Sunday, November 26, 2006

Acronyms

Acronym. It's a good word. I like the word "anacronym" too, which is the reverse of acronyms. Anacronyms are puzzles they give you in school. Take your name, for example, and using one word for each letter, describe yourself. I could do Literary Intellectual States Absolutes.

Acronyms are very popular, especially if they are pronounceable. Ladies against Feminism is abbreviated LAF, pronounced cleverly just like "laugh." In the military, for no particular reason they name their gear, bases, maneuvers, groups, etc. with large, meaningless titles then abbreviate them into acronyms. If you're motivated and immersed, you can catch on to the important ones. If you're just a friend or a sister, like me, military men are speaking foreign languages.

On PBS, whose documentary on fighter jets I am watching right now, they are very good. They say, "Surface to air missiles, or SAMs" or "SAMs, Surface to Air Missiles" so that we the abbreviation illiterate can understand. Until my friends and brother learn to speak documentary, I have to raise my hand to ask or whisper to a friend sitting by for a translation.

For my brother's birthday we went to an army surplus store, which is a large building crammed (you have no idea, really) with camoflage, coats, hats, belts, boots and tons of other stuff to whose uses I am oblivious floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with only space for two people to march shoulder to shoulder between each aisle. They are all identified with acronyms. Add to this the more understandable abbreviations like XL (extra large), symbols like $, and I'm just the most confused, overwhelmed little girl ever.

Another field that uses acronyms all the time is the computer industry. DOS, RAM, gigabytes (or is that a word?). My other brother understands computer language. Does HTML stand for something, or is its cryptic title depictive of the code-world you enter when you "view source" on a web page? Is this stuff supposed to make sense? Wasn't it hard enough to learn spelling and grammar for my language?

Speaking of learning languages, in the nursery at our church this morning I was working with a little girl, trying to get her to talk. Before this morning it never occurred to me to teach children English in the same way high school students learn a foreign language. We start with simple words, usually nouns. Then we form them into basic sentences. Slowly we teach sentence structure and verb agreement. If you apply the same to English, does it work? I always assumed language just happened to infants immersed in company. Following the pattern for foreign languages, I guess the rest of your life you'll be working on teaching objectives and subjectives and perfect tenses.

If I ever learn acronym language - really master it - maybe I'll write a dictionary or glossary. The Quick Reference Glossary of Military Acronyms. Actually my brother tells me it would be several inches thick. Sounds overwhelming, like when I read Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis and Ransom envisions publishing a Malacandrian grammar. Good thing he was a philologist!

To God be all glory.

3 comments:

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Ooh, that show was so good! I only saw one, but loved it to death. I'd love to own it...that thing about G-forces and body flexes was especially fascinating.

And army surplus stores...ooh, one of my favorite places on earth! I love going to them, and always can buy more than I do.

So, your brother wishes to enter the Marines? He must be brave. I would be proud.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

I am proud. He's let the civilian-oriented family ease into accepting his decision, though I hate to admit it, since he's so immersed in Marine mindset now. I'm really proud of his reasons for wanting to join, and his amazing dedication when his hope is so far off yet.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

That's sure good.

If you wouldn't find it odd or too uncomfortable, please tell him that I am proud, too. (Although not if you do not wish to in any way for any reason). It's hard to do something when everyone is against you, like what I just said on my blog.