to all that. Common usage and 'proper' usage seems to vary and it also seems that 'proper' can change by area or over time. I've been taught variations of the rules, and they are not always consistent. Technical and scientific writing may also adhere to certain rules differently than popular writing. – DPT Feb 26 '18 at 14:53

Your Answer

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