Abbreviations across English, Chinese, and Spanish

20 Jun

Abbreviations are relatively common in English, used for a variety of titles (Mr, Mrs) and for short versions of proper nouns (MN, USA, EU). The pattern for abbreviations in English tends to be pretty simple: either two letters that give the main sounds make a little word (such as doctor becoming Dr.), or the first letter of each of the important words combine to make a little phrase. So “bring your own beer” becomes BYOB. Simple.

In Chinese abbreviations are most common in the names of institutions, but they are a bit more chaotic. I am unaware of any pattern in Chinese abbreviations, and I think that generally the two most important characters are chosen. Examples include the such as Central University for Nationalities (中央学), which is normally shorted to 民大, and The People’s Republic of China (华人民共和国) is usually shortened to 中国. (Naming China is actually so complicated that there is a well-fleshed out wikipedia article devoted to it) Chinese abbreviations are difficult enough for outsiders to understand that I´ve never been able to just guess at their meaning, I’ve had to learn each one or have each one explained to me individually.


A little girl who was in a class of mine was named Dulce Maria, and her notebooks has Dulce Mª written on it.

In Spanish… I have no idea. Some things seem to mirror the English pattern of using the first letter of important words. For example La Union Europea becomes UE, and producto interno bruto becomes PIB. But I was surprised by abbreviations in some seemingly random words. Maria, which is a common name in Spain, is often shortened to Numero becomes , while segundo and tercer become  and 3erHermanos is sometimes shortened to hnos, while calle is shortened to C/. But in general I haven´t encountered many abbreviations in Spain. I am sure that any readers with a Spanish focus can provide more examples in the comments. Any more examples?

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