Now, nobody knows how many abbreviations there are in the English language, or in any language for that matter half a million in one big set of dictionaries I've got: half a million abbreviations, can you imagine it! They're very important, abbreviations, because they save time and they add familiarity; it's a way of gaining rapport. I don't say "I'm in the British Broadcasting Corporation studio", I say "I'm in the BBC studio" it adds a sort of familiarity, doesn't it.
Now there are written abbreviations and spoken abbreviations, and the written ones are the ones that are interesting today because you can have letters like U.N. for United Nations and you can have words like UNESCO for the other organisation. Now, faqs you've seen them a thousand times I suppose on computer screens are computer text files containing a list of questions and answers, especially basic stuff on news groups where you want to find a quick reply.
It's not a universally spoken word. You don't say I've got some faqs because that could be very misleading, it could sound like facts, f-a-c-t-s. So most people use it as an initialism, they spell it out: F. A. Q. And it's beginning to be used now in a more general way, outside the internet setting. People talk about F.A.Q.s in all kinds of non-computer circumstances. I saw it on a church notice board once. I'll leave you to guess what the questions were.
Transcript (pdf - 43k)
Lesson plan - Teacher's notes, student worksheets with answers (pdf - 63k)
Audio - Professor David Crystal on "FAQs" (mp3 - 869k)
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