A heaping helping of alphabet soup

I had a boss once who hated acronyms and abbreviations so much that he even discouraged us from using FBI.

“Alphabet soup,” he called it.

I get it. It can get pretty jarring to the reader if copy is littered with long stretches of all-caps words. And also, unfamiliar acronyms or abbreviations can sound jargony.

A while back, I was reading a Chicago Reader story that referred to an “LGBTQ-focused service organization.” LGBTQ? I was familiar with LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. But Q?

A Facebook friend suggested the Q was for queer, which seems a little redundant considering queer could conceivably cover gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual. (The reclaiming of a negative word and embracing it is a fascinating bit of semantic change in itself, but a topic for another day.)

But then I stumbled onto this newspaper headline from Roosevelt University’s newspaper, the Torch: College of Education Dean pushes for a GLBTQIA welcome.

GLBTQIA would have given my old boss an AMI (heart attack). Not to mention the capitalizing of “Dean.”

That is a lot of letters. According to the article, the Q is for questioning, which makes more sense to me. I is for intersex, and A is for ally. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with intersex till I looked it up.

Seems like this phrase is getting a little out of control. But I don’t have any better ideas, so carry on.

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