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Mnemonic acronyms for diving

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The PADI (scuba instruction) people should hire a consultant from the medical-training industry to come up with mnemonic acronyms for their lists of “five steps to do such-and-such” or “nine symptoms of so-and-so.” Medical training, from what I've heard of it, has dozens of catchy mnemonic acronyms for that kind of thing; they seem to be a lot better at it than PADI is. Most of the PADI manual doesn't give mnemonics at all, but the two they do give are not so good:

Predive safety check mnemonic: BWRAF = Begin With Review And Friend = BCD, Weight, Releases, Air, Final Check. I'm not convinced that the mnemonic phrase is any more memorable than what it's supposed to remind me of. (I've decided to pronounce “BWRAF” as “Boo-RAF,” which (in my imagination) is the British air force's equivalent of “Booyah!”)

And the other mnemonic, late in the book, in the midst of the section about using a dive computer is: SAFE= Slowly Ascend From Every Dive.

...because I guess if you don't remember to ascend slowly (something they've been mentioning every few pages for the entire book), you're more likely to remember SAFE and what it stands for (“Wait, I know I'm supposed to be SAFE, but what did that stand for? Sordidly Activate Frequency Enhancer? Guess I better rush up to the surface and look it up”), and that will remind you to ascend slowly? Wouldn't it be simpler to just remember to ascend slowly?

I kind of feel like they might as well say SAFE stands for: Safety is important, Always be safe, For goodness' sake, be safe; Exceptions there are none to the rule of always being safe.

Meanwhile, there's no mnemonic at all for the five steps you're supposed to follow before diving. I decided on the mnemonic RORCOD (Ready, Orient, Regulator, COmputer, Descend), which I guess is either Rorschach's fishy cousin or the fish that roared. (Hey, I didn't say I was good at coming up with mnemonic acronyms.)


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LPT, I recently learned, stands for Life Pro Tip: a tip about how to do something in real life (as opposed to on a computer). My understanding is that, as with other pro tips (a.k.a. protips), LPTs are often sarcastic, or refer to obvious things as if they were surprising or difficult.

Two-letter abbreviations with slashes


In English, most of our two-letter abbreviations are written as either two letters by themselves, or two letters with one or two periods.

But there are a few that are written with a slash between the two letters.

If anyone knows why that is, I'd be interested to find out more; TSOR hasn't turned anything up.

But mostly I'm writing this 'cause I think it's an interesting phenomenon, and I wanted to put together a partial list.

care of. This is the one I'm most familiar with and see (and use) most often.
lowercase. As used by editors to suggest making a word lowercase. Also u/c for “uppercase,” though I think I see that more rarely.
not applicable. Almost always written in uppercase, unlike a lot of these. Another very common one.
without. I'm particularly intrigued by the two-letter slash abbreviations for single words. Note that w/ is often used for “with,” so I guess w/o for “without” is a natural extension of that.
because. I see this fairly often, but it's always seemed weird to me. Most two-letter abbreviations are short for a two-word phrase; even “without” could be thought of as “with” and “out.” But why would an abbreviation for “because” include the C? I suppose you could break up the word into “be” and “cause.”
week commencing. I had never seen this before British members of the SH staff used it; I was initially sure it must be a typo, perhaps for w/e, which I think I've occasionally seen as short for “week ending.” I'm guessing w/c must be more common in the UK than in the US.

Wikipedia's discussion includes such abbreviations as r/w (“read/write”) and i/o (“input/output”)—both of which I think I usually see in uppercase—but those seem to me to be in a different category, because the phrase they're abbreviating also contains a slash. In the abbreviations I'm talking about in this entry, it's not clear to me why the slash is there.

Wikipedia also lists b/w; I've certainly seen that meaning “black/white,” which goes in the same category as r/w, but Wikipedia says it's also used for “between,” which I don't think I've seen before. Urbandictionary backs that up (and notes that it's used in text messaging); but then again, the first search result for [b/w between] is a forum discussion in which everyone but the original poster says that b/w for “between” would be confusing.

Which of course is a good reminder that there are presumably zillions of abbreviations that are used in some groups and subcultures without being known to society in general; hard to say where to draw the line. So I don't intend my list to be canonical or complete; just a sampling of some common ones I personally have encountered.

Any other particularly common two-letter abbreviations with slashes?


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I first encountered the acronyms “LGTM” and “SGTM”—“Looks/Sounds Good To Me”—at work. I'm sure that plenty of people elsewhere use them, but I don't see many instances of them on the public web, so I wanted to post about them here to encourage wider use.

They're used in all sorts of contexts, wherever the full phrases might be used. If someone suggests an idea or a plan, and you want to succinctly express agreement and encouragement to proceed with it, you can write SGTM. (Another way to express agreement with an idea or an expressed sentiment is to write “+1,” but I'm less fond of that.) If someone puts together a mockup or a document or a piece of code, and you've looked at it and it meets with your approval, you can write LGTM.

The phrases can imply that you have nothing further to add, or they can be a starting point: “LGTM, but before this goes live, remember to change the placeholder usernames. And you might want to run it by the Trademarks people.”

I don't think people say these terms out loud very often, but if they did, I assume they would be pronounced as the series of letters rather than trying to make it sound like a word. I suppose saying the letters aloud would usually be the same kind of semi-ironic emphasis as people saying “Double-you tee eff!” or “Oh em gee!” aloud.

