Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jun 4 15:41:22 UTC 2004

At 5:07 PM -0700 6/2/04, Dave Wilton wrote:
>The other explanation is that "snafu," and its less well-known variants like
>"tarfu," arose in the military--an environment given to coining technical
>acronyms. In fact, the number of "snafu" variants that have come out of WWII
>point to the conclusion that the coinages were a joke about the army's
>penchant for acronyms.

That's what I've always assumed about "snafu", "fubar", and their
families; indeed, this penchant partly explains why the usual story
on the origin of "jeep" as an acronym (< General Purpose vehicle) has
had such a long and successful life, despite the fact that in this
case it appears to be an etymythology (from the evidence discussed in
earlier threads on the list).  A parallel case to "snafu" is the
example of "wizzywig" < What You See Is What You Get, mentioned
elsewhere, which plays off the prevalence of acronyms (albeit often
pronounced as initialisms) in technical writing.  WYSIWIG is a
pseudo-techie acronym in the same way that SNAFU is a
pseudo-military/governmental/bureaucratic one.  Another possible
candidate is GOMER (which, as some here have speculated, may not
actually have arisen as an acronym of "Get Out of My Emergency Room").


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