Is it possible to live in a world without acronyms? I’m a government contractor; my whole workday is filled with alphabet soup. The business world in general uses them all the time, and it’s everywhere in software, so even if I weren’t in the government contracting business, I don’t think I could escape acronyms. Maybe I can avoid them when I’m not talking about work. Would I sound like the biggest weirdo if I pronounced whole words instead of acronyms?*
[Big pause: I fell down the Google rabbit hole and learned some things.]
Things I didn’t know before this morning’s googling:
- Acronyms are only acronyms if you can pronounce them as a word (like NATO). If you’re just saying the letters in order (like FBI), it’s an initialism.
- Initialism is a word (and its plural is initialisms). Who knew? Microsoft’s spellcheck does not agree that it’s a word, but the internet says otherwise, and I know that the internet is always right.
- When you say the whole word (or phrase or proper name or whatever), all spelled out (like I’m considering doing), you’re saying the expansion of the acronym. I didn’t know that was a thing! I mean, obviously it’s a thing. I just didn’t know it had a word (expansion).
And all of this started because I was wondering if I would have to say television instead of TV, so I googled to see if TV was an acronym. Answer: No, it’s an abbreviation. (I suppose it could be an initialism, but it’s short for one word, not two….it’s debatable, I guess, but now I am equipped for the debate.)
Back to my original point: I am tired of acronyms (and initialisms), and I’m going to try to avoid them in all non-work situations. I have no idea if this is going to be difficult. How many do I run into on a daily basis? What’s much more likely (than success) is that I’ll have forgotten about this plan by morning.
*Will I sound like a weirdo? It depends (and probably, yes). If I spell out – I mean, if I use the expansion of sonar or laser, then I will be very much the weirdo. Zip code is a sneaky one. And PIN. This probably won’t last.