“Why? Oh, Gee!” – a diatribe on the use of acronyms in Singapore

Ron, my boyfriend, booked tickets to watch the closing ceremony of the Youth Olympics.
He went to the counter and mentioned he wanted to collect the tickets he booked for the “Youth Olympics”.
The girl at the counter looked at him, initially in bafflement, then said, “YOG?”
Singaporeans have a habit of turning many things into acronyms. Perhaps we’re not too fond of using many words (“No stock!”) or phrasing our words the right way (like the infamous “If got then got, if don’t got then don’t got”).
But when people use an acronym to the extent that they forget the original meaning of the phrase, it makes you wonder. What makes us so fond of acronyms in the first place?
**Convenience.** Perhaps acronyms pack a certain ‘punch’ while the full term is a drag to pronounce. Acronyms may also give confidence to those who can’t pronounce long or foreign-sounding names, and are simply more convenient to refer to. Thus, Singaporean ladies like to say “LV” instead of Louis Vuitton.
**Ubiquity.** Wherever we go in Singapore, we are surrounded by acronyms. When we drive, we take the PIE, AYE and CTE but avoid the ERP. Our children take the PSLE, while young men aim to pass their IPPT and can’t wait for their ORD.
At work, we aim to meet our KPIs, but some ideas will be KIV. We use acronyms to refer to each others’ departments. To make things more complicated, those in technical fields will have their own sets of specialised terms, which would also be converted to acronyms. WYSIWYG, anyone? 😉
So, in short, acronyms are here to stay. And, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. But spare a thought for the newcomer at work, or the foreigner who’s just arrived in Singapore. Don’t be so focused on doing things ASAP 😉
Finally, whatever you do, never forget what these acronyms actually stand for.