Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Sat Jun 5 06:11:50 UTC 2004

On Jun 4, 2004, at 11:41 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]
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> 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").
> larry

"G.I." is another member of the "jeep" class. When I was in the Army, I
don't think that I heard the word "government" spoken in reference to
anything. I heard plenty of "standard issue," "Army issue," and even
plain "issue," but I never heard "government issue." A jeep was called
a "jeep," but its official designation was "one-quarter ton utility
vehicle," according to the paperwork that I had to fill out to take one
out of the motor pool.

-Wilson Gray

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