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Sep 6, 2008 12:24 PM

ACRONYMS: Could we use them less and more responsibly?


Perhaps I'm not the only Chowhounder who finds acronyms overused and abused? I can remember many times a (new?), Chowhounder asking, "What does OP mean?" I'm not suggesting that we stop using "OP", but these questions suggest that there are confused newbies, neophytes or unhip, out of step Chowhounders out there. I constantly leave “Acronym Finder” open in my browser to help me understand posts. I admit I'm an old fart. Right now, I'm having enough trouble learning Spanish, as a second language.

So, is it just me? Am I the only curmudgeon on Chowhound slowed down by them? I think if you start using obscure and specialized acronyms you should at least state what they mean (in parentheses), the first time you use them in the thread. I was a busboy at 16. The food industry lingo means little to me, so FOH, BOH, MP and other restaurant acronyms are often difficult for some of us to decipher. I've heard others ask.... I have enough trouble remembering RDA and BYOB. Many acronyms have multiple, common meanings. I would appreciate New Englanders, who use only "NH" in the title of a post, to consider that I immediately think of "New Haven"! It is in New England, just as New Hampshire is. There are more search results for NH "New Haven" than there are for NH "New Hampshire".

My acronym anxiety is compounded by two things:
One: Chowhound has graciously given us an expandable box to write in (which I really appreciate, when I get longwinded), but they don't allow for any expression (like italics), with text. If you want to be more expressive you have to SHOUT! A lot of emphatic words in caps, (and sometimes inappropriate emphasis), mixed in with strange capitalized acronyms and abbreviated words, often make my mental gears jam.
Two: People choose weird Chowhound names, which often appear as acronyms. Chowhounders, unable to cope with weird ciphers, long or unspellable, farcical names, often create their own abbreviated nicknames, when they address the Chowhounder. That can really start to confuse things when it's mixed into a sentence containing acronyms and/or other abbreviations. I am guilty of doing this because I can't remember, or don't want to remember and type in, a long, bizarre name. Think about your Chowhound name. Would you name your child that? Think of how they would be ridiculed in school and their name shortened to a workable nickname. Also, remember, I confuse easily.

I do not text message (TM), (or, is that "trade mark" or "time management"?). I don't ever intend to. I have built my last two computers but perhaps I am a luddite about this. I N V U (in my humble opinion), is not appropriate on Chowhound. I think, given the limited Chowhound writing format, it is a poor place to use text messaging lingo. You are supposed to use teeny-tiny keypads on cell phones for that, when you are illicitly communicating in class! I like it when Chowhounders are more "conversational".

Do you think we could try and limit ourselves to a few acronyms like DH, DW, OK and SO, so there's less ambiguity and mystification? There is a lot of confusion about what DH is! I think it primarily means "husband". You might also be calling him stupid.... Could we use the fancy ones with an explanation of what they stand for? Is this (and me), a hopeless cause? Would there be a place for a sentence in the etiquette area about this?

  1. Bravo Scargod. Very entertaining, amusing and spot-on. I am with you 100%.

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        1. I totally agree. But, I have to ask... do you have a kid named Scargod? JK (just kidding). I have stared at acronyms way longer than I should admit to. Sometimes, I can figure them out in context, and I kind of look at them as a brain teaser exercise. There was one awhile back that stumped me. Someone wrote "The last TWP pizzas I ordered from there were crap" (paraphrased). I went through a lot of iterations in my head, then finally hung my head in shame and typed the embarrassed reply "what is TWP?" Another CH'er replied to me "I think they meant TWO". (As in 2). Well, hell.

          Where is Acronym Finder? I've never heard of that.

          2 Replies
            1. re: stephanieh

              His name is Robogod.
              Also, another good one is Urban Dictionary. This is good for deciphering what the younger people are saying:

              BTW, whenever something looks funny...(meaning odd or wrong), I always look at my keyboard and see what letters are on the perimeter of the letter that is in question. Another common mistake is transposing letters like thsi (this). I do it when I get in a hurry.

            2. The meaning of many of the acronyms that you mention is not critical. In most cases it doesn't matter who DW or DW or SO refers to. OP as in Original Post(er) is occasionally useful, such as when a thread drifts on to a tangent. Note for example that there is the option at the bottom of this page to reply to the 'original post'. Usually if I don't understand an acronym I just ignore it.

              Acronyms are quite useful in the subject lines of regional posts. Often those are based on airport designations. For example in Pacific NW threads it helps to know whether the question is about Portland (PDX) or Seattle/Tacoma (SEA), or some other town or subregion.

              As far as I am concerned people can use any chow name they choose. 'Scargod' is not better or worse than 'small h' or 'paulj' or one of the long names. If including the name in your text might create confusion, quote it or use some other punctuation to set it apart.