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Letter | Published:

Nature volume 547 , pages 355 359 (20 July 2017) | Download Citation

There appear to be conflicting conventions on the capitalisation of website. (I don’t either.) A related one is whether or not to hyphenate email, though this seems less contentious. Occasionally I do; usually I don’t.

I must admit: “E-mail” is another pet peeve of mine, though again, I do understand the rationale. Net functionality has become so commonplace that I think it makes far more sense to send an email about an interesting website than an E-mail about an interesting Web site. The latter feels too 1993.

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says:
August 11, 2009 at 2:57 am

When, at 24, I bravely plunged into full time English, barely knowing the basics, I would have gone back to my safe French corner, had I seen all the problems I could encounter with apostrophised plurals. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss! I trusted my eyes, my ears, my instinct and people’s indulgence. For me, from the beginning, it was very simple. Apostrophe ‘s meant possession, “My mothers’s dress.” A lone s meant plural, “The 30s”. It looked good that way. It still does! Reading your interesting post gave me comfort. I might have missed a few times, but not as often as it could have been.

Redundancies happen a lot in bilingual Canada. It was amusing to hear that my friend’s son was a head chef. I thought, “Better to have two than none!”

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Stan – I put an extra s to mother. I only had one really. Otherwise, it would have been dresses. Typo’s mistake. If there are others, please, let me know. Thank you.

Reply
says:
August 11, 2009 at 9:19 am

[…] here to see the original: Plurals of acronyms, abbreviations, initialisms and single letters « Sentence first Share and […]

Reply
says:
August 11, 2009 at 10:22 am

Sean: As is often the case with language, habit overrides sense! I’m glad you enjoyed the read.

Fran: Thank you. I am shocked that your sixth formers are shocked! Apostrophised plurals must be even more prevalent than I suspected. As I remarked elsewhere (today’s euphemism for Twitter), the trouble is that it’s a convention (with exceptions) rather than a rule, and a little confusion leads to a lot.

E: Thank you for your comment. I sympathise with your position, but I like to keep my options open when I reasonably may. For example, if I want to make a distinction between upper- and lower-case letters, then using upper and lower cases may be the most natural way to do this. I don’t want to deny myself that option in order to avoid the possibility that others will see a rule where there is only an exception to a convention! Everyone’s usage is their own responsibility. But there are reasonable arguments for various approaches, and a great deal depends on context, judgement and taste.

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A colleague related the following story: He was taking notes at a meeting that was attended by a fairly large group of people (about 20). As each person made a comment or presented information, he recorded the two-letter initials of the person who spoke. After the meeting was over, he was surprised to discover that all of the initials of the people in the room were unique! Nowhere in his notes did he write "JS said..." and later wonder "Was that Jim Smith or Joyce Simpson?"

My colleague asked, "If 20 random people are in a room, do they usually have different initials or is it common for two people to share a pair of initials?" In other words, was his experience typical or a rare occurrence?

The Distribution of Initials at a Large US Software Company

In order to answer that question, it is necessary to know the distribution of initials in his workplace.

Clearly, the distribution of initials depends on the population of the people in the workplace. In some cultures, names that begin with X or Q are rare, whereas in other cultures names that begin with those letters (when phonetically translated into English) are more common.

SAS is a large US software company with a diverse base of employees, so I decided to download the names of 4,502 employees that work with me in Cary, NC, and write a DATA step program that extracts the first and last initials of each name.

You can use the FREQ procedure to compute the frequencies of the first initial ( I1 ), the last initial ( I2 ), and the frequency of the initials taken as a pair. The following statements output the frequency of the initials in decreasing order:

As an example, I can display the relevant frequency for my initials (RW) as well as the initial of the SAS cofounders, Jim Goodnight and John Sall:

The initials "JS" are the most frequent initials in my workplace, with 61 employees (1.35%) having those initials. The initials "JG" are also fairly common; they are the 10th most popular initials. My initials are less common and are shared by only 0.4% of my colleagues.

