Re: [MSEC] Review comments, was RE: GDOI support for IEC 62351

Sandra Murphy <> Wed, 30 April 2014 16:29 UTC

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Subject: Re: [MSEC] Review comments, was RE: GDOI support for IEC 62351
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On Apr 30, 2014, at 9:50 AM, Brian Weis <> wrote:

> Hi Vincent,
> Many thanks for your review. I've addressed them, with some notes inline.
> On Mar 3, 2014, at 10:27 AM, Vincent Roca <> wrote:
>> ** typo:
>> represents a SPI => represents an SPI
>>                                ^^
>> (there are many occurrences of "a SPI", is it volontary?)
> I double checked with some sources, and the general rule (at least for American English) is "a" before a consonant, and "an" before a vowel. There are a few special rules but "a before s" does not seem to be one of them.

This is probably an RFC Editor question, but the many references online say the difference is whether the following word starts with a vowel *sound*, not whether it is spelled with an initial vowel or consonant.
The choice of article is actually based upon the phonetic (sound) quality of the first letter in a word, not on the orthographic (written) representation of the letter. If the first letter makes a vowel-type sound, you use "an"; if the first letter would make a consonant-type sound, you use "a."
The rule is  that you use a before words that start with a consonant sound and an before words that start with a vowel sound (1)<<ref to Faigley, L. The Little Penguin Handbook. New York: Pearson Education. 2007, p. 255.>>

There are also references to what to do before acronym - the difference is whether people ordinarily say the acronym by spelling out the acronym (FTP == "ef" "tea" "pea") or trying to pronounce it as a word (NAT == "nat").

So it depends on whether the community says "spy" when encountering SPI, or "es" "pea" "eye".

And this nifty video, explaining the sound vs spelling distinction and also the Old English origins of the a/an distinction.