It’s not much of a practice these days, but I recently saw a contemporary commercial for a clothier, “Joseph A. Bank,” who abbreviates the name Joseph as “Jos.” It’s fucking ridiculous to abbreviate your name unless you have a really long name with multiple syllables. The Thai tend to have really long surnames, certainly worthy of abbreviation. But even they suck it up and just type the motherfucker out. Maybe it made more sense when you paid by the letter sending telegraphs?
“Joseph” doesn’t warrant an abbreviation to “Jos.” because by the time we’re finished, you’ve only saved two characters. Sure, that’s 33.33%, but overall that’s not a big savings because I still have to type almost 67% of your name. If you called yourself Joe we’d be in a better place because we would have saved one extra character over “Jos.” and I wouldn’t have to look at the name “Jos.” and wonder what the fuck it was short for. “Joss?” “Joshua?” “Josephus?” You’re wasting my time!
Using “Thos.” instead of “Thomas” is another one that puzzles the shit out of me. What did we save? We got rid of the “mas” but then we added an S and a period. So we only saved 2 characters again. That’s 33.33.% again. Wow. And we’re again at a disadvantage because if you’re like me, you look at the word “Thos.” and wonder how the hell you’re supposed to pronounce it. Do you say Thomas? Do you say Toss? Thoss? And I bet the rules varied from dude to dude.
“Geo” as a substitute for “George” is a savings of 50%, but by the time you get through the mental process of figuring out what the guy’s name is short for, you might as well have said his full name a hundred times. Maybe it’s short for Geography. Or Geology. You don’t know and he doesn’t care to tell you. Anyway, it’s a GAIN of 1 syllable going from “George” to “Geo.” Works okay in print, but not in the articulation.
I’ve done pretty well with my name. I went from Russell to Russ, reducing my letter usage almost 43% and reducing the syllables by 50%. And I took care not to use extraneous punctuation or other bullshit you don’t need. I’d be fine to reduce it to Rus, but I think that’s pretentious and I don’t need that extra attention.
Like I said, nobody really does the name abbreviation anymore, but I’m always mystified by those who did, and I hope they lived a confusing life with plenty of people out there to question and berate them. FAIL!
[c] 2009 Russ of America
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