Use Your Words, People


A friend and I often discuss the ubiquitous nature of acronyms in this brave new world of hashtags and texting. We both love words and language, but it’s fair to say that texting has ushered in a whole new language, one for which there’s no special course or Rosetta Stone. So how is one to go about cracking the secret code?

Silly question, right? You’re probably going to tell me there’s an app for that. And you’d be right. Of course there is. But if you don’t come from the generation that intuitively knows what LOL, SMH, and ROTFL mean, then you also don’t naturally look for solutions to every problem in the app store.

My friend’s solution is to work in an office where 20-somethings abound. She has living, texting millennials in her midst, and she makes good use of them. She mines them for information and then discretely shares the data with her cohort, of which I am one. As with most knowledge, though, if it isn’t used soon after acquisition, it can end up in the recycle bin of the mind.

I bristle at using too many of them. I don’t even really like to LOL. In my day, we only had a few acronyms to keep up with – PS and RSVP come to mind. They must seem archaic these days, particularly since both of them were primarily related to written letters or invitations, vestiges of a bygone era.

I remember on long road trips trying to decipher vanity license plates with my sister. That’s what it feels like when I’m trying to figure out the meaning of FTW or YOLO, except I’m not huddled, unbuckled in the back seat of the family car arguing with my sister about who guessed right. In fact, coming up with alternate meanings can be a fun game. You occasionally fall on the right answer. But sometimes you also think YOLO means ‘Your Ovaries Look Old’. Since it’s no fun to play a game without a group of your most distant friends from around the globe, there’s an app for this too! The game serves up random acronyms and players posit their most creative guesses. When time’s up, players vote for their favorite. SMH…

In other acronym-related news, ‘WTF’ was recently listed among the new entries to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to which I want to respond – “WTF??” I mean, really, does this warrant a dictionary entry, other than perhaps in the Urban Dictionary? Merriam and Webster sure think so.

I appreciate that language evolves and changes. As well it should, or we would still be talking in ‘thous’ and ‘thees’. Perhaps the pace is too fast for me these days. Perhaps I’m bitter it wasn’t my generation that introduced the wild change. Or perhaps I just want you to UYWP.