Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NASA and acronyms

At work this morning, the day began with a discussion about acronyms and how confusing they get.  I actually relayed a story I remember about how Bill Clinton got so fed up with the numerous acronyms used by the Pentagon that he actually wrote an excutive order for the military to reduce acronym usage.  Of course, the Pentagon quickly reduced the title to an acronym.  I did some quick research and I could not find a reference to the actual executive order- so I chaulk it up to a joke.  I wish I could find the original joke.  If anyone can please let me know.

What I did find an Clinton executive order calling for plain language in Government Writing.


Acronyms run along the fence between improving and blocking communication.  The more specalized the group the more specialize the acronyms, but the less general the acronyms are usable by an audience.  However, some terms just jumble in the mouth and acronyms become optimal to use.

This is one of my pet peeves.  I do my best to always define an acronym the first time I use it in any writing (including email).  I will also be sure to ask the question if I am in a meeting or viewing a presentation. 


Stephanie Barr said...

I can't learn acronyms any more. I reached acronym saturation about ten years ago working Hubble which had a 54 page acronym list, two columns, single spaced for Hubble hardware alone - that wasn't counting extravehicular (EVA) acronyms or Shuttle acronyms or NASA acronyms.

Now I can't learn a new one without forgetting one I already knew - and I have no control over which one goes.

rocketsciencesense said...

I am reviewing a document now where that list of abbreviations where one abbreviation means two similar but different things. Ready to throw thunder bolts since I already commented on this.

Also, note: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_abbreviation_and_acronym