Friday, October 4, 2013

Acronym of the Day: "Gröfaz"

The thing we’re trying to do, to prevent another 9/11, keeps getting rebranded.
Stylistically, the low point came with the designation “GWOT”, which stands for “Global War on Terror”.
Those who prosecute this mission, normally pronounce it “GEE-watt” (though the acronym has largely fallen out of use);  but I persist in pronouncing it as a monosyllable,  the gwot -- rhyming with blot, not, sot, rot, snot, and other words less respectable still.   “How goes the gwot?” I greet those thus engaged.

An even uglier acronym (if such be possible), likewise self-important in origin, was used, satirically, against Hitler:

Before it was over, his commanding generals  were referring to him bitterly as Gröfaz:  a name ugly enough to have served some monster of mythology, some twisted kobold or goblin  embodying and spreading evil.  In actuality, it was a contraction of the title that General Keitel bestowed upon the Führer  in June 1940:  Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten.
-- Gordon Craig, Germany 1866-1945 (1978), p. 714

As to the pronunciation of this ungainly confection:  it is best described as something between a grunt and a groan, followed by an escape of acrid gas.
(For a similar exercise in non-IPA transcription, cf. the case of "oahspe".)
[More empirically:  GRU-fahts, with "U" as in "put".]

For a nice rhyming poem about this unusual creature, click here:

Für psychologisch tiefgreifende Krimis,
in pikanter amerikanischer Mundart,
und christlich gesinnt,
klicken Sie bitte hier:


The US military-diplomatic world  abounds in acronyms pronounced phonetically as words.   Another ungainly one, designating (so to speak) the “Gröfaz” of the United States, is POTUS;  he rules over CONUS.   -- In the opening episode of “West Wing”, a young fellow gets an emergency call on his cell, explaining to his girlfriend that it is from “Potus”.  She said the fellow should learn not to call at ungodly hours, and moreover “Potus” is a strange name.  “It means ‘President Of The United States’”, he explains.
Note:  The pronunciations of such things is normally alphabetic-phonetic, rather than etymological.  Thus CONUS (meaning, ‘the Lower 48’) is pronounced CONE-uss, with long “o”, even though it is from  CONtinental United States, with short.


Und nun:  HoGeSa.

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