About the Colony

About the Colony: OMG! We are awash in alphabet soup

I'm drowning in an alphabet quagmire.

I just discovered that wiggling my leg may be caused by RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). All this time I thought it was because I'm usually running a Benny Goodman tune through my head. The condition has worsened since the most recent USO dance at the National Guard Armory. And just this week I read about the problem of RINOs, which, I learned, stands for Republicans In Name Only.

Growing up I encountered the normal abbreviations that included the FBI, the IRS and the CHP. In high school, I was involved in FFA, and my dad worked for PPA (Poultry Producers Association). I'd never heard of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) although I probably could have been the poster child for it.

I should have gotten accustomed to the practice after my stint in the Navy, where everything's abbreviated. I served with ACRON 1 (Assault Boat Squadron One). There was DEVRON and CINCPAC and SUBPACK and BUPERS, ad infinitum and, well, anyone who has served in the military knows about that already. "Snafu" is a classic acronym that probably owes its beginnings to the military.

"Radar" is an acronym in such familiar use we forget what it actually stands for, this writer included.

CBS aired a story last week about a firm that will come in and help you find a comfortable acronym or phrase we can all wrap our arms around and subsequently ask our doctors for the FDA-approved drug to treat it.

Thanks to this trend you can mention irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at a cocktail party. The same system gives us catchy names such as Advair instead of having to pronounce what is a mixture of fluticasone propionate and salmeterol. The drug, by the way, treats people suffering from COPD, which has something to do with chronic bronchitis.

I suppose acronyms are a sort of verbal shorthand that both speed and ease our ability to communicate with one another.

I know as a journalist it was much easier to simply type CDF rather than write out California Division of Forestry.

As a journalist I remember being taught not to use an abbreviation in a headline unless it was perfectly clear what it stood for, such as IRS or CHP. That only makes sense.

I'm seeing some abbreviations slip into headlines these days that I don't recognize. Of course, television, oops, TV (keeping with today's theme) has made a lot more of them highly recognizable such as "ER," "CSI" and "NCIS." I'm just assuming that the show "O.C." is about Orange County, but I don't know.

Life was supposed to become less of a mystery as I aged. Now, with having to remember ZIP codes, my Social Security number, the kids' phone numbers and my driver's license number, I'm still struggling to keep it all straight.

Based on the word count on my computer screen, it's time to end this whole silly business PDQ.

  Comments