If you want to conduct your own analysis, you can download a comma-separated file that contains the initials and frequencies.

You can use PROC SGPLOT to display bar charts for the first and last initials.

The bar charts show that J, M, S, D, and C are the most common initials for first names, whereas S, B, H, M, and C are the most common initials for last names.

In contrast, U, Q, and X are initials that do not appear often for either first or last names. For first initials, the 10 least popular initials cumulatively occur less than 5% of the time. For last initials, the 10 least popular initials cumulatively occur about 8% of the time.

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(edited) 23 days ago
Will B Goode
Going to the moon would be like the human race wandering into a cave full of monsters who have genius-level IQs. The moon is the cave you should stay away from.
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(edited) 24 days ago
Dragonwolf
IPersonally I think they have not returned to the moon because they never went to the moon.
Mankind has always advanced on any achievment but not this one. Strange eh?
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(edited) 364 days ago
peckerwood808
with today's technology you would of thought we'd be having day trips to the moon
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0
(edited) 445 days ago
treborc
OK it's May the first, not fecking April
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+1
(edited) 403 days ago
Stephen Harrison
It must be if May thinks she can be Prime Minister.
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(edited) 476 days ago
GilStonebarger
oh good lord....not that it wouldn't make me the happiest man in the world..the real story is in antaarctica and the alien artifacts and building THERE
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(edited) 478 days ago
WorldInMotion
George Méliès documented it quite well with his impressive film created in 1902 called 'Le Voyage dans la Luna' ( in English called 'The Voyage to the Moon'), which in fact offers conclusive evidence that it was the French and not the Americans who were the first to get there and by 67 years. Just have a look at the film on YouTube. The craft used is a special bullet propulsion rocket. He shows these little green men who leap out from craters. It really is quite spectacular. It's Jules Verne who is said to have inspired things, much as Arthur C Clarke, Stanley Kubrick, John Wyndham, Doctor Strangelove, Orson Welles, Peter Oppenheimer, HG Wells and Frank Herbert did subsequently. It's all there.
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+1
(edited) 481 days ago
Peacefulexplosion
The moon is not real, the Earth is flat and aliens control our leaders! Can I have my golden tinfoil hat award please?
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+2
(edited) 481 days ago
Kosmic
The Moon is real. Wallace and Gromit proved it so. :)
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(edited) 483 days ago
baleyeman42
We don't go there anymore because it's really, really expensive and there isn't anything sufficiently useful or scientifically interesting enough to justify the cost. To quote a certain talking meerkat: "Simples!"
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+3
(edited) 23 days ago
Dragonwolf
Nothing interesting except that the first nation to have a base on the moon has a military advantage.
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(edited) 488 days ago
AlbertCollins
It's just the cost preventing further exploration otherwise the moon would have joined the EU.
Mind you if it had intelligent life it wouldn't.
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+5
(edited) 493 days ago
william davies
Well, Capricorn One was a good film, but thats all it was. A bit of Hollywood nonsense!
As to the moon landing, the jurys still out!!
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+1
(edited) 495 days ago
KevinSheets
we now know that there are long lave tubes that can be used as moon bases safe from the solar radiation. Why havent we? Money. Plain and simple. The number of trips and amount of equipment would be enormous and the cost astronomical.
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(edited) 496 days ago
johnbidwell
Its a great way to cover up the moon landings telling the people aliens kicked us off of the moon why dont nasa say we did not go to the moon because of the van alan radiation inner and outer belts
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(edited) 497 days ago
YoungMoney
Why haven't we established a permanent base on the moon? Because long stays on the lunar surface lead to receiving a high dosage of radiation, given as the moon has no atmosphere and a reduced magnetic field to that of the earth.
Also what exactly is meant by asking the question "Wouldn’t it be easier to build a permanent structure on the surface of the moon, than to have a floating space station orbiting around Earth?".
No, what would make that easier?, it is many times more difficult to build a structure on the moon, because that would require far more materials to build than a space station does, and also the resupply costs would be exorbitant, not to mention the length of time an astronaut would have to stay at the lunar base would be far longer than they would stay at the space station, leading to all sorts of psychological problems to be dealt with.
