Acronyms (was: Phat(t), etc)

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jun 5 17:45:32 UTC 2004

Just to reply to Doug Wilson, who said:

'I do doubt "fubar" as a
genuine acronym because the supposed expansion includes the word "all"
which doesn't really belong.'

'Beyond all recognition' is a perfectly good idiom for me;  'beyond recognition'
feels as if there's something 'missing'.  I do agree that the 'all' doesn't
really add anything to the phrase;  I ascribe its presence to a desire by users
to stress that there is absolutely no possibility of recognising a thing that
has been (verb)ed, or is (adjective), to the extent described.

I think it's an emphasis phenomenon along the same lines as 'They haven't yet
notified ourselves':  the *-selves* is of course wrong for classical English
grammar but it has been added by users of English in business (I think) to
emphasise the centrality in the situation of the person referred to.  I could
imagine that people who would say 'They haven't yet notified ourselves' would
also have coined 'beyond all recognition' to emphasise that even the advanced
methods of recognition available to them as a specialist, and not to the
layman, would have failed at the recognition task described.

A Google search on 'beyond all recognition' reveals lots of tokens;  most either
are 'Fucked/Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition' or phrases clearly derived from
that one, but some are not:  'disgusting beyond all recognition', 'they have
butchered the story beyond all recognition', etc.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

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