Sunday, October 19, 2014

Consumed with acronyms

  1. TGIF!
  2. B.t.w I need to ask you something important
  3. Please R.S.V.P if you will be attending.
  4. The Q & A session should be roughly about 30 minutes.
  5. I will get back to you w.r.t the discussion we had.
  6. FYI our AFS show that YTD profits fell due to factors TBA.
  7. It is a G55, 4dr, 4WD, 5.5L, AMG SUV with massive horse power.
  8. Can we sit down and see how we can proceed i.t.o of the deal structure.
  9. When you get to the ATM, please check a.s.a.p if the funds have been deposited.
I spoke to a colleague at the office last week and realized how acronyms have become such an integral part of our lives. You can have an on-going conversation with someone using acronyms, yet another person can not join in and follow the conversation, and that is how this post came to be. There are organizational, technical, process flow, conversational and many other types of acronyms. Above is just a short list of some of the daily acronyms we use without even blinking or thinking about them. Mostly clean with a few bad ones floating around here and there when things do not go according to plan, but on this blog I will stick to the ones above. We are a world consumed with shortening everything, more so if the length of some pieces of clothing nowadays is any comparison, but that is besides the point. The world has become so efficient at communicating, with calculated streamlining of the way we communicate to ensure optimal use of letters and words. Why take the whole alphabet when you can simply use three or four letters and say the same thing? Not sure whether it is efficiency of pure laziness though, especially if one has to analyze social media type communication where typing may need to be quickened in some way or else the essence of the discussion can be lost to delayed responses. In social media lingo acronyms therefore tend to be the normal conversational mode as much as some business type informal communication have bits and pieces of acronyms as well. There is now an acronym for virtually everything, from short ones like "how are you doing - HUD" to long ones like "I agree with this comment so much IAWTCSM", which most writers and bloggers will never use talking from experience. Anyway that is a topic for another day.

Unwritten rules
One cannot dispute the fact that some acronyms have become more of normal words themselves so much that the full version of the acronym can easily be forgotten. Most people who frequently get event invites will know what to R.S.V.P is, but can you imagine trying to tell a friend to "R├ępondez s'il vous plait"? That is the un-abbreviated statement but unless you both did French lessons, it will get you two stares, first for failing to say the French properly and second for saying something you should have known they clearly do not understand, even though ironically the person will easily recognize when you mention the acronym as a word. On the flip side, some acronyms are just that, acronyms. It is more intriguing when one uses acronyms in verbal rather than in written communication. Can you imagine saying statement number 2 verbally? Statement number 9 however, can easily be spoken verbally without sounding awkward. So there seems to be some unwritten rules in the use acronyms. How does society set these unwritten rules of what works and what does not, and how do the rules evolve over time? Is there a limit to the use of acronyms within your own daily life or do you use them passively without thinking about them? Maybe you have been so consumed and overzealous with acronyms and have had to explain in full to an acronyms novice. How do you feel about the invasion of acronyms and how much have you embraced them as part of your communication toolkit?