IT MAY have seemed to you, gentle Reader, that on my return from the Country of the Houthnhnms, I had concluded my Travels, which had already occupied Sixteen Years, and above Seven Months, of my Life; and that I would be content, for the rest of the Years left to me, with the company of my two Stone-Horses, they understanding me tolerably well, conversing with them at least four Hours every Day, and living in great Amity with them, as they in Friendship witch each other.

But the Hatred, Disgust and Contempt, with which my Wife and Children filled me, after my unfortunate Exile from the Houyhnhnm Country, did no abate, even after the sixth Year; and neither was there any lessening of their Smell, which has caused me to fall into a Swoon, for almost an Hour, when they first took me into their Arms, and kissed me, so great had been their Surprize and Joy at seeing me, since they had concluded me certainly dead, so long had I been gone.

I rrsolved then to continue my Voyages, and took Shipping in the Sound, on the Third of January, 1722, having accepted an advantageous offer to be Captain of a stout Merchant-man of above 300 tuns. There is no Need to weary the Reader with the Details of our Misfortunes on this Journey. It will suffice to record that whereas, on the first of my Voyages, our Ship had struck a rock, and immediately split; and on the second, we had been put in the utmost Distress by a violent Storm; and on the third, we were boarded by Pirates, and I was set a-drift; and on the fourth, my Crew had conspired against me, and put me on Shore in an unknown Land; on this fifth Vogyage, all of these Misfortunes happened to me in turn, as if to undo my Resolve.

I was again cast on the Shore of a strange Land, and among People who, although they bore some resemblance to human Creatures, yet had one Characteristic so pronounced, that it seemd that they had evolved into a new Stage, which our Race has still to attain.

The Houyhnhnms has a Language but no Letters; now I had fallen among a people who had Letters but no Langguage. As they came to greet me on the shore. I noticed that each of them was formed lkie a Letter. Their Bodies and Limbs, which resembled those of many Men and Women,

I noticed next that all of them were joined, like Siamese Twins, in Series of three or more Letters; that these never separated; and that they never changed their Order. Thus the first of them that joined me were, on my left Hand, arranged as NON, and on my right Hand, they spelled NOW. However they ran beside me, they kept this Order. I inquired if there was any Meaning in their so arranging themselves, and they answered as if they were surprised that I did not know already, that NOW stood for the National Organization for Women, and that NON indicated the National Organization for Non-Parenthood. I inquired of them to what Country I had come; they answered that I was in the Land of the Acronyms.

They had also, they explained to me, once been only human; they also had once used Acronyms only for conventience; but when they noticed that they were becoming their Acronyms, they determined to abandon all pretense; so that none of them has today any other Name that NOW, on the one hand, while the others are congent to exist as completely NON. They wondered that we had not yet evolved to such a Stage, but rassured that unavoidably it was the next Step in our evolution.

As THEY secorted me to their Ruler, we were joined by a goodly Crowd of others. A little slow in keeping up were ACHE-The Alabama Commission on Higher Education; throwing themselves to the Front were FAIR-Friends in America for the Independence of Rhodesia; with too few Legs to stand on were LEAD-Law Students Exposing Advertising Deception; and heavy-footed came their own HEW and their own HUD.

Their Ruler is known as the Grand ALPHOME-Alphato-Omega-since his Name encompasses all the Alphabets. He treats me warmly but with the Condescension we show to an Oragutan if it seems to count its Toes. But it was troubling at first to converse with him. When he inquired if I felt as Ease in his Country, and I answered that I was as calm as I counld expect to be in a strange Land, he repeated the word CALM, and took me to be one of the Citizens Against Legalized Murder. When I related that my Crew had confined me in a Cage, he assumed that I was speaking of CAGE-the Convicts' Association for a Good Environment. When I suggested that his People, the Acronyms, might have attained the End of our once human and primitive Civilization, he murmured that I must be a Member of END-Enviroment Near Death-who he said were among the gloomier of his Subjects.

