Saturday, February 21, 2009


After graduating from high school, a German exchange student and I were talking about our teachers from the previous year and wondering how they were doing. One of our teachers had a son named D. J. and for some reason we got on the topic of what the hidden names behind the "D" and the "J" might be. Immediately, my brain started working out "David John", "Dustin Jackson" and other similar versions of boy names, but in the silence of our thoughtfulness, my friend replied, "But... I don't think his name is Disk Jockey". No, it definitely was not Disk Jockey.

At that interchange, my understanding of how American acronyms are really hit home. My German friend really had not had much experience with acronyms, so she immediately thought of the one other instance she had heard that combination of letters together, instead of filling in the blanks with traditional boys names.

So, what do they do in Germany with long titles or names? They simply take all of the words and string them together, end-to-end without any breaks. This word is considered the longest, at 79 letters: Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamten- gesellschaft. Translated into English, this is the Association of the Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services (the A.S.O.H.O.M.D.S.E.S.?), which was a subdivision of a pre-war Viennese shipping company. It's sort of a mouthful, but I think I love how it's so anti-laziness!

But really, maybe the trend towards acronyms is catching on world-wide. For us in North Carolina, IKEA is on the brain, as a new store just opened up in Charlotte two days ago. Where did the name come from? It is the acronym for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd, the name and location of the man who founded the Swedish home furnishings retail store...

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