linguist • writer • editor • lecturer • broadcaster
[Thursday 03 January, 2013]
The LA DJ had lost his ID, so he couldn’t MC the ITV debate about NATO radar GHQ.
Or, in full:
The Los Angeles disc jockey had lost his identity card, so he couldn’t be Master of Ceremonies at the Independent Television debate about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation radar General Headquarters.
There are eight abbreviations in this sentence, and they all have one thing in common: they’re all acronyms - words made up out of the initial letters of other words. DJ is an acronym of ‘disc jockey’. Even radar is like this (if you counted only seven, you missed out radar): it’s an acronym of ‘radio detecting and ranging’, but the word is so familiar nowadays that very few people know what the letters stand for. AIDS and laser are other words which are made up out of initial letters (look them up in a dictionary, if you don’t know what they stand for). Acronyms are one of the commonest forms of abbreviation. Keep an eye and an ear open for them in school (are you studying CDT?), or as you walk home (is there a DIY? was that a BMW?), read the newspapers (have you met a VIP or seen a UFO?), or watch television (BBC or ITV? a film about the FBI or CIA?). But beware: have you noticed that TV and HQ are different? Sometimes acronyms cheat, and use letters from inside the the word as well!Cartoon 2
Related notions: abbreviation, word

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