We are all guilty of these alphabetical shortcuts. It’s nothing new. How about this one -- ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC? It’s real. Does anybody know what it means?
It would be impossible to avoid all abbreviations, mnemonic devices, jargon, texting shortcuts, emoticons, acronyms, initialisms and company logos these days. I did a tiny bit of research and discovered the practice of abbreviating goes back thousands of years. The Romans did it. (For them, JC stood for Julius Caesar.)
These days we all snap those extra letters off the ends of words and substitute initials for often-used phrases. AIDS for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It saves typing 28 more letters and everybody on earth knows what it means.
How about FAQ for Frequently Asked Questions? Saves 21 letters. RBI for runs batted in? Saves nine letters. BYOB? Fifteen letters. DOA? Eleven letters. Pretty efficient, huh?
But these young people, the itchy, round-shouldered, red-eyed texting maniacs, have overdone a good thing. Let’s return to this idea of Jesus returning. The youngsters would get the good news only after a couple of their BFFs texted them.
“OMG,” BFF would write. “JC is back, just like he promised. He’s touring NYC in a GM SUV and he just stopped at KFC.”
What if Bigfoot strolled across the street at the next crosswalk? The texting generation would be so involved with their cell phones, Bigfoot would have plenty of time to skedaddle off into the woods before they glanced up from their itsy bitsy screens. PLUS, these preoccupied kids would stand a good chance of not seeing the crosswalk and getting hit by a car.
Does anybody bother to write the words for FBI or ATM or WHO or NATO? CEO? AA? DVD? UK? UFO? ATV? FLOTUS and POTUS and SCOTUS? NFL and NBA and NHL? No.
We all know what COVID-19 stands for, and what the NAACP is, as well as the UAW and the AP and PETA and ADHD and NIMBYs and FYI. Big corporations get cool nicknames and clever logos too: IBM, CBS, AAA (sometimes called Triple A, but only in spoken conversation, never in print.)
We give CPR. We test DNA. Students take MCATS and ACTs and SATs. Famous people like JFK and FDR and MM have familiar crunched-up abbreviated names. We worry about STVs and HIV and we wonder if we’re eventually all going to RIP.
Early in this technological age, I thought LOL meant Lots of Love. I wondered why so many of my email friends were suddenly getting so affectionate.
Duh. One of my daughters set me straight. It means Laugh Out Loud, she said. There’s even an expanded version, with an adverb for emphasis – ALOL -- Actually Laughing Out Loud; and a more graphic version: FOTFL – Falling On The Floor Laughing.
This blog is two thirds shorter than it would have been if I had spelled out all these words.
By the way, ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC stands for Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command. It’s an actual US Navy term.
It’s also the longest acronym in the English language.