Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Much Do Ppl Love Abbrevs?

On Monday I wrote about some of the ever-present acronyms in our lives, and it got me thinking about a story from college. We had a friend who loved valley-girl abbreviations like obvi in place of "obviously," and totes instead of "totally." One day, someone asked her, "Do you think you could talk in all abbrevs?" Her response: "Def."

Another of my college friends was fond of the word dece to describe anything that was just okay. He often called girls dece, which always reminded me of the Bruce Springsteen line "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright."

Some other college abbrevs are well-known (dormcaf, frat), but a few of the ones my friends used are less common (bangled to shorten "belligerently mangled" and dia for "diarrhea"*).

*Yup, college was an interesting time.

Since I graduated, I hear abbreviations even more frequently. In the Twitter era, people are always looking to shorten words and phrases, to the point where it makes things confusing. Ever since I joined Twitter, I've been baffled by the wide array of hashtagged nonsense. #FF? #TBT? WTF?!?! The acronyms and abbreviations can take 4ever to sort thru.

Kerry just showed that to me. #LateToThePartay

Some of my favorite abbreviations, though, existed long before the dawn of the Twitterverse. I love playing b-ball, I couldn't live without a stocked fridge, and two of my favorite places are the deli and the pub.

In The Proud Highway, a collection of Hunter S. Thompson's letters, HST* writes an angry 1963 missive to the Postmaster General about the new ZIP code system. Here's what the first part of the letter says:

"Sir,
I would appreciate knowing if you mean to continue the stupid, vicious 'Zip code' system, instituted by your predecessor. If so, I would also appreciate an explanation of the same. Is it, in fact, any more or less than governmental harassment dreamed up by an anti-social pervert?..." 

But Thompson should have been more outraged about the equally-new two-letter state abbreviation system instituted by the Postal Service. MO for Missouri and ME for Maine? Now that's anti-social and perverted.

Judging from the thousands of letters Thompson later sent, I guess he got used to ZIP codes. Just as I'll get used to Twitterese and my children will get used to speaking in only abbrevs. Totes abbrevs, that is.

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