January 13, 2006

No tattooed acronym

The hugely newsmaking exposé of Oprah-touted memoir-faker James Frey on The Smoking Gun reports that he "wears the tattooed acronym FTBSITTTD (Fuck The Bullshit It's Time To Throw Down)." He does not. No matter what the mendacious and vomit-bespattered self-deaggrandizer may have tattooed on his body, or on what part, FTBSITTTD is not an acronym. It's an abbreviation. It's funny that people get this wrong. What the two terms have in common is that they are composed of the initial letters of a phrase. The difference is whether you can read out the initial letters as if they were a word (as with AIDS, but not TB). Try pronouncing [ftbsitttd] as a word if you like, but if your tongue gets tangled into a knot, don't come complaining to me. Just get your boyfriend to untangle it.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 13, 2006 08:17 PM