So here’s my somewhat complicated plan: Next week (Thursday, June 13/Sunday, June 16): as scheduled, the results of the Week 1022 compare-and-contrast contest, but no new contest. I’ll do a short Style Conversational but probably won’t have much to discuss. Then the week after that (June 20/23), we’ll have the second set of ScrabbleGrams results, plus a new contest that I’ll work out this weekend. No Conversational that week. I’ll judge the haiku on the plane.
Why am I not running the two ScrabbleGrams results in a row? Because I like things to be unnecessarily complicated, okay? Anyway, by July 21 we’ll be back to our usual four weeks between announcement of the contest and posting of the results.
Meanwhile, we return to the venerated genre of the backronym, which basically pretends that some existing name or other word or term, which has been just standing around being a word, actually is an acronym for some sentence or phrase. Backronyms have been around for ages, often totally bogusly explaining a word’s derivation: I remember my mother telling me that “news” stood for “north, east, west, south,” while it really stands for, duh, “new stuff.” It’s often said (primarily by club-wielding troglodytes) that the word “golf” was created to mean “gentlemen only; ladies forbidden”; it actually most likely comes from an old Scottish word meaning to hit something, as in cuffing someone. This meaning was in use even before Elin Nordegren’s time.
Of course, the key to making a backronym funny is that the phrase should be a funny observation about the original term. If you’re spelling out, say, “beagle” and you make some clever remark about President Obama’s drone policy, that’s not going to work unless the phrase itself manages to tie in some analogy among Obama, drones and beagles.
Looking back at the results of Week 632, the previous time we did this contest (with product names), I remember some grousing about how we presented the results: We didn’t say what the product was in each entry; the reader had to spell it out from the first letters of each word. We’d figured that the joke would be more fun if the reader discovered the answer on his own. We did try to help by both capitalizing and boldfacing each initial letter (see here on a PDF of the print page; there’s no online version that I can find), but I don’t know how if that was more helpful or confusing. When I chose the inking entries I used as examples for this contest, I decided to put the product name at the end of the entry; I’ll probably do that again for these results. Puzzling something out is fun for a short time; doing it 30 times over can become tedious.