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Matters of Pronunciation

Posted by Sumiki , in BIONICLE/LEGO, BZPower, MOCing, Rants, Not Essays! Nov 19 2012 · 267 views

Earlier today, I went into General Discussion and found that the TTV Podcast topic had been revived. I haven't been a part of that podcast since earlier this year, just a few short weeks after my initial promotion to Forum Mentor.

Some of my best memories of my time on TTV involved the MOCist Interviews that I did, at first along with the deep-voiced Tom (I'm unsure of his current BZP username), then with Brickeens alongside us. Eventually Tom quit, which left Brickeens and I to pester other MOCists with our silly questions.

One of the questions was about how people pronounce the term "MOC." I always have pronounced it as "em-oh-cee" - because if you "mock" someone, it sounds like you're making fun of them. If a profile tribute is the greatest possible expression of love, then an MOC tribute must be the greatest possible expression of admiration.

Well, as it turned out, nearly all of the MOCists we interviewed pronounced it as "mock," and my pronunciation of it became a running joke on the interviews. The lack of clear, obvious pronunciation is awkward for a number of small reasons. For example, my pronunciation leads me to write "an MOC," while most write "a MOC."

At first, this made me want to run a MOC, but I didn't.

(Amok, a MOC? See what I did there?)

(Okay, that was terrible I'm so sorry please put the gun down I swear I won't make any more horrible puns really)

I've actually acclimated to others pronouncing it differently, and to be fair, "mock" is much more fluid in a sentence. I still think it sounds stupid, but to each their own. I've caught myself using that pronunciation during both of the past two BrickFairs, mainly because everyone else uses it.

In the end, there's really no problem with either pronunciation. The fact that it's an acronym doesn't give us a clue as to its correct pronunciation.

No, the real problem lies in the fact that it's an acronym. (Acronyms Anonymous: where the first step to recovery is recognizing that you're an acronym.)

Acronyms are quite possibly the strangest quirk of language, and English, considered to be one of the quirkiest of all human languages, has its fair share of acronyms. To start things off, let's look at some pronunciations:

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization): spoken as word
HTML (HyperText Markup Language): spelled out
CD-ROM (Compact Disc, Read-Only Memory): half-spelled, half-spoken
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association): "AA" turns into "double-A" when said

Or take the recursive GNU, which stands for "GNU's Not Unix" - which, combined with the double-layered GIMP ("GNU Image Manipulation Program"), leaves a puddle where your brain used to be.

Right away, we can be thankful for two things: one, that "MOC" isn't a recursive acronym, and two ... well, there's no set pronunciation. So both ways are right.

But while this is a resolution to the initial question, let's go a bit deeper - because, as the MythBusters say, if it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.

"MOC" has entered into the LEGO community's vernacular to a point where it gets used in speech and in text in bizarre situations, places where, if you replaced "MOC" with its constituent words, "My Own Creation," you end up with some hilariously mangled sentences. Take, for example, this excerpt of Fsnorglepuff's post in Ballom's topic Fishy:




Great design, but the eye holes in the head plate distract from the actual eyes of the MOC. Try to fit in orange pieces there.



Replacing "MOC" with "My Own Creation" leaves you with:




Great design, but the eye holes in the head plate distract from the actual eyes of the my own creation. Try to fit in orange pieces there.




Here's another excerpt, but this time of Dralcax's post in DARKSIDERZ's topic The Rahkshi Re-invented:



The torso is definitely the best part of the MOC. I love what you did with the spines and the head.


The torso is definitely the best part of the my own creation. I love what you did with the spines and the head.




Replacing it with "my own creation" leaves posts looking like they've either been caught by a new word filter or run through the bad translator a couple of times.

This isn't a phenomenon of this single term, by any means. A lot of acronyms lose their original meaning and become twisted over time to fit into sentences. Some even go so far as to lose their capitalization, and thus sever all ties with their acronymic origins. Radar, laser, and scuba are but three acronyms that are now words. If we all replaced the acronyms we use every day with their longer counterparts, we'd sound hilarious and at least a little bit incompetent.

Back to the MOC discussion for a bit before I wrap things up. Recently, I've been trying to avoid the term - not because I'm tired of pronouncing it differently, but rather because of what it stands for. "My own creation" reminds me of the "cool creations" of the LEGO magazine, which were never, ever cool. (Six-year-olds, generally speaking, don't have a concept of "color scheme.") It's also pretty redundant, and becomes a hassle if you're referring to something someone else built. In some situations, it's sort of like saying "PIN number" (Personal Identification Number number).

That's why I've taken to calling them "creations." It's simple, it's direct, and there are no concerns anent its pronunciation.

Now that's something to run a MOC about.

NEXT TIME: SUMIKI'S DAD DISCUSSES THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND MORAL ASPECTS OF MUTATED PLEXIGLAS.


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Don't forget that "my MOC" would be "my my own creation"
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Right away, we can be thankful for two things: one, that "MOC" isn't a recursive acronym, and two ... well, there's no set pronunciation. So both ways are right.

Both ways actually aren't right, which is why your version ("Em Oh Cee") is the minority one. MOC is an acronym, not an initialism.

Acronyms get pronounced (NASA, MOC, NATO, etc), however, initialisms don't (HTML, BBC, USA, etc).

The difference between the two is slight, but an acronyms is when you abbreviate a word or phrase in a way that creates a pronounceable word, while initialisms do not create a pronounceable word.

