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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 8. August 3, 1959



There must be many persons who have started to read a book on, say, international affairs, but whose initial enthusiasm has soon disappeared when they have become bogged down and confused by a mass of abreviations, especially initials and composite words.

If we open our daily papers we see such conglomerations as BUP, ARP, GATT, PM, TAB, PAP, NEC, NAC and PAYE. Then there are the ALP, DLP, ICI, TUC, AASCM, M-O, RSA, ANZUS and UNO. If we read a student paper we meet such creatures as COSEC, GMPR, NUASU, NUSAS, UGMA, to say nothing of AGM, SCM, CSG, and WUS.

This results in lack of clarity and irritation when it concerns organisations—often the abbreviations are not even explained at the beginning of the account—and "depersonalisation" when it is applied to human beings.

No doubt it originated in a desire to save space (and time) but the actual space saved cannot really amount to very much—perhaps two pages in the average book and a quarter or a third of a column in the average newspaper.

One result is that many persons do not know what certain well-known abbreviations mean. They know their denotation but not their connotation. It is doubtful whether six out of 10 Wellingtonians could say what the letters D.I.C., A.D. T & G and a.m. stand for.

It may be fanciful but I also seem to detect a note of arrogance and perhaps even of snobbery in the way certain organisations try to impose their initials on people's minds.

Thus British Petroleum nearly always call themselves BP ("everyone knows us") and the makers of a certain cigarette have recently reduced the name of their product to initials and even tell prospective buyers how to pronounce them ("say dee-ar"), as if they were morons!

Some abbreviations have doubtless come to stay, but we should make an effort to reduce their number and not to increase them.