In an unprecedented move, the government of Timor-Leste became the first in the world this week to unveil its plans to ban all acronyms in the country.
The announcement was made at a meeting with the press held at Hotel Timor on Monday.
The move comes hot on the heels of the Social Network Against Redundant Forms (SNARF) declaring that Sunday, May 17, will be the International Day of Freedom from Acronyms, jokingly referred to as IDFA by some pro-acronym activists.
Government spokeswoman Pan Thrar told local reporters that acronyms would be completely outlawed for use in spoken and written form by May 17, 2012.
“The use of acronyms in Timor-Leste has been a major holdup for development. We spend so much time trying to decipher acronyms in speeches and reports that sometimes we actually forget whether we’re supposed to be speaking Portuguese, Bahasa, English, Tetun or a mixture of the four,” she said.
“We’ve lost years of working hours trying to come up with new and catchy acronyms while figuring out what everyone else’s mean. Members of parliament aren’t paid enough for this kind of workload, whereas the teams of foreign advisers working in the government’s acronyms departments are raking it in,” she added.
A United Nations employee, who declined to be named, told press that she had never heard of the United Nations.
“I work for the UN. That’s all I need to know. You can see it on the side of my car,” she said.
The decision to ban acronyms has met a frosty reception with Portuguese Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) soldiers stationed in Timor-Leste.
Speaking in front of the enormous “GNR” letters painted on the GNR compound’s wall, one soldier said, “Banning acronyms would be disastrous. We’d have to repaint this wall, for a start. If we’re not GNR, we’ll just be great dancers with berets. That’s not cool.”
A higher-up in the GNR told journalists, “It just wouldn’t make sense to get rid of acronyms for us. If we can’t RSVP to parties then we’re going to have to teach the entire guard to speak French.”
Acronyms are going to be phased out gradually. First for the chop will be those non-governmental organizations that are so small nobody is really sure what they do.
Last September, acronyms caused a stir in Bangkok, Thailand, when 5,000 wrestling fans turned up at a World Wildlife Fund convention at Impact Arena, apparently unaware that the World Wrestling Federation had changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment.
Join us on Sunday as we celebrate a day free of acronyms.