The team’s PO, PO P. O’Pio, was really PO’d when he found the PO at the PO.
I work in a perfect storm of acronym-happy industries: IT, health care, and insurance. They all just love their acronyms and initialisms, and while I’ve never seen a sentence as bad as my admittedly over-the-top example above, I’ve seen some that are close.
Yesterday, a chat window popped up with the question:
Did you RP to the OPL INC with the PBI?
The only thing that would have made it worse (to my language-loving senses) is if it had also incorporated text-speak:
did u rp 2 th opl inc w/th pbi?
IT (Information Technology) loves acronyms so much, it changed its name to one. Insurance, with its underwriters and metrics, is rife with them. And health care…well…anyone who’s watched any modern “doctor” show will know that you can’t utter a single sentence in health care without there being some sort of initialism involved.
Why do we love these short-forms so much? My feeling is that we think they’re cool. They makes us part of a club, an “in” crowd. They’re both shared and exclusory, strengthening our inner bonds and communal worth while at the same time setting us apart from (and thus above) the rest.
While I understand not wanting to type out “Primary Diagnosis” or “Portland International Airport,” problems arise as their initial forms are both PDX (technically, they are PDx and PDX, respectively, but in this IM/Chat-speak world where capitalization is as fluid as punctuation, confusion reigns.)
What I do not understand is when we speak them aloud when the spoken initialism is longer than the “long” form. It irks me no end when Castle‘s ME says that the COD is a GSW to the head. Pronounced “Gee Ess Double-You,” it’s two syllables longer than “Gun Shot Wound.” And I think the human race has lost cumulative centuries of productive time listening to someone give a web-address that begins “double-you double-you double-you,” when “world wide web” is literally three times faster to say.
Nope. We love our alphabet soup. With ancient examples like Rome’s SPQR (i.e., Senatus Populusque Romanus, or “The Senate and People of Rome”) and ichthys (Greek, meaning “fish” and an acronym for Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr, or “Jesus Christ, God’s son, Savior”), it’s obvious that we’ve been at this for a long time.
As our communication becomes more densely packed, and as we strip out vowels and replace words like “you” with the letter “u”, I see our written language becoming more like Hebrew which, for the most part, is written without vowels in everyday print (the Hebrew alphabet is primarily consonants, with vowels indicated by dots and dashes above or below each letter). Or are we headed more toward the form of writing common in the ancient world, where all inter-word spaces are eliminated and only upper-case letters were used? Tedious to read, but easier to type with your thumbs.
Perhaps in a few decades we’ll give up on words themselves and just speak out the letters as a social shorthand for what we really mean. If so, I have only one thing to say: OMG.
Oh, and if you weren’t able to successfully parse the opening sentence, here it is in long form:
The team’s Product Owner, Police (or Petty) Officer Peter O’Pio, was really Pissed Off when he found the Purchase Order at the Post Office.