Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about acronyms. Not sure why.
When I worked on Wall Street, I avoided them. The investment banks tried to simplify complex financial instruments with familiar sounding names that sometimes went too far: LYONs and TIGRs and BIMBOs, oh my. In my experience, any security that came with an acronym was toxic. But I digress.
I think it was my new novel, The Trust, which triggered my recent acronym kick. I asked an author friend, “May I send you an ARC?”
He said, “Sure, if you tell me what the hell an ARC is.”
“Advance reading copy. You know a galley.”
To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw: We were two authors, divided by a common acronym.
Shortly afterwards, I was talking with a friend from high school about a recent alumni dinner we both attended. I say “alumni,” but the event took place at the school. And there were an equal number of graduates and students during the evening in question.
Over dinner, the students at our table all discussed ED. Their conversations were heavy, foreboding, and mildly unsettling for the grads. They were talking about college admissions—Early Decision to be precise. We the distinguished alumni, guilty of watching too many pharmaceutical commercials, thought the topic was Erectile Dysfunction at first.
Again, and with apologies to GBS: We were two generations divided by a common acronym.
And just yesterday morning, my wife described an e-mail exchange between a mother and a daughter.
Daughter: “I got the job!”
Daughter: “Mom, do you know what WTF means?”
Mother: “Well, That’s Fantastic!!!”
Good thing they weren’t texting. That exchange could have gone FUBAR, big time. Texting is the major league of acronyms and miscellaneous abbreviations, right?
Are acronyms destroying the English language or making it more fun? Why don’t you grab a coffee from *$, that’s Starbucks and I know *$ is not an acronym, and tell me what you think.
BTW, TWHAB = This Won’t Hurt A Bit.