New Internationalist


Issue 394

This month Seriously reports on the increasing controversy surrounding the use of UJuMiNuBA – Useless or Just Mind-Numbingly Blinkered Acronyms – which has linguists all in a tizzy. The pages of NI notwithstanding, acronyms seem all the rage these days, particularly in scientific and political establishments.

According to The Register, one German scientist is currently labouring to break the record for UJuMiNuBA usage through an EU-funded research project. Dr Axel Temming of the IHFS (Institute of Hydrobiology and Fisheries Science) at Hamburg University has entitled his exhaustive study on EU fisheries: BECAUSE (Critical Interactions BEtween Species and their Implications for a Pre*CAU*tionary Fi*S*heries Management in a variable Environment – a Modelling Approach).

Not to be outdone by the Europeans, the US Government is insisting that its Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 should be the reigning king of silly acronymage. Many experts are beginning to concede that the PATRIOT Act should be the benchmark but UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has threatened to wade in to the fray by offering to create a new peacekeeping force in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) with at least eight consonants and only two vowels FWIW (For What It’s Worth).

The usually cool-headed Annan was somewhat placated when critics pointed out that the UN already had the edge with a nested acronym in UNGAID – the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, which could easily defeat the PATRIOT Act on points and give BECAUSE a run for its money. Still, many eyes are turned towards the British Government for a breakthrough with expectations rife that the PM Tony Blair will soon unveil a new QUANGO that will leave previous acronymic champions in the verbal dust. WTS (Watch This Space).

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