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+1
(edited) 499 days ago
TheMinistry0fTruth
Nobody has ever been on the moon and the u.s smashed that rocket into the moon surface in 2009,2012 and 2016,NOT to search for minerals but,so they can say,when the chinese land there and will never find any proof of any u.s landing,that THE ROCKET MUST'VE DESTROYED THE LANDING SPOT AND THE FOOT PRINTS.
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-4
(edited) 489 days ago
jeepster
You are living proof that a body can survive without a brain.
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  • 2 replies
+5
(edited) 482 days ago
PonyPint
jeepster, your reply has just made my day. I burst into LOL upon reading it. I have taken to reading articles on which comments are allowed because healthy debate/comments are no longer acceptable on certain current events. Thx for the laugh "jeepster".
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+1
(edited) 464 days ago
SueKelly
I needed a good laugh thanx
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0
(edited) 501 days ago
robertleo
My comment is not to the article but to the photos. I remember purchasing these photos when NASA made them available for purchase. Viewing earth from the moon was a gift from God. One of the astronaut did make the remark that he felt watch while roaming it's surface.
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(edited) 502 days ago
MarcosMarcotron
Fake news.
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-1
(edited) 502 days ago
Billsbag 81
We are still in early March, it is far too early for April Fool jokes.
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-1
(edited) 502 days ago
JaneMead
There is nothing sacred anymore among humans. America tell the biggest lies and the Moon landing is just another lie. If it were successful, why not again, but now the focus is Mars. Just stop the lies and get over yourselves. I've also read reports on how these space flights affect the astronaught's eyes and many go blind. We cant even live in peace on earth, why pollute another celestial planet. Leave it alone.
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-4
(edited) 496 days ago
RameshKiLLahB
it costs a lot of money for a moon mission, we had to of been there if we going to mars now. mars has a lot more to offer than the moon. we have to explore planets because this 1 is not going to be habitable forever, space is the future
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(edited) 502 days ago
RaymondRapson
This is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Agreed donecek it's like a children's fairy tale. Aliens on the moon wwll that does add up as kids were told about the man in the moon and what next that the moon is made of cheese. According to this conspiracy Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts spoke with aliens but were told to stay away and that aliens do visit the earth in flying saucers ( space crafts) and this was almost 50 years ago. How ridiculous is this? Aliens would have made contact by now. Furthermore, aliens are supposed to be mining the moon and if they were doing this the Earth is bigger and the attraction to do the same on Earth would be irresistible; especially if these aliens were far in advance in technology than the Earth.
Perhaps the real reason for not returning to the moon is that the the moon's gravational pull ( considerably less than Earth though) controls the tides ( Spring tides etc) and they don't want to create an inbalance by doing things up there this might well be the case so they keep away. I'm not absolutely positive but I believe both China and India are planning moon landings in the 2020's.
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(edited) 502 days ago
donecek
The fairy tales used to be made up for childrens in the far history but new evidence has shown that nowadays people believe the fairy tales are a real stories...dumber people than they used to be in the past...
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+2
(edited) 502 days ago
GrahamHall
What a load of rubbish. I can't believe there are so many crackpots about, so desperate to believe in this kind of infantile garbage!
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+4
(edited) 502 days ago
David Lingard
I always thought it was made of green cheese.
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+3
(edited) 502 days ago
JoM
Plenty of pictures on the web. Go view them.
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+3
(edited) 502 days ago
Thistledown
We are heading towards all fools day - Can't wait to see what the DE comes up with then
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+2
(edited) 502 days ago
gnostic
No-one went there in the first place. We were conned. The Van Allen belts have put paid to anyone going beyond the earths atmosphere for many many years yet.
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-4
(edited) 502 days ago
JoM
4feet of lead protection needed.
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+2
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