Britain’s Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has declared war on jargon by banning the use of abbreviations and acronyms in his office. A civilian recruit, the Minister was confused by the army jargon used in his new role after discovering that too many conversations were being conducted in a bewildering blizzard of abbreviations.
Andrew, the MP for the Pudsey constituency in West Yorkshire, was a surprise appointment to the role after his predecessor resigned unexpectedly over Brexit. According to an article in The Times newspaper, with no previous experience of the military, Stuart Andrew soon became frustrated by his colleagues’ ability to speak the unofficial language of “fluent acronym”. A source close to the minister said, “He got fed up with people coming into his office and reeling off a list of letters assuming he knew what they were referring to.”
Soldiers are notoriously fond of abbreviations, many of which have become part of our everyday language like “going AWOL” (absent without leave) and “NOMW” (not on my watch). Having looked into this further, I can report two of my personal favourites – among those that are publishable anyway – are BLOB (big lump on board used to describe an aircraft passenger with no discernible function) and BFO (blinding flash of the obvious). It was a close-run thing though with BCGs (Birth Control Glasses) – large, black plastic framed glasses issued to service members in need of corrective lenses and generally considered exceptionally unattractive – another contender. As was BCD or Big Chicken Dinner – the euphemism for a Bad Conduct Discharge.
In fact, the armed forces are so awash with acronyms and abbreviations that in 2014 the MoD was moved to publish 402 pages of them purely so people could understand each other!
Can your industry compete? If you think so, send us your favourites!