Friday, September 07, 2007


Where Has The English Language Gone? I think the English language is being acronymed out of comprehension. Acronyms are running rampant on the lips of young and old alike during the beginning of the third millennium. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of young who can tell the meanings of acronyms that became prevalent when the older populace was younger.

Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial letter of words or from word parts. The term initialism was first used in printed material in 1899 and originally described as abbreviations formed from initials, without reference to pronunciation. The word acronym was first printed in 1943. Alphabetism is a term for abbreviations pronounced as the names of letters. But, has the practice of shortening words and terms become out of control?

Businesses and the military are full of initialism. What is this sentence really saying?
“Neither the FBI nor CIA had any intel about the ICBM confrontation reported by ABC, CBS, and NBC.”

Without the shortened options, we’d write:

“Neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor Central Intelligence Agency had any intelligence about the intercontinental ballistic missile confrontation reported by American Broadcasting Channel, Columbia Broadcasting System and National Broadcasting Company.”

We don’t even know the origins or some of the acronyms that make words. Who knew the word golf is derived from "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden"? And the term laser comes from the research results of "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation".

There are so many shortened words and phrases that it’s difficult to keep up. In addition to learning the meanings of some acronyms, we now must know the subject or field of reference to apply that definition. For example, IBM might be the acronym for the electronics company, International Business Machines, or reference an intercontinental ballistics missile (which is also abbreviated ICBM).

And we not only have America On Line, AOL, but that acronym is further reduced from AOL Instant Message to AIM. Misunderstanding is so common that the acronym or initials need to be redefined by adding one of the words back in, like RAM (random access memory) memory.

Many young adults can’t tell you what MPG, MSRP, and TTL mean when purchasing a vehicle. With new Internet terminology, most are totally clueless. HTML (hyper text mark up), URL (uniform resource locator), CSS (cascading style sheet), and W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) are equivalent to foreign words.

Text messaging is totally obliterating the spelling, punctuation, and grammar talents required for a scholastic background. Even in the good old USA (United States of America)!

Heaven help us with homophones!