Acronym Mania

I wholeheartedly agree with Sarah Arnquist here:

Littering a paper with acronyms serves only to turn it into alphabet soup and guarantee readers will remember nothing substantive and only how hard that was to read. A development agency report I read recently used 23 acronyms in ONE paragraph! I know you’ve heard this before but it’s worth repeating. My editors used to make me delete an acronym at least once a week. Do you have an editor monitoring your acronym littering?

I find this at its most egregious in military circles. This may derive from the fact that in the relatively recent past minimizing the number of characters in a communication was, in fact, an important element of telegraph-era warfare. But I see that otherwise very competent writers tend to not only accept, but embrace and positively revel in the military’s acronym-happy culture. This helps marks them as “insiders” to America’s most socially validated institution. But it’s difficult to believe that all this stuff, whether in defense or development or any other field, really does much to improve communications or is even intended to do so.