Outside of work contexts, I often find myself writing “Sounds good,” and sometimes I'm tempted to just write “SGTM” instead. But doing so would require writing up an explanation of the acronym, which would be much more work than just writing “Sounds good,“ so I refrain. But I'm hoping that if these terms come into wider use, I'll be able to use them without explanation.

Complimentary close


Quite a while back, I read a story (perhaps in the New Yorker or some such?) in which one character would write letters to another, and would sign off with this:


The story explained that the initials stood for "So Long, Sweet One; Consider Yourself Kissed."

I found that charming. I tried using it as a signoff in letters to certain people, but they never found it nearly as charming as I did. (Though it did spark a response from someone I'm not sure would want to be named here so I'll leave it anonymous: LYMTACS (pronounced "lime tacks"), for "Love You More Than Acronyms Can Say.")

. . . I must digress from signoffs for a moment to talk about related acronyms. I've heard of envelopes on which people have written SWAK, for "Sealed With a Kiss"; a friend of mine once wrote, on an envelope to me, "Sealed with a lick, 'cause a kiss won't stick," which made me laugh. A quick web search suggests that that's sometimes abbreviated SWALCAKWS.

Anyway. The signoff bit in a letter, just before the signature, is known as the complimentary close. I have always been fond of old-style formal complimentary closes, such as "I am, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant," especially when "obedient" is abbreviated to "obt." I've also seen abbreviations of a whole phrase, such as "yours, etc" or (as noted in Wikipedia) "I am, etc." An abbreviation for that phrase that I haven't seen before, as shown in that Wikipedia article, is "YOS."

There are lots of other common closes, of course. In English, many of them revolve around the words "yours" or "best" or "regards," though words like "sincerely" also figure prominently; also "love."

And in less formal notes to certain people, one might use a phrase like "kisses" or "xo."

Was thinking about this stuff this evening, and noticed that I'd never posted anything about SLSOCYK; in fact, a quick web search suggests that nobody has ever posted anything about that valediction. If any of you happen to know the title or author of the story that used the phrase, let me know.

Regardless (now there's a signoff), I'm now curious about what kinds of complimentary closes other people use. Do y'all use them at all? (I realize they're not common in email, but I do use them in some email contexts.) If so, which ones do you use?

Molon labe


Just happened across the Greek phrase "Μολων λαβε" (not sure how to get the accent marks to appear in HTML), often transliterated "molon labe." Apparently it was King Leonidas's response when the Persians demanded the Spartans' weapons: "Come and take them!"

Wikipedia adds:

It corresponds roughly to the modern equivalent English phrase "over my dead body," "bring it on" or, most closely, "come and get it."

I would not have expected an ancient Greek phrase to appear on a T-shirt at a Tea Party rally, but that's just where I saw this (in a photo). It turns out that American gun-rights advocates have adopted the phrase as a challenge to those they see as trying to take their guns away.

That Wikipedia page has a bunch of other interesting stuff about the use of the phrase at various historical moments.

And on a side note, it introduced me to an acronym I'd never encountered before: RKBA. From context, at first I thought it must stand for "Royal [something] [something] Association," but no: it's "Right to Keep and Bear Arms."


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EDNOS turns out to be an acronym for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Which isn't at all unusual in itself, but I'm kind of amused by the idea that someone can be diagnosed as having EDNOS.

(Eating disorders themselves are obviously no laughing matter. What I'm amused by is the phrasing.)

I was also amused by the Guardian's attempted acronym expansion. I first encountered the term in an article about orthorexia nervosa. (The article reads kind of like a parody, but it appears to be serious.) It says:

Until a few years ago, there were so few sufferers that doctors usually included them under the catch-all label of "Ednos"—eating disorders not otherwise recognised.

At which I thought, wait, shouldn't that be "Ednor"? But then Wikipedia cleared it up; I assume the article's author just got confused.


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Turns out that quango, also spelled qango, is an acronym for "quasi non-governmental organization" or "quasi-autonomous NGO." Looks like the term is fairly common in the UK and elsewhere, but I don't think I had ever heard it before.

Acronyms in a song

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A few weeks back, I heard a country song on the radio in which the singer sang:

I smell T.R.O, you B.L.E.

I puzzled for a while over what T.R.O. and B.L.E. were before I got it.

It may be more obvious in print, but if you don't see it, say it aloud a couple of times. And/or Google [Travis Tritt T.R.O.], which will also reveal the name of the song.


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On a video about an explosion, I heard an announcer use a term that sounded like "blevvies." I got curious and Googled it; turns out it's an acronym. According to Wikipedia:

BLEVE, pronounced [...] "blevvy"[...], is an acronym for "boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion". This is a type of explosion that can occur when a vessel containing a pressurized liquid is ruptured.

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)


Apparently the term "UFO" is out; in its place, "UAP," for "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena," is gaining popularity.

Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune says:

The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (the term that extraterrestrial-watchers nowadays prefer over Unidentified Flying Object) was first seen by a United ramp worker[....]

--"In the sky! A bird? A plane? A ... UFO?", by Jon Hilkevitch

But other sources suggest that the "UAP" term is actually an older term, and TSOR hasn't led me to anything definitive one way or t'other. Any thoughts?


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I always vaguely wondered how "lysergic acid diethylamide" got abbreviated as "LSD." I think I figured (or had been told) that the S came from "lySergic," but that didn't make much sense.

Turns out, according to Wikipedia, the acronym is from the German name: "Lysergsäure-diethylamid," where the S is for "säure."

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