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The strange French addiction to acronyms


FRENCH OFFICIALDOM is abuzz with preparations for the PFUE, which the MEAE and SGAE are organising for the PR in 2022. Misplaced? Spare a thought for the outsider who should day by day navigate the French ardour for acronyms and initialisms. All international locations use them, however France has a specific penchant. The newest (PFUE) refers to the French Presidency of the European Union, which begins in January 2022 (and is in actual fact the presidency of the European Council). Regardless of. The abbreviation is already in every single place, and, because the opening sentence says, officers from the overseas ministry and a secretariat within the prime minister’s workplace are getting ready this event for the president.

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The choice of the French for abbreviations is so ingrained that they scarcely discover it. Britain might have its NHS, or America NASA. France has them for each a part of life: transport (TGV, RER, SNCF), politics (PS, EELV, LREM, LFI, RN (previously the FN) and LR), unions (CGT, CFDT), work (SMIC, CDD, CDI, CSE, RTT), the police (BRI, RAID), taxes (CSG, URSSAF, IFI). The precept appears easy: why use a phrase like funds when an abbreviation like PLF (projet de loi de funds) will do?

What’s behind this zeal? Some date it to the organisation of the trendy state within the late 19th century, when our bodies corresponding to unions (CGT) or the political actions that later joined collectively because the SFIO, the precursor to the Socialist Get together (PS), emerged, and with them the complicated names that deserved shortening. Maybe it’s also the results of the state’s tendency to bureaucratic complication; an acronym can simplify relatively than confuse. So the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (the nationwide railway) turns into the much less indigestible SNCF.

The indisputable fact that practitioners of such a chic language infect it with such abominations has not gone unnoticed. The Académie Française, which polices such issues, recommends that when it comes to acronyms “moderation is an efficient factor and abuse harmful.” Curiously, one of many few spheres by which the French go away prolix descriptions alone is meals. No CDC for confit de canard, nor BDV for blanquette de veau.Organisational or bureaucratic life, it appears, is to be tolerated and shortened. Gastronomy can take its time.

This text appeared within the Europe part of the print version beneath the headline “PFUE? LOL”

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