A Problem with Abbreviations and Acronyms

by billswift 1 min read12th Aug 201128 comments


I posted this in the comments at Eric Raymond's blog:

I am really tired of three letter acronyms. There are too few alternatives, so even though there may not be much confusion in context, the first thing that springs to mind is not likely to be correct, which brings you to a screeching halt while you think about it – like a confusing mis-spelling of a word.

For example, I hate rms, meaning Stallman, because every time I see it I first think root-mean-square which I was familiar with long before I ever used a computer. And I used to live in Prince George’s county Maryland, so everything starting with PG brings up the wrong initial response.

Then I realized some here may find it useful.

Extensive use of abbreviations and acronyms was primarily a convenience for writers, when writing was done by hand and then by typewriter, there is less justification for it now when most writing is done by computer.  And as my comment points out it is usually a negative for readers. It does benefit readers when you can convert a long phrase into a readable word, SCUBA and LASER spring to mind, but that doesn't occur often.