Abbreviations and acronyms continue to mushroom in popularity with each passing day. As an increasingly face-paced world collides with new and ubiquitous technologies, these short cuts will likely become more invasive in our language. Their burgeoning use coincides with the development of many modern means of communication, such as text messaging and social networking, which may eventually prove as the death knell to clear and concise communication.
What does this have to do with the Adirondacks?
Despite the prominence of these short cuts in popular culture, one annoying Adirondack abbreviation predates this social media trend. My first encounter with it goes back as far as the 1990’s, but it most likely was in use well before then. Although it does not appear to be in widespread use yet, I still hear it from time to time, and it never gets less annoying. Finding a more demeaning abbreviation would be a difficult task, especially when applying to such a beautiful place as the Adirondack Park.
I am sure everyone has heard it used at least once. Just in case someone out there lives under a rock, or spends all their time in the Adirondack backcountry, and the term is not clear by now, I will use it, just this one time, and for this time only.
The ‘Dacks. Although equally disturbing is the Daks, or perish the thought, the Dax.
As far as clear and concise communication goes, these abbreviations are anything but clear. One could easily be confused with pants in Australia, and the other is a German stock market.
A cynic may very well attribute this rant to an old curmudgeon, who has spent an excessive amount of time in the backcountry alone (all of which may be entirely true). Fortunately, this old fart is not by any means by his lonesome on this matter. A whole Adirondack forum thread was devoted to this very topic many years ago. In a poll there, around 71% preferred the term Adirondacks, to only 5% for that dreaded abbreviation that I will not name (again). Although the thread started in 2008, it continues with recent entries, the newest being in July of this year!
Why anyone finds it necessary to abbreviate the Adirondacks, I have absolutely no idea. Is saying, writing or typing “Adirondacks” just too difficult or time-consuming? Is it that important to save a second or two, when hours are spent wasting time in front of some monitor, whether it is watching a sitcom on TV, surfing the Internet or playing a video game for the umpteenth time?
Where will this trend end, if such a beautiful name like the Adirondacks shortened to appease the linguistically lazy among us? Will I soon be ‘whacking through the ‘rest avoiding b’downs and the ‘ferous using a map and a ‘pass on my Adirondack adventures? Heaven forbid!
From my experience, locals do not use it. Some in central New York may use it, though it is probably reserved for those who want to feel cool, or appear overly pretentious. Most of my experience with the term comes from people downstate and areas farther south. If you are one of them, then please stop now, as you are offending the rest of us, or at least me.
For those who feel they must use this abbreviation, please use the comments section below to defend your choice. Do you think it makes you cool? Is your time so important that you must save a little time by not using the entire name? Please share your reasoning with the rest of us.
With so many important issues facing the Adirondacks, it would be easy to dismiss the use of annoying abbreviations as nothing short of frivolous. Global climate change’s effects on Adirondack flora and fauna, Lot 8 at the brink of being replaced by a big pit in the ground, and the carving up of the SLMP like a Thanksgiving turkey to accommodate the contrived Essex Chain of Lakes area are just a few of the crucial matters facing the region. How can you expect anyone to make an informed judgment on these or any other regional issues then they cannot even bother to use its actual name?
If you find yourself unconvinced, and believe I am once again making a big deal out of nothing then I have only one thing left to say.
Photo: Paper birch forest on northern slope of Jay Mountain in the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area by Dan Crane.