Mihkel Truup
University of Tartu, Department of Semiotics



Abstract

This paper is motivated by the significant appearance of certain crisis manifestations in the formal and colloquial Estonian language use during the period of global economical crisis, namely abbreviations and acronyms. Quasi- or parodical abbreviations are differentiated from the normative abbreviations on the basis of their alternative interpretation(s), connecting the short forms with humour.

The complications of cognizing economic and societal processes in the context of post-industrial society connect the manifestations of crisis also with economical discussion, fear, anxiety, and, in contrast, social therapy. As such representations tend to be used over-excessively, the risk of reductive causality arises. An alternative (positive) perspective would describe the representations as means of grasping the changed social situation - a certain type of name giving. In all the cases the shortness, perceptibility, memorisability, and ambiguity are to be seen as the characteristics fostering the significant distribution and implementation of such short forms. Ambiguity, above all, seems to have been the cause of their popularity.


Keywords: economic crisis, acronyms, abbreviations, abbreviation parodies, abbreviation riddles, Estonian folk humour, fear manifestations, therapeutic metaphors