Archive for the ‘Initialisms’ Category

Today’s initialism

September 4, 2013

In  my mail today, a message labeled BFSA. Ok, any number of interpretations, many of them sexual (my mind is inclined that way), but then it turned out to be from these folks:


Initialistic ambiguity

April 16, 2013

From the NYT op-ed page on the 14th, in T. M. Luhrmann’s column “When God Is Your Therapist”:

… the Rev. Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, teaches you to identify your self-critical, self-demeaning thoughts, to interrupt them and recognize them as mistaken, and to replace them with different thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapists often ask their patients to write down the critical, debilitating thoughts that make their lives so difficult, and to practice using different ones. That is more or less what Warren invites readers to do. He spells out thoughts he thinks his readers have but don’t want, and then asks them to consider themselves from God’s point of view: not as the inadequate people they feel themselves to be, but as loved, as relevant and as having purpose.

It was the reference to cognitive behavioral therapy (or as Luhrmann has it, Cognitive-behavioral therapy). After the first mention, most writers shift to using the initialism CBT to refer this approach to psychotherapy. And then I have a moment of entertaining the possibility that the writer is talking about the fetish/kink cock and ball torture, also abbreviated as CBT. Context sorts things out, of course, though it entertains me to think of psychotherapists treating their patients with cock and ball torture, or BDSM folk torturing people with cognitive behavioral therapy.


Truncated lame duck

November 27, 2012

Caught on Facebook this morning:

Help us protect Social Security and Medicare benefits during the lame duck by signing our petition! (link)

This has the nominal lame duck as a truncated version of the N + N compound lame duck Congress/session — an ad hoc truncation that is interpretable given context and background knowledge.


Pre-op days

November 11, 2012

Notes on my Friday and Saturday, doing things, with the help of Elizabeth Traugott, to get ready for surgery on Wednesday.  Friday afternoon at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (family practice and physical therapy), Saturday morning at the Stanford University Medical Center and the Footwear Etc. store in Palo Alto. (Otherwise, a lot of exhausted sleep.) With some linguistic observations along the way.


For short

October 18, 2012

From an appointment on October 2nd with an orthopedist, the clipping nec fac /nɛk fæk/ for necrotizing fasciitis (from the doctor). This was a new abbreviation of the disease name for me; I was accustomed to the initialism NF /ɛn ɛf/ (from other doctors). And I wondered about the /fæk/ piece of the clipping, where I would have expected /fæʃ/ or /fæs/, given the full pronunciation of fasciitis, with one or the other of these  as the first syllable.


Still more fun with initialisms

September 7, 2012

Today’s Bizarro returns to play with initialisms:

That would be Curly, Larry and Moe in the original, with Moe replaced by a chimerical genetically modified organism (GMO).


Taboo initialism avoidance

August 9, 2012

In today’s NYT, “Making Facebook Less Infantile” by Austin Considine, about reactions to parents’ posting so much material about their babies, referring to

a new Web tool called, which replaces the baby pictures on Facebook feeds with things that people prefer to see, like photos of cats, sunsets and bacon.

and noting that

There are already blogs devoted to mocking over-sharing parents who, for example, post photos of their placentas. (“You used to be fun,” reads the tagline. “Now you have a baby.”) A tongue-in-cheek clothing line called AntiBaby sells T-shirts, hats and baby bibs sporting slogans like “I’m not pro-abortion, I’m anti-baby!”

The first of these references is apparently to a specific site, which is unnamed and unlinked-to in the Times story. Because the paper finds it offensive.


More play with initialisms

August 7, 2012

A little while ago, a Rhymes With Orange with a play on LMAO (vs. MAO). Now today’s Bizarro, with another initialism play:

That’s ATM (automated / automatic teller machine) vs. TM (Transcendental Meditation). Other pairs: MIT vs. IT, DVD vs. VD, ETA vs. TA, IBM vs. BM, ISO vs. SO,… (most of them not lending themselves easily to depiction in a cartoon).


The Chairman laughs

August 3, 2012

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

Chairman Mao. Chairman Mao with his phone: “Laughing My Ass off”. (Going all the way to LMFAO would ruin the visual effect.)

I wonder if there are people who object to LMAO because it’s “bad language” or “obscene”, the way some people object to WTF and its kin. (The taint of the abbreviated word is inherited by its initial letter.)


Potentially embarrassing acronyms

July 12, 2012

In the Economist of June 30th, in a story “Shaking it all up”) on the long-standing armed insurgency in Mindinao (the southernmost region of the Philippines):

This, however, failed to satisfy the aspirations of the main separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF — the insurgency is so old that its acronym predates embarrassment).

The insurgency goes back to the early 1960s (as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), formally established as MILF in 1984), while the initialism (for “Mother/Mom/Mum I‘d Like to Fuck”) goes back to the early 1990s.



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