Use your words

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.

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