The indiscriminate use of initialese and tired clichés tarnish otherwise good publications
As well written as these stories are, some of them are disfigured by the inexplicable and indiscriminate use of acronyms, abbreviations and initialese. Here’s a list from half a dozen stories in the September/October 2007 issue: RST-V, RPG, BAE, LROD, PTI, GHG, CAFÉ, ZAP, ZAP-X, APX, ULSD, TDI, DOHC, BMW, XJ, SL, SLC, Al (sic), Cu (sic), UL, NEMA, IEEE, NEC, ASTM, IACS, CPSC, IEC, AD/CVD, IEC, AEC (no, not the Atomic Energy Commission!), LBNL, DOE, LEED, DNA, NHSTA, IAI, OEM, SUV. Thirty-eight sets of initials in just 25 pages of articles. And this list doesn’t include all of the initialese.
Why on earth is it necessary to refer to the element aluminum by its periodic table abbreviation “Al” 60 times in the space of four pages? “You know me—Al.” “No, I don’t, and I don’t want to know you.” Al’s pal (and rival), the enigmatic Cu, appears 27 times in the article before his given Christian name, “copper,” mysteriously reappears three times in the last paragraph of the article. Hu R Yu, Cu? R Yu a copper?