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Aug 29 2007   3:06PM GMT

Notes on pronunciation in IT: AAA server and SQL

GuyPardon Guy Pardon Profile: GuyPardon

Permanence is both fleeting and intractable on the Internet. In the print world, once the newspaper, magazine or book has been proofed and fact-checked to the point where the law of diminishing returns kicks in, the final product is just that.

Online, “stop the presses” just doesn’t cut it. It’s a nearly universal experience to have clicked “send” before the message or attachment is ready for its audience — or post, in the age of the blogosphere, YouTube and Twitter. And it’s not just novice users that wish they had thought twice before responding or composing their thoughts. Part of the job here at WhatIs.com is always making sure that our copy and links are accurate and working, whether you find our content though this blog, within our definitions or learning content or in any of the new media types that have appeared on the site over the past few years, like podcasts, embedded videos or screencasts.

Earlier today, unfortunately, came one of the moments that editors cringe to admit, where a grammatical rule was broken and a wild card character made its way into one of the few remaining digital media forms that can’t be recalled: the email newsletter. Once it goes out of the mail server, there’s no calling your words back. WhatIs.com sends out a Word of the Day newsletter (Subscribe ere), each weekday, chosen from among the thousands of IT-related terms in the database. Our editors write three questions to go along with the term, usually written to match whatever the theme of the term might be — mobile computing, open source, SAP, CRM or perhaps whatever major tech events has occurred recently.

The three categories of tech trivia include:

Today’s Word of the Day was BotHunter, which meant that our questions centered on security and threat management. The final question should have read as follows:

In IT security, AAA means more than roadside assistance. A AAA server is a server program that handles user requests for access to computer resources and “AAA” services. What do the three A’s stand for in AAA server?
Answer

When I originally wrote the question, I heard “triple A” in my head when I read AAA, a symptom of depending on a certain highway assistance service for decades. In the context of IT security, however, AAA is pronounced by saying each letter separately, or “Ay Ay Ay,” spelling out the acronym. That means that “an” is correct, not “a” as I wrote in the newsletter, just as it is in our definition for AAA server. My apologies to you, dear reader, for the mistake.

If you’re further interested in the correct pronunciation for some of the most commonly mispronounced terms in IT, make sure to consult our guide, How do you pronounce IT? You can see the correct phonics and hear the word spoken aloud by yours truly. Leave us a voice message if you disagree, approve or want to add to the list.

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