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The medical literature has been struggling to control the proliferation of acronyms as their use has evolved from aiding communication to hindering it.
This has become such a problem that it is even evaluated at the level of medical academies such as the American Academy of Dermatology.
Larry Trask, American author of The Penguin Guide to Punctuation, states categorically that, in British English, "this tiresome and unnecessary practice is now obsolete." Nevertheless, some influential style guides, many of them American, still require periods in certain instances.
For example, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage recommends following each segment with a period when the letters are pronounced individually, as in "K. B.", but not when pronounced as a word, as in "NATO".
Other examples of mnemonic acronyms are "CAN SLIM", and "PAVPANIC" as well as "PEMDAS".
It is not uncommon for acronyms to be cited in a kind of false etymology, called a folk etymology, for a word.
Linguist David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends claims that "forming words from acronyms is a distinctly twentieth- (and now twenty-first-) century phenomenon. In formal writing for a broad audience, the expansion is typically given at the first occurrence of the acronym within a given text, for the benefit of those readers who do not know what it stands for.
There is only one known pre-twentieth-century [English] word with an acronymic origin and it was in vogue for only a short time in 1886. The capitalization of the original term is independent of it being acronymized, being lowercase for a common noun such as frequently asked questions (FAQ) but uppercase for a proper noun such as the United Nations (UN) (as explained at Case Casing of expansions).
Like retronymy, it became much more common in the 20th century than it had formerly been. The armed forces and government agencies frequently employ acronyms; some well-known examples from the United States are among the "alphabet agencies" (also jokingly referred to as "alphabet soup") created by Franklin D.Acronyms flourished especially from the 20th century onwards; the distinction between abbreviation and acronym has been steadily eroded and acronym is commonly used for several types of abbreviation.