Saturday, August 9, 2014

CAUTION: May have fishy smell!

Turns out, our family are not the only people that make up languages. What about acronyms? The English Language is full of them. The popularity of social media created a whole new meaning for the word acronym. Everybody that uses facebook or the twitter uses and understands them, lol. We use them in our everyday speech more than we realize. Here's a few for examples:
  • We eat them - BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato), PBJ (Peanut Butter & Jelly)
  • We tell time with them - PM (post meridian), BC (Before Christ) EST (Eastern Standard Time)
  • We swing by them and need an acronym to use - ATM (Automated Teller) PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • We drink them - OJ (Orange Juice), BYOB (Bring you own bottle)
  • We even talk dirty with them - SOB, SOL
Acronyms are a standard in our language usually consisting of three letters. They are easy to use. They are simple to understand.  I expect folks know the meaning of acronyms of their era. I ask my kids the meaning of some social media acronyms. They know the younger ones while I know the older ones. Sometimes, acronyms become more familiar to us than the actual name of something. Heard anyone say something like this lately? "Yeah. I'll be there around 5 post meridian. I've got to run by the Automated Teller. I can't remember my Personal Identification Number." I didn't think so! Humans tend to embrace lazy and our languages are no exception.

I love to learn. You might enjoy reading The Top 10 Things I learned in London or 5 Things the New Grandmom Learned. I heard a word during a sightseeing tour in London. I had always thought it was a word but our guide says it's an acronym. See if you can guess the word/acronym before we embark on a bit of a vocabulary lesson:
  • definition of mystery acronym - a level quayside area to which a ship may be moored to load and unload. noun
  • every waterfront city has one
  • a lot of restaurants are named this acronym
  • these are commonly converted to housing or apartments
  • picture clue 
san francisco wharf
photo credit: Pedro Szekely
The guide told us the word WHARF is an acronym for Warehouse at River Front. According to Merriam-Webster, "wharf" is a middle English word used before the 12th century. I have to admit I was amazed at my lack of knowledge surrounding the word. The acronym was so believable, not only was his story convincing but the acronym made so much sense. Internet sources say the acronym for wharf is untrue. I say "It's an English word. Been around for a long time. If a Londoner wants to spice up his tour by making up acronyms for his country's language, I'll eat it up all day long and repeat his story to entertain others!" Warning: proceed with caution to your nearest warehouse at riverfront....may have fishy smell for a couple of reasons.

Ever heard this big fish story too? Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Happily gullible,
The Happy Handicap

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