Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Acronym of the day

When the Commonwealth Government was the new government, it changed the names of all the departments. We had become familiar with DCITA (which we pronounced d'keeta), the Department of Comnmunications, Information Technology and the Arts, and DEST (the Department of Education, Science and Training). Their pronounceable acronyms somehow humanised them.

But the new government, apparently unaware of the humanising effect of pronounceability, gave its new departments a different style of name - DCITA morphed into the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), and it was quite clear that it couldn't be pronounced at all. So it was heartening, at a Canberra meeting, to hear people referring to it as BACARDE (or perhaps Bacardi). Not strictly an acronym, since the D for Department has been dropped, and vowells have been changed in order to turn the acronymn into a homonym of a well known spirit (you can find out about it here, but you have to be over 18). But more human. Up to a point.


Rebecca said...

Derek, in light of this post perhaps you can help me with a dilemma I've been facing since last November ...
How on earth does one pronounce 'DEEWR'? (And given that it's essentially unpronounceable, how are we meant to remember how to spell it?)

Derek Whitehead said...

Rebecca, in such matters usage should be our guide, and failing that, some official guidance on the matter. Since official guidance would need to admit error - creation of an unpronounceable acronym - it is unlikely. The common pronounciation seems to be Dee-wer, with the accent on the first syllable. And sometimes Dee-w' with a half-vowell at the end (I can't describe this as a linguist might).

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