broadsideblog

The Alphabet Soup Life

In culture, domestic life, Medicine on January 19, 2012 at 4:46 am
English: Alphabet pasta Deutsch: Buchstabensuppe

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When I lived in France in my 20s, I arrived speaking the language pretty well. The toughest part of reading the newspaper was learning all the acronyms that were familiar to natives: FNAC (a book and music store), SNCF (the railways), FO (a union) and IVG (abortion), among many others.

These days, it feels like my life is an alphabet soup of acronyms. They include:

REIT and ETF, two forms of investment I recently added to my portfolio. In Canada, I bank with TD, the shortened form of Toronto Dominion.

I rely every year on the STAR, a tax refund that helps to lower my property taxes.

I often travel by MTA, the official name of the New York subway, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

While working on various high-level projects, I’ve had to sign an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement.

IV, MRI, AVN and NSAIDs. The first I’ll need for my surgery, the second diagnosed the problem, the third is the problem (dead bone in my hip) and the latter are painkillers.

NYT, ASJA and WEAF are key in our household. The first, The New York Times, is my husband’s full-time employer and one of my regular freelance outlets. The ASJA is a 1,400-member writers’ group, on whose board I’ve served for six years. I sit on the board of WEAF, which is an amazing source of aid for writers who find themselves in terrible financial straits. We can give a grant of up to $4,000 within days.

DH and DL. When I’m healthy and strong, I’ve been chosen by my softball team — a mix of men and women ages 20s to 70s — as the DH, or designated hitter, a position of some honor. It means they know I can smack that sucker far enough to get a man (or woman) on base. But thanks to my damned hip, the one that has sidelined me for two seasons, I’m on the DL, the disabled list.

The FT. We love the weekend Financial Times, and look forward to it every week. This British daily is unapologetically elitist, but still stylish, witty and fun.

CBS, a national television network. I’m praying hard they greenlight the pilot for “Malled”, a sitcom based on my retail memoir that came out last year. It won’t make me rich, but would add a chunk to my savings and be a lot of fun.

Given how international Broadside’s 588 readers are — scattered worldwide — tell us some of your local acronyms.

Which might confuse us if we visited your country?

  1. Most visitors are confused by “ta” when they first come to Australia. I know I was. It’s the short, sweet way of saying “thanks” here, as opposed to “goodbye”. And then there’s the shorten-and-add-an-o-to-the-end quirk that i still continue to be amused by, more than a decade down the track. Off the top of my head:

    servo – gas station
    garbo – garbage collector
    bottle-o – liquor store
    smoko – smoke break
    arvo – afternoon
    muso – musician

    Applied where suitably lyrical to places as well:

    Rocko – Rockingham
    Freo – Fremantle
    Rotto – Rottnest Island

    The first time someone ever said “pop into the servo and get us a jerry” I was all “pop into the where and get who?” (translated: go to the gas station and get a container of petrol)

    The chinese have a saying “one chicken, one ducking, talking” and that was certainly the case!

    • OMG this is delish!

      Here in the States people now call a conversation a “convo” (?). An arvo in Rotto sounds distinctly awful but is likely highly enjoyable! Thanks for sharing these.

      • Rottnest Island is a playground for the well heeled, tourists and school leavers (they have their end-school parties there) – it can be a pretty awful experience i guess, although it’s a beautiful island ;)

        There is a desert here called The Simpson Desert, which is among other things, a haven for 4 wheel drivers. In one issue of a related magazine, one of the writers shortened it to the “Simmo” (which incidentally, is a popular nickname for anyone called Simon here), and it caused an uproar in the editorial forum. You can’t, apparently do that to certain places.

        This was my first hint that there are rules governing this make-short-and-add-o thing, although the rules are still unclear. You’d never know it normally though!

      • I’ve heard of Rottsnest.

        You never know when it’s taboo to break a rule until it’s too late. :-)

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