Beyond Mere Words

Amazon, which has an answer to just about any need, features a mug that got me thinking… It raises the perplexing question – Why is ‘abbreviation such a long word?’

It got me ruminating again about acronyms and abbreviations, those clever insider codes that enhance the communication mores and egos of the cognoscenti.

As an English major who until recently thought that LOL meant Little Old Lady I am conditioned to take a radical (that’s “of or going to the root” in a traditional word dictionary) to the challenge of adapting to the social media parlance (SMP).  The social media luddites (SMLs)  tend to disparage SMP, in part because they have no facility in decoding.

Ron Callari’s attitude as expressed in InventorSpot set a tone that lured me to further Super Bowl Sunday (SBS) Reflections on acronyms, abbreviations and initials.  Contemplation has led to the harsh truth that tweets are nothing more than the 21st Century manifestation of ancient verbal rites.  From time immemorial every trade and profession has closely guarded its secret acronymic code.  What’s new is that today’s communications tools and vocabulary are within reach of the unwashed – many of whom are kids who don’t have a high school diploma, much less a Professional Degree.

To wit:

ü     Doctors (MDs) and other health care providers (eg RN’s) and health care agencies (eg FDA, NLM, MDH)   are widely renowned for their clear choice of words (COW).  It’s the patients who need access to their insider language.  The PDR is a start and the MedLexicon is one of several deciphering tools of the medical profession.

ü     Unlike most cultures, the sports world is recognized as a self-contained universe.  As a separate world it has its own colorful language, including an inner sanctum of acronyms known but to the fans and sportscasters, a vocabulary at times unfamiliar to those in the temperature controlled suites where the elite meet.  Though there is no common abbreviation language, the NFL all-caps lexicon suggests the style.

ü     Wall Street Jargon (WSJ), spoken most often by MBA’s and CEO’s, is perhaps intentionally beyond reach of the masses.  Still, even the suits depend on tools. Lacking an MBA I did check it out – it was a sort of Alice in Wonderland (AIW) hole out of which I crawled ASAP.

ü     Widely known for articulate expression of cogent thinking, the federal government stands out for its capacity to translate government functions to a pure form of acronymic communication.  There’s a guide, of course.  I’m sure there’s an abbreviation for that title but I didn’t bother looking.

ü     Closely related to and ostensibly a function of the federal government is the military industrial complex.  Though the military is not entirely forthcoming about their culture or their short-cut language, there are some decoding tips.

ü     Librarians (usually MSLS’s from ALA accredited institutions) are predictably fluent in capital letter lingo.  Because librarians need to be multi-acronym-fluent their tools are legion.  I somewhat favored the ODLIS, in part because it’s current, but also because it’s in large print with good links.

ü     Educators, particularly those in administrative positions (PhD’s and EdD’s), are driven to creativity in all endeavors, including the Creation and Advancement of Abbreviations. (CAA)  Though vehemently opposed to students’ use of cheat sheets principals and superintendents  depend at times to their professional crib sheet.

ü     If you’re thinking lawyers with JD’s don’t use abbreviations to clarify the intricacies of their chosen trade, check their secret word weapon.

ü     Since I’m writing this on the Sabbath, it seemed proper to check the ways in which world religions have adopted the language of abbreviation.  TMI (Too Much Information).  From the banquet of options I chose one small morsel, mostly because it offered insight into the distracting world of Christian bumper stickers

ü     You know the champions!  There can be no question that the cosmos will never know a culture that can hold a candle to technology. In time the culture of technology will devolve into sub-cultures, thus growing organically in application, integration and acronymization of unique languages that merge the abbreviated tongues of multiple cultures. Neophytes may want to check out this primer with the understanding that the language of technology morphs by the nano-second.  Around the globe there are squadrons of earnest people with freshly minted EEDs and PhDs in IT/CS working on just that linguistic challenge.

If perchance you just want to know what your doctor, your attorney, your broker, or your kid is trying to say, check something basic like the AcronymFinder, home of some 1,000,000+ acronym definitions. It’s one of many options.  Meanwhile, Amazon must have warehouses full of traditional ink on paper versions from days gone by – with a mug thrown in as a bonus.

Needless to say, there is an Acronym Finder Blog that will keep you UTD as the world of acronyns, abbreviations and initials.  Follow along as acronyms, abbreviations and initials (AAIs)  expand and replace traditional nouns, verbs and adjectives as the primary mode of communication of ideas and information among members of the human race (HR).

The world awaits your unique contribution to the primordial buzzword soup.  Your original acronym/abbreviation with precise definition is welcome here.


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