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I am specifically asking about abbreviating words with a dot, like in English: Prof. (Professor) W. Jefferson (West Jefferson), etc.

I am not a native English speaker and I have absolutely no idea what are the English rules. In Bulgarian, however, the rule is that you can abbreviate any word to whatever reasonable amount of letters (assuming it will be clear from the context which is the word) but this must be done before a vowel. Examples: Иван ИвановИв. Иванов; физическо възпитаниефиз. възп.; отговоротг. and so on…

This is usually done to save space and is sometimes especially helpful for use in Software UIs — when there is limited space on buttons, etc.

So: What are the rules in Esperanto? Can one abbreviate any word like that (assuming it would be clear which word that is) and what are the rules?

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  • There is (1) k. One letter, (2) trad. One syllable, indeed before the ellided vowel, (3) d-ro Elliding middle letters. Relative unproblematic.
    – Joop Eggen
    Sep 27, 2016 at 9:46
  • One problem is with ambiguity: trad. in English is short for 'traditional'. It could mean the same in Esperanto: tradicio. I think abbreviations are best avoided, unless it is completely obvious what they stand for. Sep 27, 2016 at 9:53
  • The rules in English differ between British and American (in American, they all get dots; in British, truncations get dots, but not contractions, hence Prof., Dr, Mr, Lat., Gk).
    – TRiG
    Oct 4, 2016 at 23:39

2 Answers 2

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JC Wells provides a list of "Some Esperanto Abbreviations" in his dictionary; they look fairly standard to me from an English perspective, and it's hard to derive any rules/regularities from that list. I'll give some examples to give you an idea: Esperanto abbrev./full word

a.K. - antaŭ Kristo
Ak. - Akademio
anst. - anstataŭ
atm. - antaŭtagmeze
BEA - Brita Esperantista Asocio
b.t. - bonvolu turni
bv. - bonvolu
D-ro - Doktoro
f-ino - fraŭlino
I.L. - Internacia Lingvo
k - kaj
k.a. - kaj alia
k.c. - kaj cetere
N.B. - Notu Bone
n-ro - numero
p. - paĝo, pencoj
Prof. - Profesoro
PTT - Poŝto, telegrafo, telefono
s-ano - samideano
sek. - sekretario
s-ino - sinjorino
s-ro - sinjoro
S-ta - Sankta
trad. - tradukis
UK - Universala Kongreso
v. - vidu

Note the inconsistencies of sometimes using full stops (I.L., k.c.) and sometimes not (BEA, UK, k). PTT looks to me like a verbatim copy from French. And I wonder whether UK will confuse British Esperantists :)

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  • 1
    I think I've seen this or a silmilar list on Wikipedia. It is a good reference but I would still like to see if anyone knows about any general rules. Sep 27, 2016 at 11:17
  • 1
    @LyubomirVasilev (thanks for the Eo chars!) -- I don't think abbreviations are generally based on simple rules apart from Slavic languages; I've never come across that anywhere else in almost 30 years of working in linguistics. Sep 27, 2016 at 11:20
  • I'm not British, and it confuses me!
    – kristan
    Sep 27, 2016 at 18:44
  • People use “ktp” way more than either “k.a.” or “k.c.”. Sep 28, 2016 at 14:30
  • I've also seen ges-roj for gesinjoroj
    – Slepz
    Oct 4, 2016 at 20:28
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This is one of the rare cases that I dare refer you to the Esperanto Wikipedia. The article Mallongigo gives a good summary of the conventions of abbreviating Esperanto words. There are no hard rules, but you get a good idea of what can be done. (I consulted the article on 4 Oct. 2016.)

The best rule in the Wikipedia article is this: "Mallongigoj, se tiuj ne estas inter la plej oftaj kaj konataj, malrapidigas legadon kaj povas eĉ resti tute enigmaj al la leganto. Tial oni evitas, en bonstila prozo, uzi mallongigojn."

Thus, if possible, don't abbreviate. If you have to, spell them out the first time they appear in your text. Even those belonging to the short list of the very common abbreviations or letter words (ktp or k.t.p., UEA) are better avoided. Remember that Esperanto is for people from all languages, some of them non-alphabetic with no abbreviations.

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