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Query Details

Query Subject:   Rules of Etymology of Initialism
Author:   Michael Miller
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  General Linguistics

Query:   Hello,

I am researching the etymology of an initialism for a book that I am
writing. The root/source of the initialism I am studying is a combination
of previously existing initialisms. The earliest examples of the initialism I
am studying are combinations of the previously existing initialisms that
use punctuation within the combination. My specific question is: Are
these earliest forms of the initialism which are the joining of two
previously existing initialisms with an ampersand, a slash, a comma or
an "and" valid examples of the current preferred form of the initialism,
or by the rules of etymology is the source/origin of the currently
preferred form of the initialism found strictly and only in the first use of
the currently preferred form of the initialism? And, is there a reference
book such as a textbook in which I can find the answer to my question?

The specifics:

I am researching the origin of the initialism "BDSM". The earliest
examples of that initialism are either in the first appearance of the
initialism as it appears in usage today, ie., "BDSM" or in usages such
as "B&D and S&M", "BD, SM", "B&D/S&M" or even "SM and BD" and so
on in which, from the context, the writer intended to speak of the two
initialisms (BD and SM) as one concept and as what would now be
written as "BDSM".

(There are other examples in which BD and SM appear together in a
list separated by commas. Those examples, however, from context do
not appear to join BD and SM into BDSM. It is simply the case that
those two initialisms (BD and SM) appear side-by-side in a list. I do not
include those examples in my question. Nor do I perceive those list
examples to be valid examples of the origin of the initialism "BDSM"
currently in use. If I am mistaken about that, please correct me.)

Sources consulted:

The Language of Sadomasochism
Historical Dictionary of American Slang
Various contextual examples of usage

Thank you,
Michael Miller
LL Issue: 22.2567
Date posted: 20-Jun-2011


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