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PIN number - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle — LiveJournal

Jul. 28th, 2010

06:01 pm - PIN number

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Date:July 28th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
"VIN number" is another one. "VIN" is pretty distinctive, but it's a term people encounter rarely enough that they seem to need the added nudge of "number" to remind them what's being discussed. (This one is actually even more dubious, since these days a VIN contains letters as well as numbers.)

The real root of this is frequently-used acronyms become words in their own right. People no longer think of them as representing a collection of other words, after a while.

I've noticed some acronyms utterly fail to converge, though. For example, in auto repair literature, the dash light that indicates an engine problem (usually labeled "CHECK ENGINE" on US cars) is sometimes referred to as the CEL (for Check Engine Light) and sometimes the MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light.)
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Date:July 29th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)
Yeah, and I'm thinking that not only has this not happened to "PIN", it may never happen thanks to the popularity of "PIN number". And my main point is, I'm not sure this is a bad thing.

CEL? That's what an animator inks & paints on! (Well, not anymore thanks to digital work...)
MIL? That means "military"!
Of course, everybody just calls it the "check engine light". People seem to have an upper tolerance of about five syllables for names of things ("hot water heater", "fire extinguisher", etc.) And of course, "personal identification number" blows way past that limit.
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Date:July 29th, 2010 06:45 am (UTC)
I also hear "VIN code" about as often. (Although admittedly, that's more often than not in the context of using it to check for certain configuration details...)

MIL could also be "Maintenance Indicator Light", I think I've even seen some cars with a CEL /AND/ a MIL. (In those cases, usually the MIL basically just comes on every X miles until you either pay the dealership to reset it, reset it yourself with a scantool, or smash the bulb in with a screwdriver.)
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Date:August 2nd, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
It gets even worse when there are special numbers assigned to diesel-operated vehicles.
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