He was at Pains to explain that a true Acronym is not a mere String of Initials, but must have the form of a Word and be able to be pronounced asx succh. Thus ABNPHSBM-Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments-is not an Acronym; but he argued that since it is possible to pronounce EIDEBOWEABEW-the Economic Intelligence Division of the Enemy Branch of the Office of Economic Warfare Analysis of the Board of Economic Warfare-then they would be admitted to his Country. I remarked that in our Country, an attempt had been made to make an Acronym of ACRONMYS-Acceptable Contractions of Randomly-Orgainzed Names Yiedling Meritorious Service-but he thought that this Frivolity only illustrated our Backwardness, and our Resistance to necessary Change and Evolution. He also frowned on such artificial Manufactures as CHOAS-Committee for Halting Acronymic Obliteration of Sense-and sighed that we had yet a long Way to go.

He smiled at the Confusion which we still tolerate, pointing out that the U.S. Government agency, Action, is not an Acronym, but in fact the Name of the Agency, whereas one of the Components of Action is VISTA-Volunteers in service to America-a genuine Acronym. I was nonetheless confident enough to suggest that his own Country was not altogether free from Confusion. I pointed to a Group whose Letters spelled out ABLE, and asked him, if I called for ABLE, whether I would get Action for Better Law Enforcement, or Activity Balance Line Envulation, or Agricultural Biological Literature Evaluation; or suppose that I sent for ACCRA, would I receive the Assistance of the Abortion and Contraception Counselling and Research Association, or of the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association? The Substance of their Adive, I said almost in an aside, would be bound to differ. I felt that I had wounded him. To say that someone was in COMA, I agreed, of course meant that he was in the Coke Oven Manager Association.

THE GRAND ALPHOME issisted to me that there were two Advantage in reducing the Language to Acronyms. They eliminate the need to think what an Organization stands for, as long as we know what the Acronym stands, for. HEW has always, he said, been a Pioneer of Acronyms; if it sets up a Program, and calls it HURRAH-Help Us Reach and Rehabilitate America's Handicapped-we know witoout a Thought, the Program is worthwhile; even if weedo not know if it refers to hancicapped Corgis, as well as to handicapped Humans; and in no less a way, when some Citizens form a Group, such as SERVE, we do not have to think what it does, since it stands for Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience; and who is against that? Who cannot give his Accord to ACCORD-Action Coalition to Create Opportunitities for Retirement with Dignity-and thus in creating an Acronym, seem to have created the Solution? He appeared for a Moment to smile when he explained that Acronyms are part of the Funding Process of modern Government.

But the main Need for Acronyms is the Growth of the Computer and other Electronic Systems, espically in the Corporations and War Departments of all Countries. An Abacus used to the a simple Method of counting, but call for ABACUS today, and there would spring to one's Aid either the Air Battle Analysis Center Utility System, or the Autonetics Business and Control United Systems. Oak trees may in the Old World have had Acrons, but ACRON now brings us the Associative Content Retrieval Network. Aesop once wrote instructive Fables for us, but AESOP now stands for the Artificial Earth Staellite Observation Program. We have all the numerous Acronyms to come to the help of the disabled, but AGED itself means that we are in touch with the Advisory Group on Electronic Devices.

I took my leave at last of the Grand ALPHOME and the Land of the Acronyms, and embraked for home on a Ship built for me by one of their number who was an immigrant AMRINA-Associate Member of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects-vowing that I would in future be more tolerant of My Wife and Children, and their Smell. For consider only the CASE-Committee on the Atlantic Salmon Emergency, or the Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education-in which I might wish to CALL-Community Action for Limited Learnes, or Composite Aeronautical Load Listing-on someone who might assist me to COPE-the Committee for Original People's Entitlement (Eskimos), or the Committee on Political Education (AFLCIO)-in achieving ACCESS-Automatic Computer Controlled Electronic Scanning System-to an organization which is ADEPT-Agricultural and Diary Educational Political Trust-in reaching my AIM-Accuracy in Media, or American Indian Movement-of being as free as ARIEL-Automated Real-Time Investments Exchange Limited . . .

But soon I will be once more where the sparrows chirp . . . CHRIP? NO, NOT THAT ALSO? YES . . . CHIRP-Community Housing Improvement and Revitalization Program. . . How great are our misfortunes, gentle Reader, on that we can AGREE-Advisory Group on the Reliability of Electronic Equipment. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By Susan Davis for The Washington Post