Sunday, 12 April 2009


Acronyms are a way of referring to an organisation or item without repeating the whole title and they have a useful purpose when universally understood. I suppose that every adult in the English-speaking world knows that NATO is the short form of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and UFO means Unidentified Flying Object. BBC can trip up some people as can NASA but we have a general idea what they mean.

Sometimes, though, acronyms are a means of excluding people from conversation or perhaps of discovering those who may share an interest. SLRs are significant for photographers and LEDs are important to those of an electronic bent, while SENCO is used in educational circles. Just occasionally acronyms are used to baffle, to prove superiority of knowledge or experience, or perhaps are an indication of the user's inability to appreciate the exclusivity of the initials he is using.

The CEO of HFC had arranged to meet the MD in the bar of a pub in WGC. They needed to reach agreement ASAP on the MO they were planning for the introduction of PAYE for the new company. The PM had told the MPs that HMG had a vested interest in the venture and assured them that HRH was also paying close attention.

I recently attempted to read a true story of derring-do which was littered with acronyms. The book had a glossary of terms but after a few pages I was thoroughly tired of referring to it and had lost all patience with the narrative. What had started as an interesting if not very well-written tale had quickly become a source of irritation and I could no longer force myself to persevere with it.

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