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The Curse of Acronyms

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
If They Keep Using TLAs We Could Add Them To The List

Recently I had a friend request from my mate Harry Clark in Preston on Facebook. He is just getting that hang of things and eventually I got my phone number to him and yesterday we spoke for the first time , and spent forty five minutes chatting about a lot of things. I had mentioned him in a previous post “S’cooldays” which you can see here.

When I was on facebook I told him to DM me and he told me to stop using abbreviations because he didn’t know what I was talking about. I had just made an assumption that he would know, but this happens to me so often at work, there are so many abbreviations and acronyms used that you are just expected to know.

So this is just a list of acronyms that I've discovered, used and found out about your over the years. obviously we refer to these TLAs ( three-letter acronyms)and you know there are so many of them but some of them are more than three letters and some are less , so they are not necessarily TLAs but are confusing if you don’t know them.

I was talking to my mate Harry and he said he wanted my phone number, so I said just DM me or I'll DM you now. DM is “direct messaging” but he didn't know that and told me to stop using acronyms.

When we talked to told me that he couldn't stand people who continually used acronyms and then said that when people asked about how he ran projects and things like that he used SUA and when they asked what SUA was he told them it was “stop using acronyms”. Now the people who had a sense of humour and were sensible laughed and saw the sense in it, but some really took umbrage at it and I think so that says a lot about the people

I've worked virtually all my working life in IT and when you're working there you come across so many acronyms. My first programming language was COBOL which is Common Business Orientated Language and is one of the first ones that I'm aware of. Then I used JSP which was Jackson Structured Programming and various things like that.

One of these funny ones was we were working on a project at the PPA and there was a team who said to the manager there this great new system that we should be using and it's called JFDI. They said it gets things done quickly. It's the fastest way to develop and the manager was really interested in this. Hesaid can we get courses in this and can we actually do this?

The kicker wasJFDI stands for Just F****** Do It which was very amusing and the manager so believed that it was an official way of actually working (well it is) and it is another example of acronym usage.

I use acronyms when I write documentation but what I always provide is a glossary. Most people don't seem to do that and they assume that people know and they shouldn't. If you use an acronym in anything it should have a glossary to explain what it is just in case the person reading or listening doesn't know . Never assume that person knows, if you do then you're heading for a fall

So although the last bit was not about an acronym as such, again it's about being clear to your audience to make them understand what you are saying. If there's anything unclear make sure there is an explanation, just in case they might not know what you're talking about . You need to be clear on that otherwise you may as well be speaking in a foreign language. If somebody sent me a document in Hungarian, yes I could use Google translate but without that it would mean nothing to me

So I think the thing to think about is we should apply SUA to some extent. Don't use acronyms unless you know that everybody knows what that acronym is.


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Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

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