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It isn't just acronyms or initialisms that are in danger of creating a new language, obscure to the uninitiated, as outlined recently in these pages by Markus Mannheim.

Consider that, in the same issue of The Canberra Times, there was a report of an encounter between the Scorchers and the Strikers. It could have been a show-and-tell involving bikies keen to flaunt their tattoos south of the Tweed, but in fact it was a cricket match.

Nor was that unusual: there were games involving the Renegades and the Thunder, the Heat and the Sixers, the Hurricanes and the Storm. How are we supposed to know who to support? And, yes, I know that the last-named play a different game altogether.

Our confusion started with the rebooting of Australian soccer as the A-League, with Wanderers and Mariners, Victory and Glory, Roar and Phoenix. And all this as we were getting to know our Brumbies from our Broncos, our Swans from our Eagles.

How much simpler if we could have teams named Perth or Adelaide, Canberra or Brisbane, so that we could support a particular place rather than a brand. For the mega cities, we could have Sydney East and Sydney West, Melbourne East and Melbourne West - in each case we could support the one whose geographical location best concurs with our social pretensions or lack thereof, a situation that happens to coincide with geography in each of those cities.

I realise of course these new names are merely forms of branding. Large amounts of money are used to establish brands and what better way to promote such an entity than to tie it with a sporting team. Still, if the most successful football competition in the world can have teams from Manchester, London, Liverpool and Glasgow that incorporate the name of the city or one of its suburbs, it is a pity Australia could not do the same.

Nor is sport unique in this. On the business pages in a single day recently, there were stories about companies named Newcrest, Platinum, Crown and Virgin. You can only admire the people who thought up these names. Think of the images they conjured up - cleanliness, sparkle, strength, purity, words that cleverly hide what they actually do. You don't see companies with names like Grime, Pollution, Smog or Litter. Mind you there is a successful global retailer that calls itself FCUK and expects us to believe that it stands for French Connection UK when it is just a clever way to keep older people out of their stores.

The exception to this is in the names of pop groups. A quick Google search will give you such charmers as Guttermouth, Hagfish, Left Front Tire and Parasites. I don't know whether any of those are famous but one group that used to be famous were the Pogues, an abbreviation for an Irish expression that invites the listener to kiss his extremity. However, since the intention in these cases is to attract attention, they fall outside our consideration here.

With the Pogues and their ilk, as with the Bombers, Raiders and Demons, we realise the names have nothing to do with the people involved. But there are situations in which a perfectly respectable word has been used in the hope that it may confer greater prestige on some activity. A good example is the way certain academics attach the word science to what they do.

So we hear about economic science or sports science, political science or social science. These are not merely oxymorons; the folk in economics or politics want us to believe their discipline is a form of science. Take economists as an example. As 2007 came to a close, 50 highly paid American economists and analysts predicted their country would not ''sink into a recession'' the following year. In fact, they predicted that 2008 would be a solid but unspectacular year. Not one of them foretold the crash. That was economics.

Three-hundred years earlier, Edmond Halley used the mathematics of his friend Isaac Newton to predict that the comet that now bears his name would appear in 1758, which it did. In our own lifetimes, we were confident it would appear again in 1987 (it did) and we know it will come again in 2061. That is science.

So why could a 16th century amateur correctly predict events 350 years in the future, but a slew of modern computer-aided experts couldn't manage to guess one year ahead? It is quite simply because one prediction is based on science, the other comes from entrail-gazing guesswork and shows how misleading it is to couple the words economics and science.

Calling a cricket team Renegades is marketing; calling economics a science is deception.

Anyway, that's what I think.

Frank O'Shea is a Melbourne writer.