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When using an abbreviation such as OFr (Old French) or ME (Middle English) in academic writing, what is the best way to stylise it? Masses of punctuation looks messy, but I am concerned my assignment will be more difficult to read without it.

For example:

... e.g.: “domynacyon”, from the OFr dominacion; first appearing in the late 14th C.
is “decreas [-eth]” as a verb, from the OFr descroistre; ...


... e.g.: “domynacyon”, from the O.Fr. dominacion; first appearing in the late 14th C.
is “decreas [-eth]” as a verb, from the O.Fr. descroistre; ...

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migrated from english.stackexchange.com Mar 16 '13 at 21:59

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

Since this is a style question, I think it is more appropriate on Writers.SE. – Kit Z. Fox Mar 16 '13 at 21:59
Welcome to Writers! You should definitely consult whatever style guide you're using. That'd probably be MLA or APA, although there are others. – Neil Fein Mar 16 '13 at 22:53
  1. Old English is OE or OEng.
  2. Middle English is ME or MidE or MidEng.
  3. Early Modern English is EModE or EModEng.
  4. Modern English is ModE or ModEng.

There's significant variation because one doesn't always need to make every possible distinction. So use whatever combination of these you need. My general principle is to use the shortest simplest abbreviations possible -- otherwise, why abbreviate?

Some possibilities, of many:

  • OE, ME, ModE (if it's mostly about Middle English with a few Modern references)
  • OE, MidE, ME (if it's mostly about Modern English with a few MidEng references)
  • OEngl, MidEngl, ModEngl (if you're being paid by the letter)

As for stylization, this is a matter for the editor to decide.
Consult the stylesheet for the journal you're submitting to.

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