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September 20th, 2012, 04:36 PM #1
A quick question to American forumites about venereal disease.
Ahem. The web doesn't seem to rate any searches for the acronym 'VD' very highly, which tells me that a US audience might not be used to them (preferring 'STI' or 'STD') in this context. As a USA citizen, if you read the initials 'VD' would you think straight away of venereal disease, or something else (or nothing at all)?
Thank you for your time - your answers will sway the course of a story.
September 20th, 2012, 05:14 PM #2
VD doesn't mean anything to me. STD is what we use around here in Canada. I guess it's not US but pretty close.
September 20th, 2012, 05:39 PM #3
I think that VD is an older term. It makes me think of WWIIor maybe the old TV show Mash. STD or STI is a more current term.
September 20th, 2012, 05:53 PM #4
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September 20th, 2012, 07:49 PM #5
Venereal disease is still used as a term and the branch of medicine for it still uses the Latin term, but STD for sexually transmitted disease and STI for sexually transmitted infections became the regular clinical terms and so that's what gets usually used today. The switch occurred around the 1990's. If you use VD, some folks will still know what it is, but a lot of younger ones, as noted, won't.
September 21st, 2012, 03:14 AM #6
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You can assume your readers will understand an abbreviation only if it's very widely used, such as US or USA or FBI or CIA. And even then only in the country or culture where it's widely used. Brits recognize MI5 and MI6 as their equivalents of the FBI and CIA. Few non-Brits will.
The first time you use an abbreviation spell it out. Or use a phrase that makes the meaning clear. Then you can use the abbreviation.
The exception is within dialogue. Use what your characters would use. But make sure outside the dialogue you make the meaning clear.
September 21st, 2012, 08:39 AM #7
The term "VD" was popular around the sixty's. This brings up an interesting line of thought, though. I've found that using the vernacular of the period I'm writing in is a dicey proposition. Most of the time, the reader wouldn't apply the correct meaning to a word no longer in use (I was reaching back into the late 1930's in my case). It ends up causing a "bump" in the reading - disturbing that movie you want playing in the reader's head.
So I decided to approach using archaic expressions much like I would foreign or made-up words. I will introduce such things early on in the story to set the mood, but in all cases couch the phrase in such a way that the reader can easily see the meaning. If such is impossible, then I won't use the word. After a while, I use less and less of the period phrases - just enough to remind the reader but no more. More often then not the reader "gets it" regarding time period and you can relapse into regular speech - providing you don't toss out a catch-phrase or word that clearly plants you in the current time period.
So, if your setting is back in around the sixties or so, then yeah, probably want to use "VD" couched in sentence that clearly states this as an STD. (and don't use "STD" since that is a modern phrase). Otherwise, stick with the period you're writing in.