Wednesday, January 17, 2007


On CNN this afternoon Wolf Blitzer--whose first name I originally dismissed as far too contrived and precious until it dawned on me that it's probably short for the very common and unpretentious Wolfgang--mentioned a pro-surge political organization called CALM, for the Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle-East.

I had an immediate problem with that name. It a way, it's even more aggravating than Wolf would be even if Wolf were an affectation. It's an example of what you might call the Labored Acronym Syndrome, in which individual words must be arranged in an unnatural, even uncomfortable sequence simply to justify an easily-remembered acronym. Even worse, the name is larded with articles and conjunctions that are simply omitted from the final acroname. In this case, fully eight words are reduced to a mere four letters. (The hyphen in Middle-East is nothing but a cheap ploy to delete the final E.) Why do they do these things, I wonder.

And in this case, the answer comes to me immediately. The more efficient, natural phrasing of the organization's title would be Campaign for American Middle Eastern Leadership. Makes sense. Rolls right off the tongue. Won't be used in a thousand years. Why? Because the resulting acronym would be CAMEL.

Is it possible that people in that part of the world would take great and indignant offense? Gee, I don't know. Is the Mullah Omar a Muslim? Does a dromedary shit in the dunes?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon my lazy but

CALM Department of Conservation and Land Management (Western Australia)

CALM California Living Museum

CALM Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring

CALM Cafe-Au-Lait Macules

CALM Citizens Against Legalized Murder

CALM Children Affected with Lymphatic Malformations

CALM Computer-Assisted Livestock Marketing

CALM Catapult Arresting-Gear and Landing-Aids Maintenance

CALM Charlottesville's Abundant Life Ministries

CALM Circumarctic Active Layer Monitoring

CALM Custody Action for Lesbian Mothers

CALM Catholic Action League of Massachusetts

CALM Common Assembly Language for Microprocessors

January 19, 2007 at 6:33 PM  

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