Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lexicography question of the day

I emailed some gossip to a friend confirming what she had suspected, that X was a See You Next Tuesday.

She was unfamiliar with the expression, and asked:
See u next tuesday, meaning he’s too busy to talk? Or c.u. next tuesday?

I use ‘caring understanding nurturing type’.
Which is brilliant. But it got me thinking. I wonder, what is the word for the antonym of “acronym”? I bet Harry Orsman would have known.

UPDATE: Mary McCallum has the answer in the comments. The word, she says, is “bacronym”.

UPDATE 2: Lew from Kiwipolitico has further suggestions for the bacronym in question.

UPDATE: This afternoon I drive to Auckland (boo!) to fly to Melbourne for a couple of days (yay!) to attend a funeral (boo!) but I will be able to catch up with my old friends Brent and Co – no, that isn’t a company, it’s their names – and even go to a “gig” to see Co play guitar (yay!). Just like old times. So, no blogging for a bit.


Mary McCallum said...

I like this - never heard of either before... did a google, and I reckon what you're talking about Stephen is this:

Bacronym - The reverse of producing an acronym; taking a word which already exists and creating a phrase (usually humorous) using the letters of the word as initials: e.g. Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody (BANANA), Guaranteed Overnight Delivery (GOD).
• From back(wards) + acronym.

Stephen Stratford said...

Perfect. That is it. Thanks, Mary.

There is probably a bacronym for "bacronym". Which would be a meta-bacronym. And then, of course, there would have to be a bacronym for "meta-bacronym". But I think I will quit while I'm ahead.

Keri H said...

And isnt that wonderful info *totally* useless?

Chad Taylor said...

From what I've read nearly all US military acronyms are 'bacronyms' - military and industry alike cheat them so they sound cool. The better it reads, the more likely it is to get funding.

In peacetime however these same acronyms benefit crossword editors the world over. Ploughsharing, of a sort.

Lew said...

Popular in certain retail circles is the statement that the 'customer understands nothing today'.

In call centres or when referring to talkback, substitute 'caller'.

In the blogosphere, I think it's usually fair to substitute 'commenter'.

When referring to letters-to-the-editor or similar, substitute 'correspondent'.

When referring to the police, substitute 'constable', with extra points for recursion.

And so on. The possibilities are almost endless.


Stephen Stratford said...

Thank you Lew - the context-sensitive bacronym is an excellent idea. Which means I shall steal it.

Phil said...

really old ones could be anachronyms