T.L.A., aka TLA, is supposed to stand for three letter acronym, but it doesn’t.
In order for an abbreviation to qualify as an acronym it must spell a word, T.L.A., like Abcde, doesn’t really spell a word, regardless of those who’ve chosen to spell the name Absidee A-b-c-d-e. (Yes, I’m fully aware that we can spell our names however we choose, please don’t choose to saddle your child with a name spelled A-b-c-d-e.)
To qualify as a true T.L.A. the subject matter must be comprised of three words and the first letter of the three words when placed in a row must spell an actual word. If the abbreviation does not have exactly three letters then condition one, the amount of letters equaling three, has not been met, and if the three letters do not form a word then condition two, the acronym or letters forming a word is the acrimonious portion.
…neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once at the number three, being the third number be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe…
BTW? Not an acronym. IMO? Nope. CPU? Boo-hoo-hoo. WTF? Well, you get the picture.
What is a true T.L.A.? R-I-P. The first letter of the three words Rest In Peace form the word rip, a word that means to tear. S.A.P., which is a true T.L.A., evolved into a word, sap. S.A.P. started life as a 1920’s abbreviation: It was slang for, “sad and pathetic.” Of course, trees make sap, hard work over many hours may sap our strength, but sap started life as S.A.P. Kinda sad and pathetic, don’t you think?
Not all acronyms are three letters. Quick! Name the five Great Lakes of the U.S.A.!
Did you list them as Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eire and Superior? Did you use H.O.M.E.S. to achieve your goal? H.O.M.E.S. is an acronym, but it’s a FLA, which used to mean Florida until the U.S.A. standardized state abbreviations so they all have only two letters. Fla. has been FL since 1963, which leads me to another point, whatever happened to periods?
The U.S.A. masquerades as the USA, or to make us even shorter we’ll write U.S. as US. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a constant battle against an ever changing world I mean, whatever happened to us?
Do abbreviations get periods anymore? That little round point at the end of most sentences? Mister does. Mr. means mister. Mrs.? Sure thing! Misses gets a point at the end. MS? No, but that’s special. (Ever wonder how many Mississippi women prefer MS over miss or misses? You will now.) Periods seem to be hits or misses which leaves me with the question, “Do three letter acronyms get three little periods?” Is T.L.A. proper and TLA improper, or has T.L.A. gone the way of thee, thy and thou and everything’s pointless now?
Language usage is how the bougie now defines propriety which is how peruse came to be its own antonym. Peruse used to mean to look something over carefully but through misuse it came to mean to skim. And while I’m making a point about points, lets talk about that most Irish of punctuation marks, the apostrophe. (Or as I like to write it, the a’postrophe.)
I know how to use apostrophes. They are mostly used to show possession, as in, “Keith’s sense of humor is very odd,” form contractions, i.e., it + is = it’s, or do + not = don’t and every once in a while to write a Gaelic name like O’Shaughnessy or O’Meara, but what happens when we want to change an abbreviation from singular to plural? What’s the convention?
If writing an invitation to a party I might write, “The Kenels request the pleasure of your presence,” never, “The Kenel’s request the pleasure of your presence.” No apostrophe ambiguity when spelling out a word but what about in the case of an abbreviation, whether T.L.A.s, or not? Or is that T.L.A.’s or not? And that is the great debate, to apostrophize a singular abbreviation to make it plural or just add an itty-bitty s on the end of the big tall T.L.A.
So, to misquote Meatloaf’s Paradise By The Dashboard Lights, “What’s it gonna be boy, ‘s or no?”
There is no consensus on the use of an apostrophe with an abbreviation, we’re at a stage where mayhem reigns and the peasants are revolting. Wanna pluralize Social Justice Warrior as SJWs? Or do you prefer S.J.W.s? How about SJW’s? Last call for alcohol is S.J.W.’s. So I’ll ask again? Who’s in and whose call is it?
There are no final answers and even sticks-in-the curmudgeon such as I are unsure which rule flies. I suggest we all try to keep our heads above water and if that fails remember to use our scuba equipment and to be sure that when we’re not reaching for the stars that we’re flying under the radar.