8. LDL

Generally, acronyms should be flung on to the pyre (starting with the hideous duo of LOL and FYI), but this one's special. LDL emerged from the recent Senate hearings with Goldman Sachs, and stands for "let's discuss live". As in, let's talk face-to-face. The Senate was suspicious, thinking that Goldman was trying to conceal important information by refusing to commit the discussions to the fine historical record that is email.

If I'd been on the Senate committee (and why not?) I think I would have been less bothered by the secrecy and much more upset by the absolute lack of humanity this particular acronym implies. Most acronyms, whatever they stand for, stamp the breath out of language. But this one cranks up the suffocation to a whole new level. Perhaps it's the contrast between its meaning and mechanical construction, converting the request for
a conversation between two humans to three brittle consonants representing words that make no sense. Let's discuss live. Couldn't they at least have said "let's discuss in person"? Or "how about a cup of tea and a chat about these crappy mortgages"? Not such good acronyms, I admit.

But the Senate hearing turned up some other great examples of word-murder. My favourite was the phrase written in an email by Daniel Sparks, Goldman's former head of mortgages, about his colleagues: "They structured like mad and travelled the world, and worked their tails off to make some lemonade from some big old lemons." The magic and heroism of banking reduced, poetically, to lemon-squashing. Good ol' Sparksy. You've got to hand it to a man who can apply such a wholesome metaphor, so replete with Vitamin C, to the dark arts of finance.

Another delight was the name of a collateralised debt obligation: "Timberwolf", a moniker that conjured up a cocktail of Tinkerbell and an ITV-style Gladiator. The idea that you can call toxic debt something so rustic and Disney-like is inspiring.

So let's start re-christening: how about "Elderflower" for the deficit and "Lilypad" for the war in Afghanistan. Anyone?

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman