Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: April 5, 2022, 5:21 a.m. Humanist 35.638 - acronyms that reify

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 638.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

        Date: 2022-04-04 05:10:01+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: acronyms

My particular interest in acronyms at the moment centres on those that
in effect reify what was formerly something which provoked thought or in
some way drew attention. Thus, to go back to my example, 'artificial
intelligence' (the subject) --> 'AI' (the thing). In the opening few
seconds of Spielberg's "Artificial Intelligence", for example, the
change is visualised by the two words entering the screen from opposite
sides, crossing into each other and becoming "A.I." -- or is it "AI"?
Whatever the intent -- "artificial intelligence" is, after all, a
mouthfull, and so begging for abbreviation -- but the effect remains, 
does it not? 

Is this act of forgetting any different from what happens all the 
time when we become habituated to words, objects, people?


Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

Unsubscribe at:
List posts to:
List info and archives at at:
Listmember interface at:
Subscribe at: