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Don’t Misuse the Concept of ‘Acronyms’ and Please Spare Its Usage – An Appeal to Writers
ACRONYMS are words formed from the initial letters (normally one, sometimes more) of other words such as AIDS which is formed from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and/or LASER formed from the first letters of the words Light Amplification of Emission stimulated radiation.
Some of the other popular acronyms are:
UNESCO: United Nations Cultural Social Educational Organization (There are several abbreviations associated with UNO)
SAARC; South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
AIIMS: All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
CAD: Computer Aided Design.
COBOL: Common Business Oriented Language.
ESRO: European Space Research Organization.
HUDCO: Housing and Urban Development Corporation.
JIPMER: Jawaharlal Institute of Medical Education and Research
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA)
(The list is endless. Readers are requested to refer to a good general knowledge book for a fairly complete list of Acronyms)
From the above examples, it can be seen that the essential characteristics of an acronym are:
1. They should be formed only from the initial letters of other words.
2. They must form a complete word. There should be no periods between letters.
3. When writing, all letters must be capitalized.
4. They should not have any connection with the meaning of the parent words. (Ref AIDS and parents’ words)
But in practice, this concept is often misused by not respecting any/all norms of abbreviation characteristics. For example, in the sentence “I am an MBBS”, MBBS is not an acronym because there are dots between the letters. Likewise ‘Viscom’ (Visual Communications) is not an acronym because the content is not an individual letter and is written in lowercase letters. Neither Rs (rupee) nor Mike (Michael) are abbreviations and they are only abbreviations.
I would like to register a very crude use of this concept at the international level as well.
There is a common saying that NEWS is an acronym for North, East, West and South, which is absolutely wrong. News is a separate word that means new events. Needless to add, old events are not news, only history. They say that information is collected from four directions and thus the four directions are called NEWS in short. This is not correct because not all letters are capitalized and the amplification does not have to have the same meaning as the abbreviated words. Secondly there are more directions than the four mentioned. News is also received from space.
Another misuse of this concept is the word LIONS. People who belong to International Lions Clubs record that the LIONS motto is ‘Freedom, Intelligence and Security of our Nations’, the meaning of which only God knows. If ‘LIONS’ means the king of animals Lion, then how are the members’ children known as LION CUBS and their life partner, lion ladies? Are those ladies ‘Liberty, Intelligence and Security of our Nation’? A more important observation is that they are INTERNATIONAL CLUBS OF LYON and not just national. Therefore the question of ‘Security of Our Nation’ does not arise. It is clear that they are creating some words to put the initials.
So the Lions Clubs are crossing English words with an immature translation. (The author of this article was an active LION member for twenty years and has spent a significant portion of his savings on social service through LIONS Clubs.)
Some people make their own abbreviations and amplifications. In the choices of college students, we have observed such usage frequently. Suppose a contestant’s name is Sita, there will be posters saying Elect and choose S (sincere), I (intelligent), T (Talented), A (Active) and so on as if Sita is an acronym for the four words mentioned. What if the opponents write as sleepy, intriguing, tormenting and persistent?
It is therefore my fervent appeal to students and scholars of the English language to desist from crossing the language by misusing this concept of abbreviations. Abbreviations are used for brevity and clarity. Sometimes they are also used as a ‘secret code’. Let us not misuse this concept for narrow-minded purposes
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