TTAC’s post by J. Emerson on how so-called Millennials’ automotive tastes have been shaped by their coming of automotive age in an era when their parents embraced body on frame sport utility vehicles brought forth a lot of thoughtful comment. One comment that caught my eye, though, had little to do with the topic of the post but rather was a complaint about the use of the acronym BOF. To most of us that means “body on frame” but to manga or Korean sitcom fans it might mean Boys Over Flowers and when you’re using abbreviations you have to be sure your audience recognizes them. In an earlier life I did IT support and we would make a recursive joke about the proliferation of TLA’s, three letter acronyms. Such acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon serve a useful purpose to those in the know, but can also function as a mark of group identification, a shibboleth, if you will. Sometimes the use of jargon can function as a barrier to others, which can be contrary to how inclusive we want TTAC to be.
As a writer I have to realize that not everyone knows all the lingo of being a car enthusiast or industry watcher but at the same time I don’t want to condescend and assume that our readers don’t know about what we’re talking. Partly it’s a matter of following a style manual but it’s also an issue of respecting the readers. When discussion suspensions at a car site is it really necessary to say “independent rear suspension” the first time in a post before switching to IRS? When I’m reading about possible government targeting of tax-exempt groups for political purposes does a site have to write out “Internal Revenue Service” for me to know that in that context IRS has nothing to do with the Porsche 928’s Weissach axle?
Offhand I can think of a few automotive TLAs besides BOF and IRS. There’s the CAN bus I recently discussed, and SLA, short long arm, another suspension term. Getting back to the post that spurred this one, there’s SUV and CUV.
Sometimes, instead of exporting fully assembled cars or setting up full overseas assembly operations with a body shop and local suppliers, a lot of automakers will ship CKD, completely knocked down, kits that are then put together in their foreign markets with local labor (though some sources say that the abbreviation stands for “cars knocked down”).
While researching this post I discovered another related TLA, those fully assembled exported cars are referred to as CBUs, completely built units.
What other automotive acronyms can you think of? Which do you think most car enthusiasts should recognize without explanation? Which do you particularly like to use? Which do you find annoying?
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS