Originally created 11/30/97

Acronyms jumble up meanings



If you can't convince them, confuse them.

- Harry Truman

Look at your daily newspaper or turn on a news broadcast and you're soon picking your way through a minefield of the abbreviations and acronyms of public discourse.

An acronym is a word that is formed from the initial letters of a phrase.

NATO, CDC, AAA, PLO. They're everywhere.

If you really want to learn about acronymns, all you need to do is follow the trail left by your tax money. This often means you'll end up in Washington. Yes, my fellow Americans, our government would not exist without its own devil's dictonary of letters run riot.

Things like BUR ("Bottom-Up Review") which deal with military cutbacks or ISTEA (prounced ice tea) which stands for "Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act," and deals with traffic solutions (or in our case, improvements on the Augusta Canal.)

Such jargon is usually about trying to keep the people from figuring out what is going on in Washington, said one expert, James Boren, who is the head of INATAPROBU, the International Association of Professional Bureaucrats, an organization that doesn't take its task too seriously.

We should at least be able to have some fun with this.

I offer a quiz developed by a man named Frank Bruni.

The acronyms it offers are local and global, colloquial and formal. See if you know what they mean.

1. CYSICYG

2. SNAFU

3. WIN

4. RADA

5. SIDS

6. TINAFA

7. APEC

8. UNICEF

9. START

10. NASCAR

11. SCUBA

ANSWERS:

1) Pronounced sissy-sig, this is popular computerese for "Color You See Is Color You Get."

2. Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. A military way of describing confusion.

3. Whip Inflation Now, the battle cry of then-President Gerald Ford.

4. Radio detecting and ranging.

5. Sudden infant death syndrome.

6. This Is Not an Acronym For Anything (trick question).

7. Asian-Pacific Economic Coalition.

8. United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

9. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

10. National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.

11. Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

Here's how you did.

Fewer than two corect - OOPs (Oooh, pretty sorry.)

2-5 correct - UGH, (Underwhelming Grasp of History.)

6-8 correct - HMM, (History Maven, Maybe?)

9-10 correct - WOA! (Wizard of Acronyms!)

All 11 correct - LLPOF, (Liar, liar, pants on fire.)