Monday, February 6, 2012

Hatters gonna hat

Is there a name for that thing that happens where people redundantly tack the last word from an acronym onto the acronym, as in "PIN number" and "ATM machine"? Yesterday John did it with "BFF's forever," which I'm sure is the name of several Facebook groups. I was talking to a guy at a party once several years ago about this phenomenon, and the example he gave was "stupid hat party party." Whether or not there is such a thing as a stupid hat party (party), this is still my favorite example.

Update: It's known as RAS syndrome (redundant acronym syndrome syndrome).

23 comments:

  1. ATM = asynchronous transfer mode, not automatic teller machine.

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  2. Actually, it means both. Or was that a joke? Too subtle for me?

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  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAS_syndrome

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  4. This topic came up one day in a random conversation at work a little while back. One of my co-workers found the Wikipedia article on RAS Syndrome that's linked in one of the other comments here. (In your blogpost here, when you asked if there's a word for it, I sat here for a minute going "Now what the heck was it called when we were talking about it at work that time?")

    I've never been to a Stupid Hat Party (or to a Stupid Hat Party party), though I did go once to a "wild [i.e. crazy, zany] hat party." The hat I wore was bright yellow, snug-fitting and rounded on top, with a short rounded bill, and streamlined bright yellow wing thingies reaching back from the sides of the hat.

    It was a fun hat to wear -- I still have it. Quite a few of the other hats at the party were fun too.

    Years back there was a hat parade at a busy intersection a few blocks from my apartment around 20 or 25 people took part in a crazy hat parade. They were apparently all people who had bought custom-designed hats from a small shop nearby that made custom-designed hats. The hat that sticks out in my mind from the hat parade was one with stuffed cloth Bullwinkle moose antlers.

    The hat parade drew some pleased looks from passersby, though it didn't stop traffic.

    (The part of town where I live has a pretty high threshold for what it takes to stop traffic. I once saw a young woman, maybe 17 or 18, walking down the street with dragonfly-like fairy wings on her back and she was wearing an ethereal fairy dress or gown, and nobody gave her a second look. On another occasion, a man wearing a black bird costume, wings and all, came walking through the main shopping mall at the intersection, went into a Jimmy John's sandwich shop and ordered a sandwich, and went on his way, and nobody batted an eye.)

    Word verification is "ratedsta". That's this neighborhood, all right -- definitely rated STA.

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  5. Via Dan Coffey, who was having trouble posting a comment:

    The linguistic term is "pleonasm" but I'm so pleased to have been turned on to RSA Syndrome. I think that's my new favorite TLA!

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  6. And my mom reminds me in El Paso that there are a lot of streets named, e.g. Calle Colina Street, which means Hill Street Street.

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  7. there's also the recursive acryonym, one whose first letter stands for the acronym. Example: PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Processer. All of the examples of this seems to be from the world of software - wonder if there are any in the "real" world?

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  8. Yes, I was reminded of PINE, the email program we used at Rice, which stood for "Pine is not Elm" (Elm being a previous iteration of the program).

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  9. i remember PINE at IU. email as it was meant to be. pure and simple, without harsh additives, direct from natural email springs in the swiss alps...

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  10. What about John Duns Scotus, the medieval philosopher? His name means John of Dunse, the Scotsman--which is like saying John the Scotsman from Scotland. Re-duns-dant.

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  11. Yes, I was quite fond of PINE myself. Anyone remember the command that allowed you to delete a whole line?

    Scotus? That sounds downright dirty. Also, I hate the acronym POTUS.

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  12. SCOTUS is an acronym too.

    SCOTUS even has a blog called... SCOTUSblog

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  13. just gonna throw out that the full name of the Angels (MLB baseball team) is The Los Angeles Angels, which means The The Angels Angels.

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  14. even better, it's actually the the angels angels of anaheim

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  15. I *think* most of the recursive acronyms started with GNU (Gnu is not Unix), but I'd have to check. I love these Redundancy Department of Redundancy things.

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  16. I learned from watching "24" that the POTUSization of the First Lady is FLOTUS.

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  17. POTUS and FLOTUS? Sounds like one of those weird, slightly disturbing, yet also somehow naively innocent comic strips that form a kind of cult following. (Cf. Zippy the Pinhead, etc.)

    The phrase "MLB baseball" (occurs in one of the comments above) -- in effect, "Major League Baseball baseball" -- is another example of RAS.

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  18. I hope to one day be as clever and witty as you, Elisa.

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  19. An Italian pop star called simply Elisa has an album called Lotus.

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