AWTATAE?

Have you noticed that we are speaking in code lately? Okay, maybe not code — yet — but certainly in abbreviations.

Everything is abbreviated these days. In the news we hear about WMD (weapons of mass destruction), AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula),  GNP (the Gross National Product), etc (et cetera), etc (et cetera – oh wait! It’s ok (okay) to use that one in this instance! Forgive me dear reader!)

In our texting, emails, even our speech we are using the all too common LOL (which in medical circles is used to refer to ‘little old ladies’ – who sometimes do, say, and tell you things that make you LOL – laugh out loud), TTFN (horribly misappropriated without credit from A.A. Milne), OMG (oh my – fill in your own G, thank you very much), and my personal favorite AFK (away from keyboard – so, just how did you send that then?)

My point is that we have become so inured to, or perhaps it is enraptured with abbreviations that we are now creating personalized, customized sub-dialects with them. Here’s a case in point.

The other day someone asked me if I liked BCD. Of course, my mind ran immediately to the BCD Korean restaurant in Edmunds and I began to wax poetic on the wonders of their soondubu jigae.  (Incidentally, if you don’t live in Washington, there are BCD locations in California, New Jersey, New York, and of course, Seoul, Korea)

My companion looked very much like the RCA dog. His head cocked to the side and a quizzical expression clouded his otherwise intelligent face. When I paused for breath he interrupted me, frustration and exasperation suffusing his voice. “What are you talking about?  I meant blue cheese dressing.”

I uttered that amazingly useful British noise, “Ah!” and, with new enlightenment and understanding went on to answer his question. (See, even your blogger does it! But I do it in a foreign language – English.)

So what’s the etiology of this trend? I’m tempted to maliciously attribute it to modern causes but really, it’s been coming for quite some time. It probably started with jargon. Those lovely short cut phrases that communicate so much in so few words.  Of course, you have to be part of the community to get the jargon or you have to wait until it’s popularized by the entertainment industry in their ongoing effort for authenticity. Yeah! Right!. Jargon lead to abbreviations. I mean, when you have cram some news into the crannies between commercials you just don’t have time to say ‘the Department of Defense’. DoD fills the bill and leaves you precious nanoseconds to try to convey something else of substance like, ‘Why your tuna salad recipe may be contributing to left handedness among Third World children – don’t miss this vital story tonight at 11!’

Next came Twitter. An aside here. You may have noticed; I like words. I like to hear the sound of my own keyboard clacking. How am I ever going to master limiting myself to 140 characters? (HELP me Twitter diva Obi Wan Mariah!) Actually, I think there’s sound medical evidence for the 140 character figure. Any more than that at a time and you are at serious risk of getting repetitive motion disorders (RMD – not to be confused with the financial RMD which refers to Required Minimum Distributions. You see how this gets really confusing; really fast? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. ‘A neurologist and a financial planner were drinking in a bar. The neurologist said, …’ – you get the idea.)

Well, I’m sure there was a point to this rant but I’ve rather lost it. Oh wait! I remember now. My friend and neighbor wrote a post on his blog recently (August 30, 2013). In his discussion of punctuation, he cites a “punctuation social personalities” chart developed by Carrie  Keplinger. He further expands upon it with his own offerings. Brilliant!

amendments to Keplinger as proposed by Robert Stroud - smart guy and good neighbor.

amendments to Keplinger as proposed by Robert Stroud – smart guy and good neighbor.

Courtesy of Carrie Keplinger via mereinkling.wordpress.com

Courtesy of Carrie Keplinger via mereinkling.wordpress.com

The blog post has inspired me to propose a whole new means of social media communication based on symbols alone. So, I’m making a push for all of us to adopt his new system. Imagine, one symbol filling in for two, three, or even the ridiculously long four letters.

If we do this, we can revolutionize communication.

Consider this example in the evolution of a personal ad.

Single white male. Positive outlook on life. Easy going. Come share my strawberry shortcake.

which becomes the personally abbreviated:

SWM, Ts+, EZG, CSSS

which can now be:

/ ~ π

See how much better that is? With just a modicum of effort (and a radical redesign of keyboards) we can change the face of communication, forever. Or until we get so confused we have to revert to actual words.

Naaah! It’ll never happen.

P.S. (Dang it! There’s another abbreviation. Can’t seem to get away from them, can we?) Anyway, you’ve probably been wondering what the title means. I simply am asking, Are We Taking Abbreviations To Absurd Extremes? You tell me. And do you notice how well I fit the () personality type on the Keplinger’s Punctuation Social Personalities chart?

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3 thoughts on “AWTATAE?

  1. All you have to do is say something enlightened, transcendent, and illuminating in just 140 characters. Because that’s what everything on Twitter is.

    –Twitter Diva Obi Wan Mariah (AKA TDOBWM)

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