NASA or Nasa

Discussion in 'English Only' started by LQZ, May 7, 2011.

  1. LQZ

    LQZ Senior Member

    Dear all,

    As we know NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I am wondering whether all letters of it should be capitalized or there is the difference in spelling between in AE and BE? Thanks.

  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    We usually capitalize all the letters in acronyms. This is a way of indicating that each letter represents a word. To my knowledge, there is no difference between AE and BE in this, though I hope someone will confirm this or correct me.
    Last edited: May 7, 2011
  3. ghotioutofh2o Senior Member

    American English
    It should be NASA.
  4. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    This is wiki's entry on the case of such letter sequences. I did see Nato somewhere recently, but The Economist doesn't use any lower case, as one example of a BrE guide.
    However, the Guardian and Observer Style Guide has this to say
    That explains my sighting of Nato :(
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Reuters uses NASA.
  6. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    To me, the determining factor is that NASA uses NASA. It's their name. They get to say how it should be written.

    (e. e. cummings, anyone?)
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Well, the Grauniad has printed a few typos in the past, so perhaps they adopted them into their style guide :D To recommend it, their guidance is pretty easy to follow - if you say the letters one by one, it's all caps; if you pronounce the letters as one "word" it's lower case. I did find another style guide that recommended "use the form preferred by the thing being abbreviated" if it differs from the ALL CAPS rule. But they all start waffling a bit with scuba laser radar pin etc. :D

    Guess that's why we have style guides to resolve conflicts that aren't called out by "rules" of grammar/syntax etc.:eek:
  8. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    I've never seen "Nasa" for "National Aeronautics and Space Administration." I don't read English newspapers. I don't think I've ever seen "Erisa" either, although I would say "air-iss-uh," not "ee-are-eye-ess-A." And references to the provision of the Comprehensive Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act that requires continuation of health insurance for discharged employees are spelled "COBRA," not "Cobra," even though everyone says "COE-bruh," not "see-oh-bee-are-A" in phrases like "COBRA coverage" or "COBRA eligibility."

    English newspapers may do whatever they please in England, of course. To the extent that they have any American readers, those readers might not recognize "Nasa," "Erisa," or "Cobra." I suppose that the despicable traitors in the colonies should at least bow down and thank them for not lower-casing our space agency and referring to it as "nasa."
  9. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Well, if I understand correctly, you are saying you don't think that particular style guide would go over well in the US. No argument from me there :D I also doubt that the writers and subscribers to it would say anyone has to bow down to it , unless of course, they want to write for the Guardian or Observer.

    It's not much different from the other AmE BrE differences where one is used to one way and the other sounds, well, foreign, to one's ears :D I am particularly afflicted, being a dual "speaker" and dual citizen :eek:

    (I'm sure you are aware of how @#$%^&-ly a lot of English people react to American spellings - they just think they're well foreign/wrong)
  10. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    One of the resources we list in the sticky at the top of the page is the University of Sussex's webpage on punctuation. It is both a UK source, and a favorite of this forum. This is what they have to say about the capitalization of abbreviations:
    Many large and well-known organizations and companies have very long names which are commonly abbreviated to a set of initials written in capital letters, usually with no full stops. ​
    Among their examples:
    North Atlantic Treaty Organization​
  11. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations, a British publication of which I have a copy on my shelf, lists it thus: "NASA (or Nasa)".

    Over here, I assure you all that it is strictly NASA.
  12. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    That does not seem to be in doubt!
    Wiki has it right, as I quoted previously
    All I pointed out was that I found a divergent style guide.
    In tentative summary: All AmE guides and some BrE guides use "all caps"*, while some BrE guides (well at least a couple of significant ones) either allow or prefer the "alternat(iv)e" approach.

    (*And have to decide when it has become a word like laser, radar etc then NO caps at all :D)
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Just a PS to Julian's excellent summary: The Times style guide also opts for Nasa (and Nato).

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