WYSIWYG is the acronym for â€œwhat you see is what you getâ€ and comes from the world of information technology. It involves a user interface that allows you to view a document on your computer screen with essentially the same editing and graphics with which it will appear when printed. Wouldnâ€™t it be nice if people had such an interface? That is, some way for you to be assured that the pleasant gentleman you just met at a cocktail party is as he appears and is not secretly a pedophile or a serial killer or something.
We find acronyms used throughout our daily communications. Here are some you see every day, in case you were wondering what they stood for: â€œURLâ€ (a Uniform Resource Locator, otherwise known as a web address); â€œScubaâ€ gear (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus); â€œLaserâ€ (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation); and â€œJpegâ€ (Joint Photographic Experts Group).
Acronyms can also be pronounced in the form of a word that doesnâ€™t exclusively use those first initials. Here are a couple, the definitions of which you may not know: â€œRadarâ€ (Radio Detection and Ranging); and â€œGestapo,â€ from WWII (thatâ€™s â€œWorld War IIâ€)â€”this was from the German â€œGeheime Staatspolizeiâ€ (secret state police).
Acronyms can be fun and reduce the wear and tear on thumbs when texting. Hereâ€™s a few you may want to add to your texting vocab if you havenâ€™t already done so: Acorn = â€œA completely Obsessive Really Nutty personâ€; ADIH = â€œAnother Day In Hellâ€ and ADIP = â€œAnother Day In Paradiseâ€; TMI = â€œToo Much Information,â€ as in â€œMan, I really didnâ€™t need to know that;â€ and CRTTLA = â€œCanâ€™t Remember The Three-Letter Acronym.â€ Hereâ€™s an interesting one: AB = â€œAss-Backward.â€ My dad used to call this â€œBass-Ackward.â€ â€œCD9â€ means parents are aroundâ€”good one to know if you have young kids.
Acronyms have been with us for a long time. I have read that they were used in pre-Christian Rome with the likes of SPQR (â€œSenatus Populusque Romanus,â€ whatever that means). Acronymy is found in ancient Greek biblical manuscripts and the Hebrew language as well. Okay â€“ TMI.
And then there is this variation on theme: â€œretronyms.â€ These are terms that distinguish a sub-class from a super-class, where the distinction was previously unnecessary. Try â€œsnail mailâ€ vs. â€œEmailâ€ (which, of course, is the term for â€œElectronic Mailâ€), or â€œwhole milkâ€ vs. â€œtwo-percent milk,â€ or an â€œacoustic guitarâ€ vs. an â€œelectric guitar.â€ Back to the world of technology we have retronyms in the form of â€œimpact printerâ€ vs. â€œlaser printerâ€ and â€œplaintex,â€ which is ordinary, readable text before being encrypted into â€œcyphertext.â€ Cyphertext? Never mind.
If you find this proliferation of acronyms and retronyms undesirable, I might suggest using the following in all your text messages: â€œAFZ,â€ (â€œAcronym-Free Zoneâ€â€”wait, I guess that wonâ€™t work) or, if you wish to become more proactive in getting rid of these things, I might recommend that you look into the following: â€œAAAAAâ€ (American Association Against Acronym Abuse). Oh, and HTH? â€œHope this helps.â€