Sunday 23 April 2017

Brussels bubble: Best alphabet soup ever?

Today, 23 April 2017, is the annual World Book Day, the event of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as  presented by Wikipedia.

With readers and writers in mind, let us remember the “Brussels style guide” in 24 EU languages, officially the Interinstitutional style guide, as a tool to make sense of the mythological Tower of Babel for those who write for the European Union in a professional capacity.

The Brussels bubble can be seen as an isolated expat community (Euractiv), be run as an insider section (Politico), or derided as a world apart from the EU’s citizens (Open Democracy), often in the same vein as Washington DC has been pictured at least since Mark Twain, up to and including the Trump presidential campaign.

Brussels bubblese

If the Brussels bubble is routinely accused of being an incomprehensible alphabet soup kitchen, let us turn to a prime example of the language of the bubble, Brussels bubblese, an exquisite compilation of abbreviations and acronyms: the (133 pages) Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation 2017.

On page 8 of the Rolling Plan, you find the following expression of gratitude:

The Commission would like to thank all Members of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation for their active collaboration and for making this document possible: the EU Member States, EFTA States, standard setting organisations (ETSI, CEN, CENELEC, ISO, IEEE, IEC, ITU, OMG, IETF/IAB, OASIS, Ecma, W3C/ERCIM, UN/CEFACT), industry associations (Business Europe, Cable Europe, Digital Europe, ECIS, ETNO, EBU, EuroISPA, SBS, OFE, Orgalime) and stakeholder associations (AGE, ANEC, ECOS, EDF, ETUC).

You might need the antidote offered by Annex III: Terms, definitions and abbreviations (from page 131), where some of the abbreviations and acronyms are explained.


I cannot be sure that this is is the best alphabet soup ever presented in Brussels bubblese, but I challenge you to bring forward more eminent examples.

Ralf Grahn

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