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DWA (down with abbreviations!)
  1. Charles Warlow
  1. Correspondence to Charles Warlow, Emeritus Professor of Medical Neurology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; charles.warlow{at}

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R u ok? c u soon. Even an older person like me can understand this text message because it is phonetic, and in English. On the other hand, abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of two or more words, even acronyms which are pronounceable words formed from these letters like AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), can be highly irritating because they are not necessarily immediately understood. Biochemists have a reasonable excuse with their molecules, the names of which one can hardly get ones teeth round once, let alone several times in conversation—like nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). But educationalists have no excuse. They seem to be completely addicted to their obscure abbreviations, certainly conforming to George Bernard Shaw’s notion expressed in “The Doctor’s Dilemma” that all professions are conspiracies against the laity. For example, have I any idea what the QABME programme is at my medical school? or PPD? or ToI? Or Y4OE? Not a clue. But at least one is told on the same webpage page (quality assurance of basic medical education, personal professional development, transfer of information, year 4 overview essay). But despite searching, I am left none the wiser with OPAL, FTPD, PVT, LEP, CSPPD and ICP—the last is presumably not intracranial pressure, or even an …

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