Those crazy Americans




 

 

I often find myself fascinated by things that others probably could care less about. Maybe it’s the mark of the creative personality, I don’t know. One of those things is the origin of things, mostly word origins; and how streets and other things get their names. The study of the origin of words is known as Etymology, not to be confused with Entomology, which is the study of insects.

Another thing I have noticed more and more lately is the American obsession with abbreviating everything. It’s become a facet of life which is so normal it’s not even noticed and these words infiltrate our everyday life.

For example, gas, auto and carbs, which are the short form of gasoline, automobile and carbohydrates. These crazy young people we have today have taken it to a, well I hesitate to say “art form” but will stick with that for lack of something better.

Combo is an abbreviation of combination which reminds me of another I recently ran across. Granted, this one was on social media but apparently inspo is short for inspiration. Young folks like to say “I’m a” which means ‘I am going to’ get that sexy persons ‘digits’ which means phone number.

The kids also like to say addy for address, aggro for aggressive, cray for crazy, popo for police, totes for totally, and adorbs for adorable. There is also diff for difference, whatev for whatever, ushe (pronounced uge like luge) for usual.

Certain professions of course have their own shorthand lingo (from the Latin word for tongue), like police officers who have given us their own words perp for perpetrator and BOLO for “be on the look out.” We abbreviate the president and the first lady of the United States, as PLOTS and FLOTUS as well as many cabinet posts. For instance, the secretary of the Navy becomes SECNAV. Other common ones which slip into everyday usage are celeb, info, pics, cuz (because), and comfy.

I have my own abbreviations for taking notes during interviews and municipal meetings, and Microsoft Word has this handy proofreading auto-correct feature that enables me to force it to automatically change my most used abbreviations into actual words.

For instance, dept becomes department, govt is government, comms is commission, commt is committee, or commty is community. It’s very handy and I’ve used this feature for many years. Of course you have to remember what your abbreviations are, AND spell them right, or Word doesn’t have a clue.

I am sure different countries have other examples of this which wouldn’t translate to the U.S. and vice versa. People who know me might be aware I am an information junkie — a big fan of social media and the internet — and have my own collection of memes, which are pictures with words that convey a sort of visual “sound bite” of an idea.

Just in case you were wondering … the word meme was invented by scientist author Richard Dawkins and is the counterpart to the word gene — which stands for physical heredity, whereas meme’s are meant to represent cultural heredity. And that’s your word lesson in a nutshell for today. pschmidt@mihomepaper.com


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