Thursday, June 5, 2014

Don't Be an Ass

My future husband
The "evolution" of communication brought about by technological advancements does not negate basic grammatical structures.

In other words, now that y'all are using nothing but abbreviations and acronyms in written communication, at least use them correctly, dammit.  It may not seem to matter while texting, tweeting, snap-chatting but those mistakes will transfer to an arena where it does matter.

Abbreviations are shortened versions of a word, but that doesn't mean they aren't just as important as what they stand for. Missus David Draiman (my name once he skips out on that gorgeous model wife and new baby for little ol' me) implies no more than Mrs. David Draiman; I am no less a wife by using Mrs. (actually, I'm not a wife at all, but that's not the point). 

By the same token, Lieutenant Van Buren doesn't lose any of her brash, ball-busting authority by signing her name Lt. Van Buren when she writes up Briscoe for being a smart-ass or Curtis for being a tight-ass.

Acronyms are a type of abbreviation. A basic abbreviation is the shortening of one word; an acronym is the shortening of a phrase into a single word which is constructed from the first letters of each word.  For example, NASA is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  NASA is both an abbreviation and an acronym; Mrs. is just an abbreviation.

What abbreviations do is make communicating, and filling out forms, a bit easier. Who the hell wants to say, "I have to get up at 5 ante meridian," when it is so much easier to say, "5 A.M."  Hell, "abbreviation" even has an abbreviation: abbr.  But just because it's shorter, doesn't mean there aren't any rules:

1)  The period and capitalization can affect meaning.  Abbreviations only capitalize the first letter or each letter after a period; acronyms are always written using all caps and no periods.  A B.S. in physics is not the same as using BS to get through physics. Albert Einstein had a B.S. in physics; the closest thing I come to having knowledge in physics is BS. 

2)  Abbreviations are written not spoken; acronyms are both written and spoken. Saying "Mrs. Draiman" sounds the same as "Missus Draiman;" one does not pronounce my future name as "Mmmrrrsss Draiman." Detective Curtis called Lt. Van Buren "L-T" but he's still a tight-ass.

3) Abbreviations are not arbitrary.  There is a correct way to abbreviate things; one can't just shorten a word any way he or she likes and consider it correct.  Take the following example from a student's paper:

"One of the cadets absent was our Class Sgt. and the other was our Class Ass. (Class Assistant).  Another cadet volunteered to become to new Class Sgt. and I volunteered to become the new Class Ass. because I knew it would please the instructors by being a leader.  I moved from my position from the right to my new position, the Class Ass. Position on the left."

I don't know about other teachers, but my class ass is never absent.  But I guess I'm supposed to put all the asses on the left side of the classroom. 

My student's error may have provided me with a few laughs (and material for a blog post), but the panel of judges grading his project will just think he's an ass. BTW, the correct abbr. for assistant is asst. 

Maybe being an ass is conducive for being an assistant, but I wouldn't put that in writing. 

You Fahrenheit 451ers are totally ignoring these basic rules.  LOL is usually written like an acronym, but we don't pronounce it like one. We say "L-O-L" not "loll." Technically, it's an abbreviation, not an acronym, and should be written like this: L.O.L.   So when those insurance commercials poke fun at the out-of-touch father who says, "loll," it is the insurance company, not the father, who is an idiot. 

I suppose asking teens to put their periods in the write place when engaging in social networking is setting the bar a bit high.  Let's get them to capitalize "I" first.  

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