Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Back to Basics in Use of Acronyms

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Back to Basics in Use of Acronyms

Article excerpt

Byline: KIERAN MORAN kieran.moran@

GLADSTONE'S title of the "Port City to the World" may be changed, due to extensive LNG investments, to Gladstone the "City of Acronyms" by 2015.

At first it was the scientists and engineers who cut words down to size, which made sense because no one could understand the language anyway.

However, slowly but surely politicians started to use acronyms on top of misused metaphors, which unfortunately have now crept into everyday verbal life.

Give it a few weeks and the Rudd Government's "Back to Basics" rhetoric will become the BTB campaign in the hope that everyone will forget the failed ETS campaign.

As a journalist, using acronyms saves time, but it is also a minefield of misunderstanding.

In an article I wrote some weeks ago, I stated Queensland Alumina Limited as QAL, thinking that everyone in Gladstone knows what QAL is. The next day I received an email requesting the meaning of QAL. From then on, I have never assumed an acronym.

Since arriving in Gladstone I have had discussions with the GRC, the GAPDL, GEA, CQU, BSL, NRG, GAGAL and the GPA to name a few. I now have a four-page acronym list of companies, associations and government agencies on my wall to try to understand the language that Gladstonites use.

I have taken part in numerous conversations where I've had to clarify who and what we are talking about and I've turned up at the wrong place due to it having the same acronym.

A study explored the effects of both prior knowledge of acronyms and their form of presentation on reader recognition of acronym meaning.

Results indicated that for acronyms at the extreme ends of the familiarity spectrum, cuing readers to the meaning is not an important factor in whether they will recognise those acronyms. .

Which suggest that unless the readers already knew the acronym, they had difficulty recognising it.

In a classic acronym antidote, a leaked memo from NASA revealed that the acronym agency (yes, they have an acronym agency) really does make up acronyms to fit words they have already come up with. …

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