A take on abbreviations

Do you know what a STEM degree is? No real reason for asking, just wondering if it is an abbreviation that is less common than I think it is.

Maybe some context is needed. A week or two ago, I got into an argument with one of my proofreading peers about how common the abbreviation STEM is because she didn’t know what it was. I mean, it’s found in some textbooks, not to mention various news articles. Just by reading the context, you should probably be able to figure out that it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics without looking it up.

She disagreed with me because she had never heard of that abbreviation before, and surely people who are not in STEM programs have never heard of it either.

But there are plenty of abbreviations that no one seems to question. For example, MMORPG. It’s a well-known game genre that many people play, but not everyone plays video games so how do we know for sure that everyone knows what it means? I bet most people only know it as games that make you go WoW (World of Warcraft) and LoL (League of Legends), and not a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.

Then again, not everyone is accustomed to abbreviations. I still have a hard time recognizing simple abbreviations such as IMO and TBH whenever I’m on forums. So maybe abbreviations aren’t as common as I think they are. Maybe it shouldn’t always be assumed everyone knows what you’re talking about because certain abbreviations are more common for specific target audiences, and not everyone is in the same target audience as you are.

<strong>Ju Hyun Kim</strong>

1B Arts, <em>Imprint</em> proofreader


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