Somethings from your school days always stay with you. Like my English Teacher, who didn't like us using numerals in essays; we had to spell out the number, and those who didn't lost marks, with a red circle around the number. She also didn't encourage usage of things like etc, and eg . I still figuratively look over my shoulder when I defy her in blog posts occasionally today.
While abbreviations were not encouraged, acronyms were simply non existent. The only acronyms I remember from those days are LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) , USA, and UK.
I was struck with acronyms when I functioned as a programmer in the very early seventies, when it was not yet pompously called IT err, Information Technology.
There was no element of willfulness a la today, in naming things, and we programed in Autocoder (full name), COBOL,BASIC,FORTRAN, and PL/1, which had full meaningful expansions in English. Coding sheets and papers were the norm, we punched cards, the programs gave polite messages that told us we were dividing by zero, or flying out of range ; we punched cards again, and ran again. Life was in order.
At some point, the mainframes gave way to personal computer systems, and life has never been the same. The speed with which things changed was phenomenal . Dbase happened. At least that made you think of "Database". Then someone went haywire and did a smarter version called Foxpro.
And the random naming started.
Bill Gates randomly decided to call his Operating system (OS) as Windows. For those brought up on a diet of Command Prompts, and Disk Operating Systems (DOS), it took a while understanding. But I wonder why he didn't call it Tabletop, or Doors, or Rooms. Steve Jobs took things further, by simply starting Apple and Macintosh.
The days of acronyms were shoved back, and random willful naming was the norm. I remember using something called LYNX, in those (graphical) browser less days, and it would show the individual counting of bytes as you accessed a page somewhere. Then the World Wide Web and Internet happened, and Hyper Text Markup Language( HTML) was king. Someone even told me about a software for using that, and the software was randomly called "Coffee Cup".
I tried learning that. Then gave up, and learnt to use HTML by the donkey method, typing in each tag , with the assorted opening and closing brackets and stuff. Even today, when blog posts do not do what I expect them to, in a preview, I go into HTML mode and change things in the editor.
Like the Congress Grass which has wildly sprung like a weed, today, there is no restriction on attributing names to softwares and systems. There is LINUX , that reminds me of Linus from Charlie Brown, and something called GNU. There is UBUNTU, which would be a lovely shoutout, if it were not a version of Linux. Some versions were called Red Hat. There are softwares called MAYA, COMBUSTION; some like SWISH MAX , making it sound like a razor blade place; and even something called AUDACITY. There is NERO, which has burning fires on its cover. There is BLENDER, which has nothing to do with cooking. And we don't even mention the thousands of acronyms and abbreviations that form file extensions and networking terms.
As if this was not enough , cell phones happened, someone felt the do-or-die need to call, text, surf and photograph things from a single contraption; what was worse is that the general public fell for it, and so we are now in a period, when we have lots to say, no time for it, and so messaging lingo was born, at the cost of murdering the English language. Applications and softwares called Bluetooth, Android, Icecream Sandwich were touted as absolute needs.
Lately, there is a campaign on Facebook asking for a new operating system for phones to be called Kaju Katli, in honor of the well loved Indian sweet dessert.
In this big onslaught of applications and systems, that endeavour to make people more like machines, we are now bringing up an entire generation that grows up smiling at machines rather than friends and neighbors. I've seen folks attending social functions, clicking away on their phones in a corner oblivious to where they are, deaf to folks who talk to them. LOL-ing, ROTFL-ing, saying YMMV. Now there is even a movie called OMG. (We wont mention all those 5-6 word movies, mentioned as meaningless acronyms).
This seems to be an age for meaningless acronyms. Like GOM. for Group of Ministers that get assigned an inconvenient problem topic to work on, NREGA , and IGNOU, welfare and educational schemes respectively (the latter being and Open University Scheme).
We really shouldn't go anywhere near medicine and its practice. Someone I know who had an angioplasty , had a stent put in his LAD with PEMA (don't ask me what that is), some folks get certified for FUO close to examination time, and you are supposed to breathe a sigh of relief when someone stares at your reports and scribbles NAD, illegibly.
The head spins and the mind boggles.
I yearn for the days of pencil sharpeners, fountain pens, and searching for ink erasers . I yearn for the days when names had meanings associated with who was named. I yearn for the days, when you back slapped someone and guffawed, till tears came out of your eyes, and didn't have to spell out in bad fractured acronymed English , what was happening. I yearn for the days when you had a decent fight and argument, with someone, without having to speak in asterisks.
However. I just might.
On second or even third thoughts, agree to support a campaign for naming the new cell phone Application/ Operating system after something I love.
Not Kaju Katli. Not even Jilebi.
But Varan Bhat. Just think, you could introduce version 1.2 with lemon pickle....:-)