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It's the Pitts: Abbreviations galore
Itís the Pitts
By Lee Pitts

As a writer I love abbreviations (ABBís.) Itís a lot easier to write WHO and DAT than it is the World Health Organization and the Department of Advanced Technology. And ABBís are great for those of us who canít spell or remember multisyllable words. My motto has always been: ďFor words I hate... abbreviate.Ē

This is not to suggest there arenít problems with ABBís. In preparation for a trip my wife asked me to call the automobile association for info, so I looked up their number and dialed what I thought was their office.

Unfortunately I was somehow connected to the Alcoholics Anony-mous. They did not have any maps but they were very generous in wanting to help me with any drinking problem I might have. I guess I was lucky: I could have been connected to American Airlines and put on hold for hours.

Another problem is some groups came up with idiotic names just to have a funny acronym like the Beer Entertainment Executives (BEER). I like the Harley Owners Group (HOGS) but do members of the Property Insurance Group really like being called PIGS? I highly respect Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) but subtract one letter and they could be just another Mosquito Abatement District (MAD).

The largest producer of abbreviations in the world is the U.S. government. Thereís DOC, DOD, DOE, DOI, DOJ, DOL, DOS and DOT. And thatís just the Dís. The U.S. government is so bureaucratic they named two agencies for a small sluggish insect: AFIS (American Forces Information Services) and APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). One reason it uses ABBís is because their agencies bare no resemblance to their name. The USDA, not to be confused with the United Square Dancers of America (USDA), should really be called the USFS (not to be confused with the Forest Service) because the USDA spends more money on food stamps than it does on agriculture.

I get a real hoot out of the ABBís that airports use. Some of them make sense like CPR (Casper, Wyo.), SUN (Sun Valley, Idaho) and FAR (Fargo, N.D.) but others are confusing and embarrassing. Why is Kirksville, Mo., known as IRK and Wenatchee, Wash., referred to as EAT? Surely Fresno must be red-faced about being called FAT.

I donít mean to make fun of Fresno but in California there has been a faddish tendency to name their bus systems with cute names like SMART (Santa Maria Area Rapid Transit) and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System). I can only hope that Fresno did not follow this malodorous trend.

Some groups change their ABBís. For instance, the NCA (National Cattlemenís Association) buried their name and changed it to the NCBA so as to not be confused with the National Cemeteries Association. The rodeo cowboys changed from RCA to PRCA so that no one would think they built television sets. I fervently hope that the Los Angeles Airport doesnít change their name or they would then be EX-LAX.

As an animal science student I was very thankful for ABBís. Instead of remembering long and difficult-to-spell medical words I just had to remember that dogs got ICH, cats got FUS, horses got HYPP, sows got SAMS, chickens and my brother got EDS (Egg Drop Syndrome) and calves and I got BVDís in the winter.

Once as a Future Farmer of America (FFA) I was asked to speak to the FHA, the Future Homemakers not the farm lenders. Back then for some reason people often referred to the FFA as the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). I could understand maybe being confused with the Finnish Forest Association (FFA) but what did those people think the corn on our blue and gold jackets stood for? I assure you it was not because we were in training to become pilots or to ground jets at LaGuardia.

I swear that sometimes abbreviations get so confusing itís enough to drive a man to the AA ... and I donít mean the Angus Association.

This farm news was published in the February 22, 2006 issue of Farm World.

2/22/2006