If you can't quite make out what makes up Godzilla in this image, it's the Jay Finley Christ abbreviations for the sixty Sherlock Holmes cases of the original Canon, which spawned my previous blog post. When I posted the link on Facebook, I had commented, "Jay Finley Christ created a monster that was bigger than we ever realized. A virtual Godzilla," and @jankathecat was inspired to follow that thought with the above.
Like I said, I love Godzilla. And I love the JFC Canonical abbreviations too. Both have a scary side, but both have a cozy familiarity as well. While I've heard the JFC abbreviations described as confusing and daunting for the new-to-the-pond Sherlockian, to me they're like the first names I know old friends by. Once you're familiar with the story titles themselves, there is little confusion to be found their. SPEC makes you think "Speckled Band." CHAS makes you think "Charles Augustus Milverton." 3GAB and 3GAR may take a tad more intimacy, but eventually there's no mistaking "Three Gables" and "Three Garridebs." They're old friends that you know on a first name basis.
Some Sherlockian publications used to devote a page to those abbreviations in every issue, as a key for the uninitiated, and I thought that was a wonderful thing. It made our hobby's special terminology open and inviting -- "Here's the code key to our special language! Join us!" I never saw it used as an intimidating gatekeeper device, like some legal or technical terminologies. And every area of enthusiasm is going to have its special words. (Just look at all the shipping terms -- including "shipping" itself -- which can seem a little daunting to the outsider.)
The trick in wandering into unknown territories that I've found is to not consider the locals unfriendly until they let you know they're unfriendly. The residents of France didn't develop French just to keep the rest of us away. It's just a happy, sweet-sounding part of their lives. Just as the Jay Finley Christ abbreviations are to many of us.
And I really hope they don't go away, as the occasional institution like The Baker Street Journal bends over backwards to be welcoming to new readers. Being welcomed to a home isn't done by making that home look like a public venue. It's letting the visitors come to understand and enjoy the special customs of that particular home, which will only serve to sweeten their experience as time goes on. At which point they might like those customs to continue as well.
I think I may have just argued myself into accepting the idea of "Aunt Clara" being sung at the BSI dinner every single year in perpetuity, so I'd best stop writing now. But I really do have a particular affection for those silly four-letter words Jay Finley Christ added to our lexicon . . .
. . . as well as another that I will use, should they ever go away completely.
I find I us the appreviations when ever I write about anything that includes the title of one of the cases (and you have given me an idea I will share soon on my blog). I guess we assume most readers are familiar with them. I do however have JFC's list on the right side of my blog. Whether or not someone looks at it or not. . . . .ReplyDelete