Acronyms (HLD 128)

28 July 2020

Todays mental dribble is brought to you again after a discussion with my mum again. Mum has a favourite acronym she applies to food served in her nursing home, if it’s not totally obvious what the recipe was aiming at. She calls it GOK (God Only Knows). It would appear that this is on the menu quite regularly.

So I started pondering acronyms and how they appear to have taken over our lives and language. You might think that they are a relatively recent phenomenon, but acronyms have been around for centuries. Romans and Greeks used them, the fish symbol for early Christians is a form on acronym, and even our calendar (AD, BC) and clocks (AM, PM) are much less wordy due to use of acronyms. We all abbreviate our State titles, our dates of birth, post codes, and name titles.

I did a little research – not much, because I’m lazy – and immediately realised how abbreviating a company name, a government department, a medical condition – WHATEVER – has become so entrenched into our society that we will automatically try to shorten anything. Maybe I get my laziness from society in general.

Apparently one past US President was so bemused by all the acronyms of Government and Military departments, that he referred to them as “Alphabet Soup”. Ironically this president was Rooseveldt, more commonly known to as FDR.

I came across a list of acronyms officially listed by the Australian Government. You’d imagine that they would have a department to be in charge of all their acronyms. And logically you’d call it AGAD (Australian Government Acronym Department) – but no, there isn’t one listed. Maybe it’s secret. But looking through the over 140 acronyms on their supplied list, you would query whether they have made the names any easier to pronounce. Obviously the AFP as Australian Federal Police rolls off the tongue, but maybe not so HoRSCATSIA (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs). Go have a look if you’ve got nothing better to do for a day or two.

And the medical world do love their acronyms too. Obviously we would all visit a GP, because calling them a General Practitioner, or a doctor, is way too wordy. Those of us who watch football regularly are full bottles on the ACL or PCL and its effect on our players. So many of us immediately go to google to find out what tests are being requested from blood tests our GP has ordered. Because let’s face it, even if we could read the doctors handwriting we would have no idea what they’re looking for. In a list of medical acronyms I came across an AKA, which I thought was obviously, to the rest of us, Also Known As. But apparently in the medical world, it’s an Above Knee Amputation. So be careful with that one, everyone!

Anyway – from here on in, I’m going to assume you all know how to spell diarrhoea, and these daily offerings will be known as HLD. (NB as far as the website is concerned I’ve referred to them as HLD from the start – elsewhere I’ve been typing diarrhoea an awful lot!)

Oh – and looking through the Government Acronym List (the GAL?), I noticed there was an obvious item missing. There’s NFA (No Further Action), and NFP (Not For Profit). Obviously NFI is missing, for some strange reason. Possibly the secret acronym redaction committee (SARC) have removed it.

I have No F*ing Idea why.

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