Given there’s a limited number of short combinations of letters, and a much greater number of complex ideas that people want to express succinctly, there’s bound to be overlap in acronyms.

Confusion about acronyms is less common than I would expect.  Partly this is because certain acronyms practially become words unto themselves — such as LASER, SCUBA, and even USSR or USA.  of context.  Context also helps avoid confusion: the surrounding information helps to distinguish between PC as ‘personal computer’ or as ‘politically correct.’

I also realized there’s a temporal element to avoiding confusion.  As recently as a few years ago, if someone referenced a video game as AC, one could assume they meant Asheron’s Call.  Now, they’ll almost certainly be talking about Assassin’s Creed.

I assume some linguist, somewhere, has studied the lifetime of a meaning for an acronym.


2 Responses to “Acronyms”

  1. Nate Says:

    file under: namespace pollution

    also, PC -> player character

  2. wedge Says:

    an amusing one that’s been kicking around on our WoW guild forums: Emo. A lot of our guildmates (including Robin) work with high tech machinery that have EMO buttons – emergency machine off. Somehow fitting, I imagine one might be /emo when smacking one of those buttons down.

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