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Life, the Universe, Everything

Fun with accronyms and other oddities

The new semester has started, and I’m already neck-deep in scientific literature. Before classes even started I had 8 papers to read (it takes me between 30min and 2 hours to get through one), and now that I’ve had 2 classes I have several more. I’m also sick (for like the 4th time this winter), and in my fever-induced delerium I found myself fixating on a few oddities in biological writing. One is an incredibly high reliance on compund accronyms. Here’s an example from the paper I’m currently reading:

IL-1 = Interleukin 1.TIR = Toll/IL-1 Receptor.TIRAP = TIR-domain-containing Adaptor Protein. TRIF = TIRAP inducing Interferon-beta. TRAM = TRIF Related Adaptor Molecule

So in other words, “TRIF” stands for “Toll/Interleukin-1 receptor domain containing adaptor protein inducing interferon-beta related adaptor molecule.” Impressive eh?

Another strange bit of biological-science related language (BSRL) is the use of impressive-sounding words that have rather simple synonyms. The 2 examples that come readily to mind are “Stochastic” (random), which as a euphimism for “something we have absolutely no explanation for,” and “abrogate” (stop).

Edit: I thought of a couple others: Paucity (lack of) and Ellucidate (figure out). As in, “it is impossible to ellucidate the reasons behind the seemingly stochastic use of vocabulary among biologists and there seems to be a paucity of methods to abrogate this behavior.”


30 January, 2009 Posted by | Personal, Science | , , | Leave a comment