: a charming everyday poetic practice of introducing new words -- each

of which forms its own unique visual icon and sound -- which come to

represent new concepts, organizations or technical procedures;

Best used with care, sparingly, like one might orchestrate musique

concrete sounds into a symphony of sonorous acoustic strings. If we remember

that the evidently intentionally humorous 'wakeup sound' in a vintage acronym

WAC, stands for Women's Army Corps, and that the term 'radar'

was cleverly pieced together from "
radio detecting and ranging", we see, that,

because of this recent history of their usage in English, acronyms frequently

have a military-like or governmental ring to them. Indeed, the military seems

to like acronyms as a convenient way of putting a clean, surgical, scientific-

sounding front cover on the technology of death. To say, for example, that a

country has 20
ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles, each outfitted with

megaton payloads) pointed at enemy territory, with another 12,000 or so

such warheads stockpiled somewhere, is deliberately deceptive use of language.

It is as if the ICBM acronym were designed to be dealt out like chips in a table

game which plays with big numbers and high stakes, while in reality, just one

or two such weapons would be enough to kill 10 or 20 million human beings.

Politicians are fond of using acronyms for similar reasons. Just one or two

encoded first-letter icons per 8 1/2 by 11 page will give any report an aura

of thorough preparation and expertise. That is, to those who for whatever

reason are motivated and knowledgeable enough to have figured out the code.

Who would suspect that the
DOE, or the Department Of Energy, imitating the

same sound we write and make for a female deer, is the governmental agency

responsible for the development and safe care-taking of the above-mentioned

nuclear weaponry? Of course, if you run ICBM through a spelling checker

it will probably tell you to change it to
IBM. Indeed, computer scientists

and programmers, following the military-style interconnected building block

systems approach, have introduced acronyms into the everyday language

in a very big way. Again, a bit of history reveals something of the interesting

relationship. Who would ever guess that
ARPANET or Advanced Research

Projects Agency NETwork (now DARPA), originally intended for the development

of military technology, would become the precursor of the hugely popular

Internet and
WWW. (DARPA financed much of the infrastructure development

for the Internet, including versions of Unix (an important operating system)

TCP/IP (Protocol Suite Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol))?

By now, to make an impression in a hard-wired, hi-tech world, one must learn

to effortlessly crack cryptic acronymspeak or live with the fear of an embarrassing

flame from someone more perspicacious or, as one says nowadays, savvy,

     than you.

(to be read as if in one breath)