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Are acronyms becoming archaic?

So, I was walking my dogs past the Groton Electric Light Department building yesterday before work just as a van from neighboring town Littleton's electric company was cruising by. I know who it was because the van's door had a big LELD acronym, with Littleton Electric Light Department written in small letters under it. Hmm, I asked myself, because the dogs would think me exceedingly strange if I asked them, why doesn't Groton use an acronym too? Oh, I thought, as the image of GELD being emblazoned on the building ran through my head. Never mind--the guys would not like that.

But even for those with less-scary initials, the acronym-crazy days do seem to be coming to a close, finally, though you couldn't tell by looking through the CIC APEX Industry Glossary, or reading any IMs (instant messages). There are rumors that even KFC is going back to its original moniker of Kentucky Fried Chicken (or is that Kitchen Fresh Chicken? But I digress.)

The whole acronym thing always seemed a little silly to me, especially since, in most cases, you have to spell out the whole name anyway. Like The Arc, formerly the Association for Retarded Citizens, or AARP, formerly the American Association for Retired Persons (both fine organizations that do very good work, but I don't think officially going with an acronym as the name does anything for them). If something about your name doesn't work, change the name, don't shorten it to a heiroglyph.

Where am I going with this? I'm not entirely sure. Is the de-acronymization of this country an indication that our attention spans are finally increasing to the point where we can remember entire phrases? Is clarity becoming more important than brevity? Or have we just run out of unique letter combinations to the point that CMP could be anything from a Complete Meeting Package to a Certified Meeting Professional to the Civilian Marksmanship Program to the California Museum of Photography to, well, you get my point. Google any acronym you like, and you'll get the same 11,900,000 results, more or less, that CMP gets. If you want people to find you, or your meeting (see, I got to meetings eventually!), you need to spell it out.

And isn't this ironic, coming from someone who works for magazines with logos like AM (for early risers, perhaps?), MM (for afficionados of little round candies?), CMI (for oceans with identity crises?), ICP (for those going through potty training?), and RCM (for really cool musicians?). Ah, yes, but we're working on that as we speak. Look for very cool new logos coming soon.

Enough of this rambling...I better GBTW (get back to work) ASAP (as soon as possible) before all this ranting results in a last-minute SNAFU (situation normal, all fouled up) with getting the J/A (July/August) issue of MM (Medical Meetings) OTD (out the door). I hope this post made you think, or ROTFL (took me a while to figure out that means roll on the floor laughing), or have a craving for alphabet soup, or something. OK, back to work!

Yours truly,

Susan Abbot Pelletier (though some might argue that SAP better describes me)

Update: Our ever-vigilant copyeditor informs me that many of the acronyms I talk about here (snafu, for example) are actually initialisms, where the letters form a word that you pronounce as a word, not as the letters. Well, I've learned my new thing for the day—thanks, Barbara!

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