A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Thursday, April 12, 2007

ESL: Acronym Edition

Abbreviations and acronyms, particularly acronyms, are great-- to a point. They allow us to take cumbersome names and make them both more concise and much easier to remember. KFC, ESP, NCAA, AAA, and NATO are all examples of successful acronyms. Some have become so successful they are now words in their own right-- laser, radar and sonar all started out as acronyms. But at some point, acronyms can become meaningless. When they get too long, or contain too many consonants, it becomes alpahbet soup, gibberish, annoying even.

Enter my school's homosexual acceptance group. Six years ago, when I first started at UW-Parkside, their acronym was LBGT-- Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Gay and Transgender. Somewhat unwieldy (no vowels), but not too bad. A year or two ago they added a pair of Q's to the end-- LBGTQQ-- for "Queer" and "Questioning". Oi. But wait! On my way home the other day I noticed a Cancer benefit being sponsored by LBGTQQIS. Great benefit-- horrible acronym! Though you'd score HUGE points in Scrabble-- if you could find two Q's.

Before we go any further, let me reiterate my support for gay rights. I was appalled when Wisconsin wrote discrimination into our Constitution last fall by prohibiting gay marriage, and my sister is gay. I have no issues with homosexuals, and I'm pleased that Parkside's homosexual acceptance group is both active and vocal. But come on.


In case you're curious, the I (finally, a vowel!) is for Intersex, while the final S is for Same-gender-loving. No, I'm not making that up.

At some point, doesn't this kind of parsing becoming counter-productive? Seriously. The NAACP doesn't feel the need to delineate every single "color" of people they include in their association. They aren't the NAAAHLAMNCNASP (National Association of African-American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Multi-racial, Non-Caucasian, Native American, Slavic People), because 1) that would be silly and B) the whole POINT of the NAACP is to bring people together, not emphasize their differences.

And finally, why does the LBGTQQIS make some of these distinctions? Heck, what exactly ARE the distinctions being drawn here? LBGT I get, but how is "Queer" distinct from them? And isn't Queer a perjorative, not as bad as the N-word, but in the same ballpark? Regardless, isn't it an all-encompassing term for homosexuals, regardless of their gender or preferences? Questioning is pretty clear, but what in the world is Intersex? As opposed to Outersex? I seriously have no idea what is meant by the term. Which leaves Same-gender-loving. Clear enough, but I fail to see how this is any different than all of the categories covered by other parts of the acronym. Doesn't L, G, and the first Q pretty well cover Same-gender-loving?

Time to prune the acronym, methinks.


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?