No the title isn’t written in some long forgotten language, like I would know any other language. English is enough of a challenge for me. These are all acronyms we run into in manufacturing. Have you ever noticed how many acronyms are used in business, the military and of course the king, government, can you say IRS. Oh by the way, Happy Tax day for those of you writing a check to the government today, like myself. Such a wonderful day it is.
But what about these acronyms. Why so many and wide-spread use. Is it laziness? Is it really that difficult to say Internal Revenue Service (well, today it is)? Why do we need to shorten it to IRS? Now I might see something like Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus SCUBA but it still really isn’t that difficult to say. It might be laziness but I think it is much more.
There is no real defined starting place for acronyms but we know they date back to the Roman Empire. The official name for the Roman Empire was abbreviated SPQR for Senatus Populusque Romanus. If you ask me Roman Empire works as well as any of them. The church uses the inscription INRI over the crucifix which stands for the Latin Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum (Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews).
In the 19th century acronyms flourished in the America and Europe. Railroads began forming acronyms from their long names, newspapers and stock ticker tape began using acronyms for company names. AT&T, American Telephone and Telegraph, Sunoco, Sun Oil Company, IBM for International Business Machines.
The military and law enforcement are some of the widest users of acronyms. The difference is their acronyms all sound cool. I think there is a high-ranking officer, somewhere in the depths of the Pentagon, responsible for creating all the military’s acronyms and insuring they sound cool. There must be, how else would we have COMCRUDESPAC, Commander, cruisers destroyers Pacific. COMCRUDESPAC just sounds tough. In law enforcement they have BOLO be on the look out for and SWAT Special Weapons and Tactics. Both sound very cool. The military even has an acronym YABA which stands for Yet Another Bloody Acronym.
With the advent of texting and instant messaging we could go on to explore an entire new realm of acronyms like GF Girl Friend, LOL Laughing Out Loud and the entire language being developed but I’m too old for all that so we’ll just skip that topic for another time.
So that still leaves us with why acronyms are so widely used. Since this is my Blog, I will happily offer my answer to the question. I think organizations use acronyms to allow them to feel exclusive and aloof to outsiders. They feel cool when only their small group understands what is being talked about. They throw in their acronyms and then look at you, the outsider and exclaim, “Oh…I’m sorry that means …… often accompanied by a condescending chuckle. So that’s my take on acronyms, ridicules and immature as it is.
So if you’ll excuse me, I need to review an OSHA report to determine if any CARs or NCRs are required to be compliant with ISO and ensure we continue our TQM initiative. Just saying.