Monday, April 30, 2012

Redundant Acronyms

The second entry in Stuff People Get Wrong. A redundant acronym is basically adding an unnecessary word at the end of an acronym that is covered by the acronym itself. For example:

PIN Number (Personal Identification Number Number)
ATM Machine (Automated Teller Machine Machine)
GPS System (Global Positioning System System)
LCD Display (Liquid Crystal Display Display)
RAS Syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome Syndrome)

This one was brought to my attention a few years ago by my friend Syp. Ever since then I've noticed redundant acronyms all over the place.

Similar to my last entry, redundant acronyms could possibly be the result of language changing over time. Back at my university we had a place called Price Center which people abbreviated "PC"... this once led to confusion when a group member was expecting a physical meeting and I was at home logged into my messenger account from my Personal Computer.

As more and more acronyms are being thrown into the world I could actually see redundant acronyms being useful for adding context. However, until that time comes, I will continue to fight the good fight. I will cringe when I hear people say UPC Code, HIV Virus, and LAN Network. I will write detailed emails teaching people about the French origins of RSVP and how "Please RSVP" is redundant.

I suppose my next goal should be finding a way to point this stuff out without coming off like a pretentious douchebag or Grammar Nazi.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Improper Use of "A Few Bad Apples"

This will be the first of many entries categorized in Stuff People Get Wrong.

"That corrupt cop was just a bad apple."
"Those two misbehaving kids don't represent all youngsters nowadays, they're just a couple of bad apples."

When people use the saying "bad apple" they are usually saying it in defense of a group, claiming that the actions of one (or a few) don't represent the group in its entirety. The irony here is that the saying actually means the opposite.

The full saying is "A bad apple spoils the barrel." What this means is that when one apple is rotten the rottenness spreads to the other apples and proceeds to ruin every apple in the barrel. So what you're actually saying when you claim someone "is a bad apple" is that their behavior will end up spreading to every member in the group.