Olympic linguistic games

Olympic RingsThe organisers of the 2012 Olympic Games are making a big effort to ensure that the whole of the United Kingdom feels included in the event. There was a great fuss on the BBC news yesterday (18 May) about the arrival and planned relay — covering the length and breadth of the UK, with a dip down to Dublin too — of the Olympic flame.

But if that effort is to be successful, they need to watch their language. Again on the BBC news, David Beckham expressed his delight that the Games were not just about England but also about east London, where he grew up. Erm, England, David?

And the news presenter made numerous — and very annoying, to anyone who hates inappropriate use of acronyms and initialisms — mentions of LOCOG. If you want an event to be inclusive, then the language you use needs to be inclusive too. Acronyms and initialisms are not inclusive. LOCOG stands for the “London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”, which admittedly is a bit of a mouthful. So why not just use “organising committee”? We’d all get the message. With LOCOG, we don’t.

Glad I’ve got that off my chest.

Photo courtesy of Rareclass

By Marian Dougan

6 Responses

  1. Dear Marian, great insights, and I definitely share your point of view. I have attended a training for Language Services of the Olympics, and I was irritated by all these unnecessary acronyms and initials. A couple more of them for you:
    Any guesses?

  2. My acronym dictionary suggests

    VAPP Visual and Auditory Presentation Package (computer based psychological experiments)
    VAPP Volunteers for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention
    VAPP Virginia Alliance for Potbellied Pigs
    VAPP Ventilator Associated Pneumonia Prevention
    VAPP Vaccine-associated Paralytic Poliomyelitis (neurological damage)
    VAPP Vector and Parallel Processing (conference)

    and I can imagine the Olympics people needing some of these suggestions, but strongly suspect they meant something else entirely

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