The Washington Post

Abbreves becoming ridic? Mos def.


Peeps are totes using too many abbreves. That is, abbreviations — a word which, abbreviated, describes not just the act of truncating words but also an entire group of abbrevers who have developed their own adorbs language. OMG, obvi, for reals: It is becoming ridic.

You’re most likely to see abbreves in memes, texts, Twitter and spoken by teenagers or college students – or, dripping with irony, by someone who wants to mock one. It’s how “obvious” becomes “obvi,” “ridiculous” becomes “ridic” and “adorable” becomes “adorbs,” to use some mainstays.

But like a linguistic kudzu, abbreves are spreading throughout the English language, with few words left needlessly unshortened. The latest example of this comes from fashion bloggers, who have taken the perfectly good word “sunglasses” and shortened it to “sunnies.” As in, “The chicest specs and sunnies around,” a headline that recently appeared on fashion blog Refinery29 and is the most recent of 535 instances of its use of the word. Celeb chef Rachael Ray turned the word “sandwich” into the oh-so-twee “sammie,” (which Quiznos adopted for its diminutive pita sandwiches). You’ll note that, syllable-wise, “sammie” isn’t actually any shorter than sandwich, so it’s not saving you any breath. But even for words where an abbreve shaves off a syllable or two, let’s clock it: Each time you say “gorg” instead of “gorgeous,” you’re gaining a fraction of a second — but perhaps losing several others in explaining your truncated words. Some abbreves even make a word more unwieldy — like the popular “amazeballs,” for “amazing,” or “the hubs,” how many on Facebook refer to their husbands.

The Economist’s theory on abbreves is that they’ve become prevalent because they’re simply more fun to say than boring old English. “Cray” or “cray-cray” rolls off the tongue better than the already-pleasing word “crazy,” and “preggers” is cuter than the clinical “pregnant.”

It’s not the shortening of words for brevity that has become so irksome — it will always be more convenient to say “ETA,” rather than “estimated time of arrival.” Rather, it’s the shortening of words for cuteness — an attempt to make every sentence sound as if it was written as a tweet, or for the cast of “New Girl” — that has grown so irritating. Language is constantly evolving, of course, but must it evolve to become so precious — or as the abbrevers would say, presh?

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Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts.


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