We have become a society of abbreviators. Our words are abbreviated. Our actions are abbreviated. I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase,”as a crow flies.” That means a shortcut or diagnonally in some crow talking circles. And that’s what we have all become. We are crows. Well, that’s not all that bad. Sure, maybe crows enjoy pecking dead things on the side of the road. I know some people who are peckers. (She laughed writing that) But, all in all, crows are intelligent birds, and if they have found a shortcut home, more power to the them. God bless us, for being stupid. Crows don’t follow a road, Goofball Head. They don’t think in those terms. We do.
“Well, if I was a crow, I guess I would live diagonally about, um, 6 blocks over. Yeah, so I live 6 blocks from here……..as a crow flies.”
I was a smart ass when I was in college and replied to someone who said that with a “How close for a blue jay?” He just looked at me like I was stupid. I’m not stupid….. I’m a crow.
But, we have become a nation of shortcutters. But, it didn’t start with our generation. People abbreviated long before we knew what the hell “LOL” meant.
It all started with contractions. They are similar to an abbreviation, but not really. “Hey, Bob, You know, I’m getting tired of talking and writing. I think I am going to shorten my words. Do ya see how I already did it? I shortened ” I am” to “I’m.” It’s amazing how he took a very long word and shortened it. And that’s how it started. A very lazy man came up with a way for all of us to be lazy. We have a whole list of ass-long words that we have shortened into contractions:
it’s - it is
don’t - do not
you’re – you are
isn’t - is not
Who would not want to shorten their words? Who wouldn’t want to shorten their words? See how easy that was? I will get done with this post so much faster now.
Since I am a school teacher, I have noticed that buses are now shorter. Well, some of them are. There are short buses because, well, they are special. I will leave it at that.
Yes ,we have become oh so lazy. We can blame our great grandparents…………..and poets. Poets used “Tis” a lot. Like that wild party girl, Emily Jane Bronte:
‘Tis moonlight, summer moonlight, All soft and still and fair; The solemn hour of midnight Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere…”
And Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (Which is like a crow, but maybe even smarter.)
’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door; Only this, and nothing more.”
Tis means “it is”. Wait…. So does it’s. No wonder foreign people who want to learn English hate us. We have a screwed up language.
And we all know the famous, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Abbreviated.
Let’s take a look at some abbreviations that people used long ago and then some that we use now. Back then, people didn’t have the luxury to burst into laughter on paper like we can now. LOL
P.S.- This means post script, which I didn’t know for longest time. The term comes from the Latin post scriptum, meaning “written after.” When I was in elementary school and we first used P.S., I thought it meant like “Pssssssst, hey listen to this, there’s more.” My teacher never told us what it meant. It’s her fault that I got laughed at when I was in high school when I raised my hand to answer, “What does P.S. mean?” with a “Pssssssst.” I think I was called a space cadet….. No, I was a crow.
RSVP- Hey, we need to hear back from you. Respond soon very please. Or something like that. That’s what I said it was. Again, not my fault. Sucky teacher. RSVP comes from the French phrase, répondez s’il vous plaît. I know French very well and translated, it really means,” respond with your plate.”
TNT- Pulled this one out of my hat, didn’t I? Well, I thought of TNT only because I grew up with it. Wile E. Coyote lived at my house and was always trying to kill the Road Runner. He had a bunch of Acme products to use on the little speedy bird. “TNT” was written on the box.
I had no idea what TNT really meant. It was dynamite, but not really. You light the string and things blow up. TNT actually stands for trinitroluene. Nobody cares about that.
lb- pounds. This abbreviation just pissed me off. It makes no sense whatsoever. It should be pd. Everyone knows that. I remember getting this marked wrong when we had a measurement test in fourth grade. I remember it because stupid Miss Emler wrote on the board, “John weighs 200 lbs.” She wanted to show how pounds is abbreviated in a sentence. Well, I missed that part because I was thinking about this imaginary John fellow, and was hoping he was not in fourth grade somewhere. Totally missed the point and missed it on the test. Fat John kept me from having a perfect paper, dammit.
Boo- Right now I am teaching my fourth graders about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. We read about how people gathered in the streets of Boston, yelling, “No taxation without representation.” The British to tend to make a few words into pages of long words, and it spilled over to their descendants. So, I had my class chant that phrase three times. You could not tell what the hell they were saying. It sounded like mumbled gibberish and they knew it. That’s when my lies kicked in and I told them how that phrase evolved over years to be. “Boooo” when we aren’t happy with something. Makes sense. We Americans shortened, “We are mad as hell, and we don’t like this one iota” to “Boooo!” Means the same damn thing, only shortened. Boo is an expression of disgust, dissatisfaction, or disapproval.
XL- Sigh. Extra Large. You know, this sucks. Why doesn’t it just say on the label, ”Bigger than Large.” It would make us previous size 0′s feel better about gaining 5 pounds every freaking year to the point where you have to wear an XL and draw pictures of pigs to put on your refrigerator in an effort to keep you from eating. One last sigh.
tv- Easy one. Short for television. I don’t think anyone ever says television anymore. “I think I will watch television right now.” Nope. Doesn’t work anymore. “We are heading to Walmart to buy a new television set.” (Thought I would try it one more time. Still doesn’t work.)
IQ- “He has the IQ of a worm.” “He has an intelligence quotient of a worm.” Well, I did feel smarter writing the second one. The only time I use the word quotient is when I am teaching division and I don’t use it that much becauss they have a hard enough time dividing.
St.- I don’t know about this one. Why would anyone abbreviate a saint? It’s like taking away their sainthood. Right,
Saint Christopher? Saint Christopher was the patron saint of many many things, such as athletes, mariners, and travelers. He was against lightning, pestilence, bookbinders, epilepsy, floods, and um, fruit dealers. I’m really not making this stuff up. I wonder if a fruit dealer didn’t give him the correct change or his watermelon had too many seeds. You just can’t trust fruit dealers.
I.O.U.- No brainer. I owe you some money.
Yes, we are a society of abbreviators. And we are also shorter than usual. Our height is indeed, abbreviated. Studies show that we are getting shorter than our hunter-gatherer ancestors. So, everything is shorter. Except for maybe skirts. They were at their shortest in 1974. I know, because I wore one of them. You could not bend over.
So, go ahead and head home as a crow flies. RSVP to a friend’s wedding. Wear high heels to make you taller. Sit in front of the tv and watch your favorite show. Write a poem that starts with Tis. Call a married woman, Ms. or an unmarried woman Mrs. and see if they correct you. You can get short changed at the fruit dealer like our friend, St. Christopher. Abbreviations are all around us.