Do Other Non-English Speaking Countries Have Acronyms That Spell Out Words

I’m thinking of a contrived acronym like the USA PATRIOT Act. I can’t think of other examples where an acronym is spelled out to make a word (or series of words) in the native language but I’m certain there are other instances.

Does this happen in non-English languages and, if so, what are they?

I can’t think of any examples in Dutch. Of course we shorten words, using only the first letters. But never into another word. So we talk about LNV that wants to vote against our POL. And abbreviations like NATO have become words in themselves. But we don’t have the equivalent of, for example, CAN (Clean Air Now).

Same deal in French. We certainly do use acronyms as words (we even give them genders. You might be interested to know NASA is a lady, but the FBI is a dude), but I can’t think of any acronym the letters of which form a real word.

I had never thought about how a language with grammatical gender deals with acronyms. Is NASA feminine because of the A at the end?

حركة المقاومة الإسلامية
arakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmīyah means ‘Islamic Resistance Movement’
and forms the acronym حماس Ḥamās meaning ‘zeal’.

أفواج المقاومة اللبنانية
Afwāj al-Muqāwamah al-Lubnānīyah means ‘Detachments of Lebanese Resistance’
and forms the acronym أمل Amal meaning ‘hope’.

There’s one that goes backwards:
حركة التحرجر الوطني الفلسطينية
arakat al-Taḥrīr al-Waṭanī al-Filasṭīnīyah means ‘Palestinian National Liberation Movement’
but that would form the acronym حتف Ḥataf which means ‘death’. Oops! So they acronymed it backwards and got فتح Fatḥ meaning ‘victory’.
In English they spell it Fatah with an extra -a- so that everyone can tell the t and h are separate letters and not the digraph “th” for the unvoiced dental fricative /θ/ (which would be a different letter in Arabic, ث).

I certainly didn’t expect that all the romance languages wouldn’t do it but that a completely non-Roman alphabet would. Fascinating!

The only German acronym I can think of that forms a word is (Die) PARTEI, the name of a German spoof political party.

Partei für Arbeit, Rechtsstaat, Tierschutz, Elitenförderung und basisdemokratische Initiative
(Party for Work, Rule of Law, Animal Welfare, Advancement of Elites, and Grassroot-Democratic Initiative).

It could even considered a recursive acronym…

Generally speaking, such an acronym that spells out a word would only be desirable in politics and non-commercial culture, not in business where most acronyms are generated, because you could not trademark the acronym.

Nope. It’s because the keyword in the acronym is A for Agency, which is a feminine noun. So the CIA, NSA and NASA are all feminine. The operative word in FBI is Bureau, which is masculine, hence the whole acronym is masculine. I wouldn’t try finding logic in noun genders in general though. Down that road, madness lies :stuck_out_tongue:

However, I just realized something - while we either pronounce NSA, CIA, NASA, NATO and so on as french words or french acronyms (i.e. CIA is say-ee-ah), we always pronounce FBI the English way (eff-bee-aye) rather than eff-beh-ee as we should. I have no idea why.

Hebrew acronyms don’t necessarily spell out existing words, but they’re all pronounced as words, not as their constituent letters. Commonly used ones do eventually become words in their own rights - a few Israeli political parties’ names are based on acronyms, like Likud and Meretz. I’ve also heard people refer to the US as “Arhab”, the acronym for “Artzot Ha’Brit,” its proper name, although this sounds quite silly to me.

I was trying to think of some Bulgarian examples and could only come up with one - there’s a Roma rights organization called СЕГА:

Старт за (Start for)
Ефективни (Effective)
Граждански (Citizen)
Алтернативи (Alternatives).

СЕГА = CEGA = “now”.

This thread is one of the reasons that the SDMB is such a superb source of knowledge. Wonderful question, terrific responses. Bravo.

I pronounce CIA and NSA as English letters, even in French. As for NATO, it is of course OTAN in French, and this is what I use in French.

My university has a research group called MOIVRE, which stands for MOdélisation en Imagerie, Vision et RÉseaux de neurones (okay, not a real acronym, but still) and is a reference to French-English mathematician Abraham de Moivre. I’m sure there are other examples.

In Mexican Spanish, the American CIA is pronounced phonetically as a word: la “see-uh.” The FBI is interesting, as some people use the Spanish pronounciation for the letters (efay be ee), and others pronounce it as we do (but with a Mexican accent). Some of their organizations are prounced as words, such as IFE (their nationalized electrical company) or PEMEX (their nationalized petroleum company), but I’ve not happened upon one that spells an actual Spanish word (but I’ll be on the lookout now). Well, there’s the PAN (their non-backward politcal party), but I’m faily certain that they’re not trying to imply “bread” to the people.

I honestly never knew until know that the USA PATRIOT act name was an acronym.

Christ, now the name is even more embarrassing.

Same here, had to look that one up.

Back during, say, the Lincoln Administration, they’d just refer to “the Act of March 3, 1862.” None of these stupidly baroque acronyms for Acts of Congress.

It seems some European Union programs and studies also have word-acronyms.

ERASMUS = European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students
LIFE+ = L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement
LEADER = Liaison entre actions de développement de l’économie rurale
PHARE = Poland and Hungary: Aid for Restructuring of the Economies
MEDIA = Mesures pour Encourager le Développement de l´Industrie Audiovisuelle
PRIME = Privacy and Identity Management for Europe
REFLEX (study) = risk evaluation of potential environmental hazards from low energy electromagnetic field exposure using sensitive in vitro methods

"Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 " (from wikipedia). I knew it was one, but couldn’t remember the details.

These two are interesting. A French name acronymmed to an English word, and an English name acronymmed to a French word (phare = lighthouse, I believe).

The early Christians’ use of the fish as a symbol was a rebus based on an acronym.

Iesous = Jesus
CHristos = Christ
THeou = God’s
Uios = Son
S (I forget the Greek word for “savior”)


Between you and me, that one’s pushing it.

Chinese does something somewhat similar to acronyms, although it isn’t an alphabet based language.

For example, Peking (or Beijing) University is known as Beijing Daxue. To make it an “acronym,” its name is shortened to Bei Da.