Thursday, February 19, 2009

Acronyms and short messages

I like letter writing and now, the electronic letter writing. I pride myself in being able to type long SMS messages on my mobile phone.. Some of my friends have even called me back to ask if I think calling up would be easier than typing that lonnnngggg sms. Never once I have consciously used an Acronym or a Short form.

So, that being the case, I walk into this company on Day 1. The security says, Do you belong to STSD division? I said, 'yes' like I completely knew what it meant... but as a matter of fact, I didn't. I remember seeing it on my appointment order, so I got through it. Then, walked a little further down the lobby and some asks, 'Do we have to submit our i card application here?'. So that's the second short form. Over a few years of getting used to wearing an Identity tag around my neck, it was not a tough guess that i card meant identity card. There was this routine of filling up some ten different forms during the first day and each form had at least one acronym - PF, PPF, EPSF,VPF,FBP and all these were the character combinations I had to learn.

So with all that academic information in mind, I walk into the work place to be greeted by people whose names were almost sounding like acronyms. Everyone had a shortened form of their names.

Once in, came a host of other work related acronyms.. My mind refused to take in any more, but that's exactly what I've had to live with ever since..You have acronyms for movies, engineering, documents and just about anything...

Okay, so convinced that you have to live in an acronym world, I manage whatever little I can take in and if its absolutely required, look up on Google to know what some weird chaining of alphabetic characters meant.

But then, let me tell you, there was one email that I had sometime last month, which I am still not able to figure out.... it goes like this...

'I cd nt cme fr the int l8r n the mth, so hd 2 do nw.'

Now, tell me.. is'nt this a little puzzle by itself ?? and I have to understand this and respond as well..... May be this sender is used to a lot of short messages herself, but is'nt it too much to expect that every reader understands all of it?? I guess so.. I may be a little demanding, but then its only fair to expect a neat full text message, if I am expected to understand and give a response.

If you think am cribbing, you've got it right, but then my point here is very simple, write messages for someone to understand.. Do not expect everyone to know what is what....Like UNO and UNESCO and WHO are world known well-deserving and accepted acronyms... The short forms 'brb' and 'ttyl' are okay in chat windows, as there is a whole website that says some standard short form practices accepted world wide.... SE and CMM are accepted in IT industry .... PO and SO are well known in Sales and Marketing .... PVC is known in Chemistry and GDP in commerce .... RD in banking ... but try mentioning SE to some one in railways.. the response would promptly be' Are you referring to South Eastern railways?'. HP to me, meant Hewlett-Packard. The old man who was talking to me asked, if I was working with Hindustan Petroleum. I am sure you'd believe me, if I say that he knows SRK stands for Shah Rukh Khan.

With all these to ponder, can you explain the usage of short forms like 'I cd nt cme fr the int l8r n the mth, so hd 2 do nw' on an email? Clearly the intention was not to receive a response. Had it not been a personal email, I would not have cared to respond at all.. Perhaps, that is why, people write official mails without short forms :)

Thanks to one of my friends who asked for a post on Acronyms from me, else I would not have thought about it, given that I have so much distaste for them. Thank you, friend. I feel much better having poured out the thoughts :)


Casey said...

hey - really nice post! Totally lowed reading it. - I was nodding at almost every sentence :D Today's world eh?? I used to believe being on top of it all was an achievement before I realized that you can never ever be. :(
On the other hand when an intern at work asked me what was ROFL - which I use pretty often - I was surprised and grinning ear-to-ear.Its not very often tht happens :D

விழியன் said...

Good Post.
I too often used to think why people are shortening things to such a extent that we tend to forget the context and content.

Keep Posting. Happy writing.

nishitak said...

You hit the nail on the head...and big companies are especially guilty of this.

Sometimes, I think it is just a way for people to intimidate newcomers and "put them in their place" so to speak :)

Anonymous said...

now can u please decode that "int" and "mth" in the sentence please

'I cd nt cme fr the int l8r n the mth, so hd 2 do nw.'

good one, i like your recent post too.

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