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Call it UNINATI

I
'm about to start ranting about the United Nations. No, I'm not a right-winger up in arms about "one world government." What I am is a literate person fed up with stupid fake acronyms.

How difficult is it to determine a set of initials? If your best friend in kindergarten was Jimmy Carruthers, you might have called him J.C. Or, heck, you might have been creative enough to bypass the initial route and come up with a cool-sounding diminutive, such as "Jimcar." But even at age 5 you'd know the difference between Jimcar and his initials.

Show little Jimmy to the geniuses at the United Nations and they'd likely tag him with an "acronym" like JICARRUT.

Yes, this is the organization that brought us UNSCOM and UNPROFOR. Once upon a time, perhaps in the Dag Hammarskjold era, it attracted the best and the brightest -- people who could figure out that a good short version of "United Nations" might be, oh, I dunno, "U.N." UNESCO and UNICEF are true acronyms. UNHCR is a misguided mouthful that stands for a stupid name, but at least it truly stands for that name, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Today, however, the United Nations pays staffers (handsomely, I'm sure) to decide that the United Nations Special Commission (another stupid name, but I digress) is not UNSC, but UNSCOM. The United Nations Professional Force is not UNPF, but UNPROFOR. If today's U.N. people had formed the U.N., it would be called UNNAT, or maybe UNITNA or UNINATI.

It might not be so bad if these things were mellifluous, but UNSCOM and UNPROFOR don't exactly roll off the tongue (I still don't know how the latter is even pronounced). It might not be so bad if these monstrosities were treated the way a kindergartner would treat "Jimcar," but the U.N. staff writers (UNSTAWRI, right?) insist on all caps, as if the U and the N and the S and the C and the O and the M and the U and the N and the P and the R and the O and the F and the O and the R all stood for something.

My policy: Don't use these terms. Write the U.N. representatives in Iraq or whatever. If someone uses one of these terms in a quote, cap the first letter only: Unscom, Unprofor.

And if the UNITNA folks ever come to my door asking for a dime in the name of stamping out illiteracy, I'm afraid I'll have to say I gave at THOFIC (the office).


Now what?

Move on to THE ACTIVE VOICE IS OVERRATED

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