Just like acronyms but cooler.

#33 ยท ยท read

I love language.

Have you ever heard of onomatopoeia? It's a term for words that are named after the sound they produce.

In Austrian German, we call a tram โ€žbimโ€œ because it always goes:


Other examples for onomatopoeia are "ping-pong", "flip-flop" and โ€žtuktukโ€œ.

Unlike language, I wouldn't say I love numbers. What I do love though, are numeronyms.

Just like acronyms, numeronyms are abbreviations. But they are a lot cooler because they abbreviate using numbers:

  • 24/7 means open 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
  • Y2K describes the year 2000 problem.
  • 187 is short for "homicide" thanks to the respective Californian Penal Code.
  • 08/15 is common in German to describe something very boring and ordinary and goes back to the first world war, when soldiers had to use a certain machine gun every day to practice their shooting. It was called the MG 08/15.
  • P2P could mean peer-to-peer or pay-to-play.

But there are even cooler ones, popular in software development. Long words are shortened by replacing the number of characters in between the first and last letters:

  • i18n is short for "internationalization".
  • l10n is short for "localization".
  • a11y is short for "accessibility".

But I have learned my absolute favorite numeronym last week in the Philippines.

You how Filipinos like to abbreviate the word "tuktuk" in messages?


That's right. An onomatopoeia that is also a numeronym.

"A drawing of a colorful tuktuk. Behind green palm tree leaves is a blue tuktuk with painted areas shapes in red, orange and yellow. On its roof it says 'I love Siargao' in the same colors."

All linguists out there, I'm ready to receive kudos now. โœŠ

The featured illustration was drawn by lovely Sophia.

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