Glossary: AMOOFLs

Glossary of American English Hacker Theocratese

Back Top Forward

blue line


For the purpose of this Glossary, I have created a new term, and have used it consistently throughout, namely:

AMOOFL    Abbreviation Made Out Of First Letters

But why?

Following the release of version 6.1 of the Glossary, I received approximately one electronic wheelbarrow full of commentary from discerning readers who pointed out that the word acronym had been misused throughout the book.

According to the Internet Webster's, and any other reputable dictionary: \'ak-r*-.nim\ n [acr- + -onym (as in homonym)] :
      a word (as radar, snafu) formed from the initial letter
      or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts
      of a compound term

The essential point is that an acronym is a word and so should be pronounceable By that rule, combinations like {GB} (for Governing Body) are not acronyms. They are merely abbreviations, except to persons in the habit of saying things that sound like their mouths are full of peanut butter. \*-.bre--ve--'a--sh*n\ n 1: the act or result
      of abbreviating : ABRIDGMENT 2: a shortened form of a word or
      phrase used for brevity esp. in writing in place of the whole

By that definition, not only does GB qualify, but so do hacks like bldg for building. All acronyms are abbreviations, but not all abbreviations are acronyms.

However, it is common for persons to abuse the precise definitions. Where I work there is a database of these terms in a file called acronyms, searchable with a program called acr. The file includes such common abbreviations as:

    IBM - International Business Machines

As we all know, when naming the venerable company, we say eye-bee-EM, not IB-um. Yet most people erroneously think of the name as an acronym.

Upon being called to account for my use of acronym in the Glossary, I was confident that the Glossary's inspirational model, the Jargon File, probably made the same mistake and that my critics were simply not computer-world hip enough to recognize that things had changed in the world of acronyms and abbreviations.

Wrong again! I checked the Jargon File, and found that wherever it uses the word acronym it describes a true acronym by the Webster's definition. Otherwise, it uses the word abbreviation.

This left me with a dilemma. There was a lot of verbiage about acronyms in the Glossary. What to do? A discussion with my advisors led to an interesting and unconventional solution. Being a {neologist}, I wound up creating a new word to describe these beasts, namely the recursive coinage: AMOOFL! (Sounds like a mouthful to me.)

This all-inclusive term does include both GB and {MEPS} (a true acronym), but does not include shortcuts like bldg and svc mtg. AMOOFL is itself an AMOOFL and a true acronym, because it is pronounced, not spelled.

I'm all for circulating AMOOFL throughout the world, though the odds of its being picked up for general use are slim. One brother wondered whether AMOOFL might also turn out to be A Major Oral Overdose For Linguists. The only persons likely to use it will probably be fellow Witnesses throughout the world. So what? Someday that's all that will be left.

blue line

Back Top Forward

Glossary: AMOOFLs