Frequently Asked Questions (and Other TLA or FLA)

Charles D. Schultz

President at Beyta Gear Service
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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The advent of texting naturally leads to a desire for reduced typing. I like websites that have a “Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab as it shows an interest in making newcomers welcome. The gear industry, like many others, has built up its own “lingo” that can baffle neophytes. I understand the Federal government has a manual devoted to the development of three letter acronyms (TLA) and four letter acronyms (FLA) to speed communication.

Even the TLA for four letter acronym points out the problem of confusing some people while trying to help others. I am sure the Florida tourism folks thought they had “dibs” on that particular three letter sequence. My wife and I like to think we are savvy travelers, but find ourselves baffled by some of the TLA and FLA on those oval-shaped decals on various rear windows. (And don’t get me started on the stick figure families, either.)

The Federal manual no doubt tries to avoid permitting scandalous language, a task made all the more difficult by our rapidly changing texting scene. Case in point: the Wisconsin Tourism Federation woke up one day after 25 years with a pressing need to rename their organization.

The situation in the gear industry is complicated by the different languages of our participating companies and the different descriptions we use for the same gear features. Somewhere in my files I have the valiant attempt of one group to assemble a “cheat sheet” of gear terms and abbreviations in six languages. It is “incomplete” at six pages.

I know that I am not alone when my eyes glaze over (MEGO) at a jargon- and TLA/FLA-filled paper or specification. As I approach final editing of my own FTM (Fall Technical Meeting) paper on HCR (High Contact Ratio) gears, I will do my best to keep the reader in mind and explain the terms upon first use. The TDEC (Technical Division Executive Committee) will be recruiting peer reviewers for each of the papers, and if you are in a position to help, please do so.

We are open to your comments on any of these blog posts and encourage your questions on all things gear-related. Or as the young whippersnappers say AMA!

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