In the past ten years, acronyms have sprouted up quicker than weeds in my front yard. I find this annoying. Both the weeds and the acronyms.
For many years, the government was the primary source of theses nonsensical terms. In an effort to bamboozle the public, politicians and federal agents tossed out acronyms like beads at a Mardi Gras parade.
Like the weeds that have embedded themselves in my lawn, acronyms have weaseled their way into the English language and have no intention of leaving. Some acronyms have even become words, like radar, lasik, and laser, but Webster’s Dictionary is no help in discovering what NTSB, NYSE, ADA, GNP, ICBM and LPTV mean.
After a several months of use, acronyms take on a life of their own. Few people can tell you what the letters OSHA represent, but almost everyone knows “Oh-Shaw” can make a small businessman’s life a nightmare. Same goes for the ACLU, who from what I read protects one person’s rights at the expense of someone else’s.
Another bad example is the Individual Retirement Account (IRA). First pronounced I-R-A, but soon it became an Ira. My broker told me the other day, “Get an Ira.” I went to high school with a guy named Ira Paul Rulla. I don’t think that’s what he meant.
A month ago my computer, an aging dinosaur in the rapidly changing world of technology, refused to plod along at any speed. I dreaded visiting the You Better Buy It Now mega-computer store where every clerk is younger than twenty-three and speaks serious techno-geek, a language foreign to me.
“How much RAM do you want? You’ll need a CD burner. What’s your current CPU? How many Gigs? Who’s your ISP?” The dunce cap he gave me fit perfectly.
If you want to experience the granddaddy of acronym usage, watch a few pharmaceutical commercials on TV. I’ve come to the conclusion every disease known to mankind can be reduced to two or three letters. People suffer with COPD, MS, TB, TIA, ADD, ADDL, ARD, and ADHD to name a few. I have no idea what these hideous ailments are, but per the commercials, a miracle drug, with enough side effects to drop a moose, will cure them.
Nothing is scared anymore. A few years ago a well-known politician beamed into the camera and told the world he suffers from ED (Erectile Dysfunction.) I’m not as old as he is, but he ought to know better.
When I was in high school, which was shortly after the stone age, matters like this would never have been discussed. For heaven’s sake, it was still considered shameful for a young girl to have a baby before she was married. Polite people did not use the word pregnant, we said, “She’s PG.” What a U-turn we’ve made in our language. Now five year olds squeal, “Mommy’s pregnant.” I suppose referring to someone being PG went out of fashion, about the time the motion picture industry started using PG as a movie rating.