Over the past couple of days I've been doing some extended exploration of the P5, hoping to get a reasonably solid orientation to the terrain. As I've done that, I've begun to notice what seems to me a puzzling mixture between abbreviation and and verbosity in element names. I notice in the "About These Guidelines" section a statement that "the names of tags and attributes are chosen for clarity and not for brevity)." I see from looking back at P4 that that statement isn't new, but reading it just now (maybe for the first time) and then looking over the list of elements, I finally articulated to myself a question that has been forming in my subconscious since my first encounters with TEI several years ago (in the form of the big green P3). It is this: How is the preference for human readability over brevity manifest in concrete ways (or how has it been manifest historically)? How is it that we have both tags like tns, usg, and rdgGrp alongside tags like preparedness, surrogates, and varantEncoding?

I ask this because I'm curious and I don't recall ever hearing or seeing a discussion of the issue. I should probably also say that my own bias is toward prolixity and that I've been known to be a booster of the relative transparency of TEI names when I've been working with other tagsets such as METS and EAD. In any case, the vocabulary that a discursive field uses to constitute itself says a lot about that field, of course, and I like to give conscious thought to some of the messages embedded in the discourses I use.