[Ads-l] FYI: FYI

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Wed Feb 1 21:52:54 UTC 2023

Nice. Has the history / impact of (pricing of) telegram messaging on
three-letter acronyms or other initialisms been fully elucidated? (Not just
in the US - it would be interesting as a comparative project.)

On Tue, Jan 31, 2023 at 6:02 AM George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>

> Originally *U.S.*
>  *A.* *phr*
>   For your information (typically preceding or following an explanatory
> statement).
> 1941    *Washington Post* 27 Apr. 5/3   ‘FYI’ titles this new program for
> the Mutual network... The letters mean ‘For Your Information’—a series
> detailing how the United States is combating sabotage and espionage.
> The website of The Guardian newspaper this morning (January 31) has an
> article on the technical language of journalism.
> "The perils of using journalist jargon outside the newsroom."
> Elisabeth Ribbans <https://www.theguardian.com/profile/elisabethribbans>.
> The article concludes:
> For your information
> As a postscript, I was fascinated when reading Evans’ glossary [*] to find,
> just below “furniture”, an entry for “FYI”. He explained “for your
> information” was a wire service abbreviation. It had never occurred to me
> that this initialism, familiar from text messages and work emails, had its
> origins in news reporting. With help from archivists at Associated Press
> (AP) and Reuters, and a willing executive at the UPI news agency, I have
> been on its trail.
> The earliest reference I can find is a 1915 cutting from the Salt Lake
> Telegram newspaper, where a business journalist dropped “FYI” into an
> article, then explained its meaning to readers, adding: “It’s just a little
> thing that saves space on a telegraph message”. (In those days telegraph
> companies charged by the word.) But he complained it “jolted” him when he
> first saw it, and that it was not “in the book”.
> The book may have been Phillips Telegraphic Code
> <
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillips_Code#:~:text=The%20Phillips%20Code%20is%20a,desk%20staff%20would%20commonly%20use
> .>,
> first published in 1879 to assist the rapid transmission of press reports
> from wire services to client newspapers. Francesca Pitaro, archivist at AP,
> kindly checked the 1914 edition and found no mention. Did the abbreviation
> arrive only in 1915, or did it spring independently? If we find out, I’ll
> report back; just FYI.
> * Harold Evans’ five-volume Manual of English, Typography and Layout,
> published in 1972, has an extensive glossary
> --
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998.
> But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
> your lowly tomb. . .
> L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112
> The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
> picture of his great-grandfather.)
> http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Chris Waigl . chris.waigl at gmail.com . chris at lascribe.net
http://eggcorns.lascribe.net . http://chryss.eu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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