TLAs - aka Singapore’s fetish with acronyms
By Murray Bourne, 07 Mar 2006
I was staggered in my first months in Singapore. Almost everything becomes an acronym.
On the first day in my job here, I had to try to figure what everyone was talking about, as the following flowed easily:
- PIE (Pan Island Expressway)
- ECE (Electronics and Computer Engineering)
- AET (Academic Excellence Team)
- HDB (Housing Development Board)
- ERP (Electronic Road Pricing)
- MRT (Mass Rapid transit)
- PAP (People's Action Party)
And there were many more.
You will notice that all the examples above share an important characteristic. They are all TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)...
These days, I try to convince writers to avoid acronyms. They are a severe impediment to understanding.
Today was a classic case. The acronym "DIQ" was in an email to me on discipline issues. I asked a few people what "DIQ" was and no-one seemed to know. I asked the author of the email and she replied "Discipline Inquiry". Go figure.
Footnote 1: Wak - I used 2 TLAs in the heading for this post. It's getting to me...
Footnote 2: My favourite Singapore acronym is "BGR". This is a particularly relevant problem for angst-ridden teenagers. It stands for "boy girl relations".
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