The Ecphorizer

Acronyms
Bill Harvey

Issue #23 (July 1983)



Acronyms. I can almost remember when I saw my first acronym. I was a mere child, but even then I was impressed with the seeming ridiculousity of acronyms. "Today, John Flingmaster was appointed to the position of chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)." I didn't worry about it overmuch at the time, I just chalked it up as one of those unknowable mysteries that constantly surround us.

[quoteright'/>I remember wondering why they felt compelled to add that string of letters after names. Surely, it wouldn't help anyone remember how to spell the names. I almost always know the first letter of words. It's the ones that come later that cause me all of the trouble. Sometimes even the first letters get me, like the "p" in psychologist and the "m" in mnemonics. Anyway, that's another story. Back to John.

If it's "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (CCBW) for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)," why isn't John Flingmaster known as John Flingmaster (JF)? And why isn't the Department of Motor Vehicles known as (DOMV)?

At some later date, an Authority Figure (AF) informed me as to the purpose of acronyms. Since I was twelve and she was fifteen, and because I was desperately in love with her, she was for certain an authority figure. From the heights of her superior age, experience sand wisdom, she bestowed upon me the information that acronyms were used after the name of an agency so that later in the text the agency could be referred to as DMV (DOMV?) instead of Department of Motor Vehicles, thus saving a total of 22 letters. Wow! That was worth knowing! I started watching for acronyms.

"Today Elsie Guernsey of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW)..." Wait a minute! If the Department of Motor Vehicles is DMV, why isn't the Department of Health, Education and Welfare DHEW? Another mystery hove into view. I was to learn that there were no hard and fast rules as to how many letters in a name had to be used in the acronym. If someone asked you where you worked, it was easier to say "hew" then to spell out D-H-E-W, or, even worse, to be forced to say Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In this particular article, I counted 23 "Department of Health, Education and Welfares" and 22 "(HEWs)." Once they printed "Department of Health, Education and Welfare" with no "(HEW)." I'm sure that heads rolled for that oversight.

Then, acronyms became cutesy.

OK girls, we all know why we're here. We have to come up with a name for our organization. Any suggestions? Yes, Pam?"

"How about Ladies' Equal Right Committee?"

"LERC? Really, Pam. That doesn't spell anything. Anyone else?"

"How about organized Groups of Ladies for Equality?"

"OGLE? Glenda, how could you?"

"How about Group of Lady Fighters?"

"GLF? I think not. Again, it doesn't spell."

"No, no. Group OF Lady Fighters. GOLF."

"That's a sexist game. Any other suggestions?"

"How about League of Women?"

"LOW? Come on, girls, we can do better than this. Besides, that's too close to League of Women Voters."

"I'VE GOT IT! I'VE GOT IT! Congress of Women! C..O.... oops."

"How about Mother's Order of Rights Equalizers?"

"That sounds so...greedy. MORE. Besides, we're not all mothers. Maybe we should come up with the acronym first, and then make the name fit. Now, where were we?"

"THAT'S IT. THAT'S the word. NOW. Isn't the time for equal rights NOW? Don't we want action NOW? Doesn't it sound properly demanding? NOW!"  

"Prissy, that's perfect. Now what can we make fit?"

The rest is, of course, history. The Naggers of Washington have become one of the strongest women's groups in existence today, and they feel that they owe it all to their acronym.

The only question remaining is where do we go from here? You may rest assured that those in charge are pushing the frontiers of acronymism forward as fast as humanly and scientifically possible. I have it on Good Authority (GA) that you may very soon expect to see your first acronym that contains numbers as well as letters.

END (Enough Nonsensical Drivel). 

Contributor Profile

Bill Harvey

BILL HARVEY used to submit his material to us with increasingly exorbitant demands for payment. One dollar, five dollars -- who knows where it would have ended? He is now satisfied with mere fame.




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