The more you know.
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An acronym is broadly defined as an abbreviation that is formed from the initial letters of other words. I can't find any definition that links pronunciation with acronym, while initialisms hinge on such a definition. Maybe I'm not getting the right definitions, or maybe it's too late for me to go hunting around sanely because it's past midnight. :P

Either way, I don't think it really changes the point of the entry. Now it's going about two different pronunciations, but rather the question of "is 'MOC' an acronym or initialism?" I think the initialism version sounds better, but that's the minority view and I accept that.
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There's no debate over whether it's an acronym or an initialism, as it creates a pronounceable word, it's an acronym. A look at the difference between acronyms and initialisms on any grammar site should show you the difference. Both are a type of abbreviation, and you can argue that initialisms are a type of acronyms as some (in the grammatical minority) do, but that's the difference.
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Sorry, I'm gonna have to support Sumiki's definition of acronym here. According to a couple of different definition sources, the pronounceability of a word is not a defining characteristic of an acronym. I see it as kind of a broad term with subcategories to make things more specific, like initialisms (which, coincidentally, show up unrecognized in my spellcheck). Thus, all initialisms are acronyms, but not all acronyms are initialisms. If you want to label an acronym as pronounceable, perhaps you really need another term.

Although saying "No this way is right and that's the way it is" does seem counter productive to the message of this blog entry, IMO. It's about compromise and showing that both ways can be used well within the community, and not as much about "I'm right, you're wrong."

Also, Em-Oh-Cee!

:music:
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The English language isn't a democracy.
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Seriously, this is a simple Google search. From the wikipedia article on acronyms:

The distinction, when made, hinges on whether the abbreviation is pronounced as a word, or as a string of letters


The distinction is not always made, but the defining characteristic of an acronym is that it is an abbreviation formed form the first letter (or letters) of a phrase, and makes a word. An initialism is an abbreviation made the exact same way that is pronounced by saying each letter (such as FBI). This is taught in every grammar book I ever had to read for every writing or editing class I ever took, from elementary school through college. Both are a type of abbreviation, but they are not the same.

If you want to label an acronym as pronounceable, perhaps you really need another term.

That is the term. And abbreviations that don't have pronunciations as words have a term too. Just because you were unaware of it does not mean it is not the proper and correct terminology. Grammar persists whether it is recognized by all or not. Any copy-editor worth anything will be able to tell you this distinction, and the wikipedia article makes it in the first body paragraph. It also goes on to note that the word "acronym" has been used to mean "an abbreviation made from the first letter(s) of a phrase that makes a word."

Although saying "No this way is right and that's the way it is" does seem counter productive to the message of this blog entry, IMO. It's about compromise and showing that both ways can be used well within the community, and not as much about "I'm right, you're wrong."

Well, the blog entry is wrong on that front. There is a reason the community uses the acronymic pronunciation and not what it would be were it an initialism 99% of the time.

(The one frustrating thing about Wikipedia, of course, is that it makes things that are minor controversies with a very small dissenting world seem larger. The disagreement on acronyms vs initialisms in the grammar world is very small, and those who think the term initialism is unnecessary are very few, but what can you do).

(Also, you may also hear initialisms referred to as "alphabetisms".)
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Seriously, Wikipedia is the source you're gonna cite? If you're gonna make some elite literature know-it-all claim, at least cite a source that isn't built on user generated content. (Sure, it's better than it used to be, but still, all my courses frowned on citing from wikipedia.)

But whatever, I guess they do have terms for this kind of stuff. But where was it ever defined that MOC was strictly an acronym and not an initialism? (Sorry, Wikipedia doesn't classify this. :P )

:music:
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I've noticed the same problem when you spell it out, but I think it's become a noun in it's own right.
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I used to use em-oh-cee exclusively, but there are so many of extensions of the term that sound awkward that way, like MOCist (em-oh-ceeist).
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Does it even matter whether "MOC" is an acronym or initialism? Now, that might change some of the wording that I used in the entry, but it doesn't change the gist of it. The pronunciation doesn't hurt anyone else, nor is one more right than the other.
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Replacing it with "my own creation" leaves posts looking like they've either been caught by a new word filter or run through the bad translator a couple of times.

Oh man, I know how to totally fix the word filter now.
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But whatever, I guess they do have terms for this kind of stuff. But where was it ever defined that MOC was strictly an acronym and not an initialism? (Sorry, Wikipedia doesn't classify this. :P )

Yes, by spelling out an actual pronounceable word, it becomes an acronym. Initialisms are only when the abbreviation created cannot be pronounced (or if it's a proper noun, like the name of a company or organization, who has a preference for how to pronounce it, like the World Health Organization, which prefers to be pronounced as an initialism, not the word "who").

Also, I used Wikipedia because we can actually mention it, whereas other grammar sites often have comment systems.
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I only pronounce it mock at Brickfair because everyone else does :< I heard it and it took a second for me to recognize it as the second pronunciation :P

I think it depends on the vowels in it. We wouldn't pronounce DNA "duh-nah" , but we would pronounce NATO like an actual word. Guess it's just how you see it.
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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo


"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva


BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex


What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus


I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok


Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker


He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist


I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens


I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig


I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk


I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome


Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex


Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz


10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome

    

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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

    

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/13 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi
8/27/13 - 8/5/14 - None
8/12/14 - Another Chro Original
8/19/14 - Kanohi Zatth
8/26/14 - Miniland Hatpile
9/2/14 - S. S. Starfish
9/9/14 - Special - Claude Hairgel
9/16/14 - Green Flame

    

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

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Waffles

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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle

so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra




You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.

It's a long story.

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