Word Ways


A. Ross Eckler


Suppose that one wishes to replace the words in a commonly-used list by abbreviations in order to save space in texts. How should the abbreviations be chosen in order to avoid confusion? At first blush, it would appear sufficient to ensure that each abbreviation is distinct form the others. But this is not enough; one should also require that (1) the abbreviation be formed according to specified rules, and (2) under those rules, the abbreviation could have been formed from only one member of the list.