Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A world of acronyms

I've noticed more and more that people are using acronyms in their regular speech pattern. Not just when they are texting - but when they are speaking aloud. Perhaps this is a consequence of our collective connection with the laptop. However it has evolved, I find it fascinating. I love the written word, love to read and get lost in the language of a new author.  I even enjoy William Safire's column in the NY Times about language and subscribe to "a word a day" (today's word was 'aegis' - which evolved from the Greek word for goat skin). I think that this apparent increase in the use of acronyms is actually improving and stretching the boundaries of the English language. It forces you to do a quick 'translation' while listening - like you're interpreting another language. Anything that makes your brain do a few gymnastics cannot be bad for you.

I've been training with Bill for the last 25 years. He has been using his own acronyms for ages. For instances: PFG - Pretty F'ing good. I don't think he was the originator, but he's been using that one since the Bills were in the playoffs. NFW - No F'ing way - also a favorite. Obviously WTF  - What the F*&^ - is an old standby (and not Obama's new slogan "Win the Future" - sheesh!). Ok, most of those are based on the "F" word - which is actually another accepted one letter acronym. Maybe it's because Bill's brain works faster than his mouth that he has adopted this speech pattern. Or, maybe it's his musical training  - the ledger is full of short forms:  pp (Pianissimo) F (Forte). Or perhaps it's his legal training  -  the law is full of acronyms and even non lawyers know what they stand for: DWI, DA, SVU, FMLA, ERISA, USERRA, HIPAA. I didn't even try  hard to come up with those.

He's also someone who has always referred to Airports by their three letter designation. JFK (New York), ORD (Chicago) CDG (Paris). He probably thinks it makes him sound cosmopolitan. I have a particular affection for the Rush tune "YYZ"  ( the Toronto airport designation). Not only is it a superb song, it's a nod to that great city that  a select few would actually understand. 

Using acronyms makes you sound like you are in the "know". When did Saturday Night Live get changed to SNL? Only the cool people referred to it that way. If you use an acronym, you are in the "in" crowd.

Bill has taken to using acronyms as a way to disguise his language. I won't publish all of his more trenchant ideas so I won't betray him; but I'll do a few:
AYFKM - Are you f'ing kidding me?
PPI - Proton pump inhibitor (aka Prilosec or any of the other gas OTC gas reducers.)
BFD - Big f'ing deal.
KMA - Kiss my A**

I've always enjoyed trying to figure out what he means. It's part of the fun of being married to him. I love a puzzle.

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