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This is potentially a very stupid question: I'm guessing ДНК is pronounced дээнка́. As such, is it treated grammatically as a feminine noun, or is it invariable? In other words, do you say в его дээнке́ , инопланетяне взяли мою дээнку́ , etc?

I ask this because I've only ever seen it in writing, I've never heard anyone actually say it :)

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    ДНК is pronounced дээнка́ Because it's just the names of the corresponding letters, like Dee-En-Ey. It is never written like this. On the other hand, "normal" words like "загс" differ in pronounce and do decline.
    – Matt
    Jan 27 '16 at 7:54
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This very initialism is invariable.

However, there are some acronyms like ЗАГС, БОМЖ, ТЭН etc. which do decline as any other noun would, and in fact many Russian speakers are unaware those are initialisms.

This is more common for initialisms which would have been masculine if they were nouns, however, ЧК used to decline as well in early XX century (забрали в чеку, арестован чекой etc.), and the acronym з/к gave birth to the (masculine) word зек "inmate".

There is even a vernacular word касемсот "a heavy tractor", which originates from К-700, a heavy tractor manufactured in Leningrad.

It declines and is in every other way treated as a noun, you can find ads saying продам касемсот модели К-701.

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  • Very interesting. That was going to be my next question. Thank you for reading my mind :)
    – CocoPop
    Jan 27 '16 at 3:32
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    касемсот is very, very wrong grammar. There are people using wrong grammar, so you can actually find examples of use, but it is still wrong. As this answer already points, there are some abbreviations that already turned to be like words. БОМЖ (a bum, без определённого места жительства), ВУЗ (высшее учебное заведение, like university) can be used like a word (бомж, бомжа, бомжей, вуз, вуза, вузов). ДНК however contains no vowels, so no chances to turn into a word "днк". Jan 28 '16 at 22:35
  • @yaapelsinko: what's wrong with it? And дээнка certainly has vowels in it, no less than three.
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 28 '16 at 23:18
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    The problem is there is no such word as "дээнка". As well as there is no word "efuaiei" for FYI and so on. An acronym must already be word-like to have a chance to became one, basically. An no common rule for such words to be created. ЧК gave life for "чекист", but ДК (дом культуры) didn't generated any "декист". Jan 29 '16 at 0:13
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    @yaapelsinko: of course it did: декашник and декашный.
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 29 '16 at 6:23
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As with most initialisms, it is invariable.

В его дээнка
Инопланетане взяли мою дээнка

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    It's not an acronym, it's an initialism. The difference is that an acronym is pronounced as a word (e.g., ЗАГС or NASA), while in initialisms the letters which constitute them are pronounced separately (e.g., ДНК or FBR). Acronyms usually are declined in Russian.
    – Litho
    Jan 27 '16 at 8:58
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    @Litho: ЮАР and НАСА do not decline, МЧС does (sometimes). It's not that much about being an acronym or not, it's about... well I don't really know what's it about, but some abbreviations just do that and the other just don't. Masculine do more often than the feminine and neuter, it seems.
    – Quassnoi
    Jan 27 '16 at 16:07
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I listened lectures by antropologist Станислав Дробышевский - he makes many witty remarks in his speech. He (and some other scientists) change ДНК in his speech (maybe because it sounds fun, or, maybe, because it is some kind of jargon): "Просеквенировали дээнку неандертальцев", "нашли в дээнке современных людей следы дээнки кроманьонцев", etc. (example: Расшифровка генома древнего человека) So, in fact, you can hear someone declining ДНК as if it is feminine noun.

But, anyway, this was the only time I have heard such usage. I have never heard such usage on TV, in popular science movies or in speech of any people I met in person.

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    That's interesting to note, because as an innocent learner, my first instinct was to decline it as a feminine noun. That either means that my head is learning to process Russian automatically, OR that I'm a neanderthal :)
    – CocoPop
    Jan 28 '16 at 16:59

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