Acronyms and "Textese" · 28 March 2008

It seems that everybody uses acronyms these days. RSVP and ASAP used to be the most common. These days, people say LOL and BFF and a bunch of others that I have not a clue what they mean. It is as if we need Closed Captioning (CC) for life.

When I worked as an engineer, there were lots of acronyms. However, we did not use RSVP for meeting invitations. When the boss said to be there, we knew we did not have much choice in responding to let him know whether we were going to be there or not. As Soon As Possible (ASAP) was used on lots of rush jobs. But when it seemed like everything was labeled ASAP, the sense of urgency was lost. There were lots of other acronyms as well.

Acronyms were just part of life in our company. There were so many, in fact, that there were dictionaries of acronyms for different parts of the company. Some of those acronyms like HUD (Heads Up Display) have made it into video games and almost every day life. Others were so obscure and specialized that everybody needed an acronym dictionary. Those who used specific ones every day still needed dictionaries for all the acronyms except those specific ones that were a part of their everyday lives.

Today, it seems that those who do not text message on their phones need to have text message dictionaries. Those who send text messages do not even think of their messages as having short cuts or acronyms. LOL is not an acronym for Laugh(ing) Out Loud. It IS Laugh(ing) Out Loud. Just like BFF is Best Friend Forever. These and so many more are seeping into our speech all the time but I still need an interpreter when I hear people talking with “text” shortcuts. Even the words “text” and “texting” are now used as shortcuts for text message and text messaging. It is as if there is a new language or sublanguage called “textese.”

As useful as acronyms might be, I would like to have an interpreter when people talk in textese. Better yet, I would like to have my own personal HUD with CC when I hear people LOL with their BFF about who knows what. Most likely though, I will just stay behind the times and hope that people try to use real words rather than make me madly flip through the pages of an acronym or textese dictionary whenever they speak.

© 2008 Michael T. Miyoshi

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