Thursday, March 31, 2011

Three little words

Abbreviations have become one of the special banes of my life.  The Chinese - especially Chinese "academics" - seem to have a particular predilection for them.  And they rarely observe the sensible convention of only using one after using the full name/phrase for which it stands on its first appearance in their text.  And they are, of course, hopelessly dyslexic - or, rather, just astoundingly inattentive and uncaring - in their use of them: you see UNSECO, and you assume they probably mean UNESCO.... but sometimes you have to check, just to be sure (because sometimes they mean UNSCO!).  I spend far more time on Acronymfinder than is good for my mental health.

In the IT industry - in which I have often worked here, because it is one of the few sectors to apply a decent amount of money to staff training - the use of acronyms has got completely out of hand... moving from tic through fetish to incessant compulsion.  Three-word phrases are especially beloved by the computer nerds.  When I worked as in-house training co-ordinator for one big American software developer, I discovered they had evolved so many of the damn things that they actually needed a company directory to keep track of them all - a very substantial volume.

It was called 'The List of TLAs'.  That's Three-Letter Acronyms.  True story.

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