lovehate: Plus ca change, tous ces la meme chose

abbreviation dictionary

The more that things change, the more they stay the same... and yet somehow I find myself in Quebec, but that's another story.

I've been guilty at decrying the over use of prefixes and suffixes as they relate to technology. After all, we've all suffered through "i" this and "e" that and something "x". And in as much as these prefixes and suffixes are problematic, their muddling of the English language pales in comparison to the acronyms and abbreviations that clutter up our linguistic sensibilities.

While strolling through a couple of bookstores in The Glebe (which is an Ottawa neighborhood) I stumbled upon Cecily C. Matthews "A Dictionary of Abbreviations" published by George Routledge & Sons in 1947 London. The book's forward begins: "The middle twentieth century, more perhaps than any previous period since writing began, is an age of abbreviations: new ones are being forged everyday." 62 years later and quite simply, this book could not exist as it would be horribly outdated by the time the compilation went to print. Abbreviations and acronyms have become an intrinsic part of our language that we are all at once loathsome of and thankful for.

With this said, I would like to present what I believe are some of the most interesting abbreviations from the book. It's funny to see how the concept making the words fit the acronym had no place in reduction of words, rather it was all about shortening text:

AFHTWTA - Amalgamated Felt Hat Trimmers' and Wool Trimmers' Association (Screw you non-felties!)
BPOWBGF - British Prisoners of War Books and Games Fund (Next they'll want cable.)
CPOHFC - Crossley and Porter Orphan Home for Fathlerless Children (
DSCAEF - Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force
FCKMU - Fife, Clackmannan and Kinross Miners' Union (This abbr. just looks obscene)
HMHMH - His Majesty's Household Master of the Horse (Is Horse Master like Beast Master?)
ICTRF - Ice Cream and Temperance Refreshment Federation (I so want to join this one.)
PLFIFL - Poetry Lovers' Fellowship and International Fellowship of Literature (I like Dead Poets' Society better.)
RSSPCA - Royal School Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
RSSPCC - Royal School Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
SVBEEQV - Si vales, bene est: ego quoque valeo ("I hope you're well; I am." - I think UOK?IOK works better.)
ZCRGSMWS - Zinc and Copper Roofers and General Sheet Metal Workers' Society (Try and make a cool sounding word out of this.)

At some point, shouldn't an abbreviation look at reducing the amount of words in order to reduce the letters in the acronym? Anyway, though we think we may the first generation to bitterly complain about language disappearing into initials, in 62 years our complaining has remained pretty constant. Or to sum it up: we have indeed no exclusivity... or WHINE for short.