Is "aka" informal ?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Wilhelmina_Harker, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. Wilhelmina_Harker Member

    Paris, France
    French, France
    Hi ! I need to use "aka" in one of my sentences in a written summary I'll have to hand in to my teacher, and I just wondered weither I shouldn't use "alias" instead ? Is there any difference ? I'd rather use "aka" because "alias" is the word we use in French so... But I don't wan't it to be informal..

    Which is better ?

    Thanks a lot !

  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I would never write aka in a sentence unless the context is very casual.
    In a written summary for your teacher I would spell it out - also known as - or even better, I would change the sentence to avoid this cliché.
  3. equivoque Senior Member

    Queensland, Australia
    Australia - English
    It's an acronym and it stands for 'also known as' so to be formal, I'd say it in full.
  4. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    If you are talking about someone who goes by a different name then, you could say that person has an alias: "John Smith often goes by his alias, Edward Johnson." Or you can also construct the sentence as follows: "This is John Smith, aka Edward Johnson." I would just write it out instead of using "aka." I hate lazy people, so I would not suggest using "aka" in a formal writting. I also never put numbers in my formal writtings. I spell them out instead: John has one book and two pencils. There is nothing I hate more than when I see: John has 1 book & 2 pencils. So if I were you, I would just write it something like this. This is John Smith, also known as, Edward Johnson. Hope that helps! :)
  5. Wilhelmina_Harker Member

    Paris, France
    French, France
    Thank you !!!!!

    I really didn't mean to be lazy (though I must admit I am sometimes), I just thought it was colloquial that's why I wanted to use it...
    I tried to change the sentence too, but I doesn't work unless I cut it in two, and the result doesn't "sound" very nice...
    I'll probably spell it out then, or use "alias", as from what driFDer explained I think it'd be correct to use it... I've just found a very simple decision process : I have a one hundred and fifty words limit, so if I'm way over it I'll use "alias" to make it shorter, and if not I'll use "also known as" !

    As for not spelling out numbers in written assigments... I wouldn't even think about it as my teacher considers it a mortal sin and would probably kill on the spot if I did so ;-)

    Thanks a million again !
  6. driFDer Senior Member

    California, USA
    I wasn't suggesting that you were. :)

    hahaha.....Yeah I have done that before ;)

    Mine too!
  7. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    A.k.a. is formal enough for police reports and journalism that covers the "crime beat." It has a specialized meaning appropriate to public statements about criminal aliases.

    Crime drama is popular, so the expression has become widespread in analogous uses, or in references to sobriquets or usernames or nicknames-- we Americans do love our acronyms. In these cases the analogy to crime or espionage "cover names" is mildly facetious, so the tone is a little less formal.

    In asking questions about formality, it should be noted that British and AE cultural attitudes toward informal tone in writing are divergent-- here we sometimes avoid formality in writing that is intended to have a broad-based appeal, or to project a folksy or egalitarian impression on the reader.

    A lot of American business correspondence would seem inappropriately familiar to British and European readers.
  8. Wilhelmina_Harker Member

    Paris, France
    French, France
    Yes I've had that problem before, as I had a teacher who was Welsh, and then another teacher who had been trained in America, and it soon became obvious that they didn't have the same standards.
    I've been to Ireland too, and I'd say it was different, tough quite close to UK English in my opinion.

    As Oscar Wilde said "We now have everything in common with America, except, perhaps, language.".

    As for "aka", "also known as", and "alias", I don't have much choice now : I'm closer to two hundred than to one and a half hundred words... And my teacher is quite strict on that point... I wonder if she actually counts th words in every single paper...That'd take an awful lot of time... So maybe if I write very very small... ;-)
  9. cj427

    cj427 Senior Member

    I agree that this is the best way to phrase this, but I'm pretty sure the second comma is unnecessary:

    "This is John Smith, also known as Edward Johnson."
  10. equivoque Senior Member

    Queensland, Australia
    Australia - English
    As far as word count is concerned, you should have a minimum of 10% leeway either way.

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