Culture

acronyms: hip or flip?


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How to Sound Really Well-Informed and Creative

Has this ever happened to you? You're listening to a well-dressed, nicely coiffed news reader, someone you have not found to be particularly off-putting, until you hear, "...in science news, the Large Hadron Collider, or, L.H.C. is expected..." It's at this point that you miss the point entirely; either because you're like me, a linguistics nit-picker, or because you are simply unable to focus on the intended message. Why is it necessary to add that acronym?

It has already been rendered unnecessary and, honestly, annoying. I've concluded that it is intended to get my/your attention, and in a positive way, somehow meant to demonstrate comfort with the technical-sounding cant of these ever-prevalent and often catchy stringing together of letters. Ever since the time of that benign President known as Jerry Ford and his "W.I.N." campaign to get inflation under control, the trend has been to form acronyms of preexisting terms.

Join with me, then, in uttering aloud the piratical sound of angst. No wonder Ford lost, having alienated both the Polish-American vote and those who couldn't get out of their heads some stern bureaucrat using a whip on something that he, as a consumer, helped to create.

I'm sure you've noticed that this contagion of smart-sounding, overly clever abbreviations has spread to otherwise worthy non-profit causes (remember A.C.O.R.N., it didn't exactly become the mighty oak), even Occupy Wall Street, or, O.W.S.

See what I mean? It's a virtual pandemic, if not a real one.

No longer is this insidious practice confined to government departments like D.O.J., but, stock ticker symbols have been trending this way for some time now: APPL, and even C.E.O.

As a result, I've had no choice but to contemplate the formation of a counter movement aimed at calling things by their full names, at the risk of alienating the media and the advertising game as well as political campaign strategists. So be it. They're just going to have to be less lazy -- there, I said it -- and revert to using such devices as syllables.

So, without further ado, I give you Americans Concerned Regarding Ominous Neglect of Your Mouthings, or, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.

The great thing about this potential movement (whose time may well have come) is that it may be easily worked into a 15 second spot on T.V. (er, television, ahem) and other media, including print, thereby saving column inches, and money, and, well, sounding serious.

Postscript: On P.B.S. they've just announced results of a study by S.A.P.I.E.N.S., or Society Against the Presumption of Inadequacy of Expression Nicely Short, to the effect that acronyms are a sign of high creativity.

Never mind.

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Updated May 6, 2017 6:00 AM EDT | More details

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