Acronyms & Abbreviations

acronym:        a word formed from the initial letters of a name
abbreviation: a shortened form of a word or phrase

How can we break the habit (other people's habits, mind you) of dropping
acronyms and  abbreviations  in a conversation as if everybody is in the
know of their meaning?

Why is it that those not in the know always feel as if they haven't done their homework when the problem really is a lack of respect on part of the speaker?

Ok, ok.  Some acronyms and abbreviations are worked well into the language.
"USA" for one.

And "MIT" (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
And "OT" or "O.T."

Don't know "OT"? - well, it's the Old Testament, of course.

The problem is that people who work in these areas get so used to speaking sub lingo that they don't stop when they are among other, regular, people.

The letters "PC" indicate a "personal computer", right? (even if it isn't a "personal", stand alone, desktop computer); but see below what people at just one (1) workplace thought of when they were asked to explain the term "PC":

printed circuit
polymer concrete
photo conductive
port contenders
PEL controller
physician's certificate
protective clothing
personal computer
politically correct

add to this for instance "Police Constable", and you will see that you should not, repeat: should not take anything for granted when adressing other people.

Thus "PM" means both "Prime Minister" and "post meridiem = after midday".

Actually, I find it rude to use acronyms without making sure that everybody listening is familiar with the terminology.

As for abbreviations, similar guidelines apply.  A great many peole know what "Dr" or "Ms" means, or "Mon" and "Mar" in dates, or "TNT" (although they can't pronounce "trinitrotoluene"), but don't rely on everybody having your expertise at recreating the word froms its abbreviation.

Most people know that "B.C." means "before Christ", but not everybody knows that "A.D." refers to the Latin "anno Domini" ( = in the year of the Lord).  I even heard somebody define it as "after death".

BTW (by the way), "A.D." has now been replaced by "A.C.T." to avoid any religious affiliation.

What A.C.T. means?

"According to Common Time".
- just as "BCT" means "Before Common Time".

Easy, isn't it?
But ACT also means "Australian Capital Territory",
or "American College Test".

If you want to get your message across, consider your audience and make sure they understand.

October 2000
Erik Moldrup