Abbreviations Drive Me Bonkers!
No doubt I’m not the first person to feel this way, but when abbreviations are used without an explanation at all, how is a mere observer or reader who has stumbled upon the scene suppose to understand?
Example: I was on Ravelry and came across a pattern that referred to a shawl KAL (it’s one of the most popular patterns right now). Huh? “KAL”? What the hell is that? After a thorough Google search, I finally found out that it means “knit along”. Now that’s all fine and good, but I’m more annoyed that I had to actively search for a term and felt helpless and confused when I first read the term (until I used the magical power of teh tubes).
As someone who is in Public Relations, I know the importance of communicating your message to a broad audience. And that’s when jargon often comes out to play and mess around, especially in the corporate world or a focused industry. At work, we often make references to my office’s SLT (Senior Leadership Team), but anyone outside of our organization usually looks at me bewildered when I ramble on about “I read an article on *insert topic* and sent on info to the SLT to keep them in the loop”.
Back to the knitting example above – I suppose one could argue that because I was in a very focused community (we’re all knitters and/or crocheters) that I should be aware of the common terms. And the counter argue is that in the many months I’ve been on Ravelry, I’ve never heard of a knit along shawl (or anything like it). Not to mention that I only started knitting about a hear and a half ago, so I still consider myself to relatively new to the craft. Heck, I’ve only ventured into crochet in the last month (so I’m a total newbie!).
I will admit that sometimes it’s a lot easier to say a few letters than it is to garble out a mouthful of words that may seem commonly used, but for anyone who is new to the scene, they could bet thinking “WTH (what the hell) does that mean?!” and are probably not even listening to the rest of the conversation.
There’s also room for misinterpretation. OK I’ll confess… for months, when I first saw “FTW” I thought it was “f*%&-the what?” Alright, go ahead and laugh, I understand. I just thought it was a play on l33t speak and a fun way to express confusion; as if your taking WTH or WTF to a higher level of exclamation. For anyone wondering, FTW means “for the win” which is still within the nerd-l33t genre.
So the next time you’re writing or talking to a group of people, try to remember that there may be a reader or attendee who has NO idea what those few letters you just spewed our mean. By spelling it out (literally!) you may have a better chance of someone saying “wow I see your points that’s really interesting *continues conversation and you get into a deep discussion*” instead of “um yeah, that’s… ah, interesting *insert changing of the subject*”.
oh man i was totally going to nail you on throwing out the term ‘l33t speak’ in a post about confusing terminology, but you made it a clickable link to the definition. you win this round…
Muhwahahaha! I’m smarter than the average bear my friend. I try to include links where possible to help my readers (all two of you!). ;)
Very well said, Virginia! Coming from social services where alphabet soup is the mot du jour, I appreciate your frustration with acronyms and abbreviations. It can make for a frustratingly, unhealthful diet of misunderstanding. I will only admit to a pinch of jargon for dessert… :)
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