IT Policies

Negotiating the world of acronyms


I find it ironic that acronyms came to exist because we needed a way to abbreviate some of the vast amounts of information coming at us. Like, NASA is much easier to remember than National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We've taken such a liking to acronyms--some estimates have the number at nearly three million--that it's almost become a language in and of itself. And we pronounce many acronyms as words (e.g., RAM, SAN, etc.). It's much easier that way, but there are some acronyms that just don't sound right to me as words.

For example, I'm OK with the acronyms we use to abbreviate some of the word-heavy regulatory compliance laws. I'd must rather say HIPAA, than Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Although it does bring to mind this guy. And SOX (for Sarbanes-Oxley) is kinda cute. But what's up with FERPA? (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) It sounds like something my cat would cough up.

And here are some other acronyms pronunciations I could do without:

  • GUI (pronounced gooey)--Sorry, but "gooey" makes me think of melted chocolate. Please do not even compare the two.
  • URL--This one would have been OK if not for Wayne's World, which introduced the word "hurl." So every time someone pronounces url, I think of the act of vomiting. Eeew.
  • VoIP--Apparently it's now cool to pronounce this as one word. That doesn't make it any less goofy sounding.
  • SCSI (pronounced skuzzy)--According to Webster's dictionary, scuzzy means "dirty, repulsive, and disgusting." Nice.
  • WYSIWYG--Wasn't that the name of the shop owner Ebenezer Scrooge worked for when he was a kid? No, wait, that was Fezziwig. Close enough.

Got any acronym pet peeves of your own? If so, RSVP asap.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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