Michael Newton has called attention to this Chinese sign on Twitter:
— Michael Newton (@mikenewt) August 28, 2014
The Imgur photo was posted 9 months ago, and the associated Reddit thread does a pretty good job explaining the acronym, but — since this unpronounceable mass of majuscules has implications beyond this immediate instance — we might as well do a more systematic Language Log style reading and explication:
Běijīng Hǎidiàn Qū Rénmín Zhèngfǔ Jīguān Yòu'éryuán
Beijing Haidian District People's Government agencies kindergarten
No, BJHDQRMZFJGYEY is not their URL. This is their URL: http://www.hdzfjgyey.com/yzdh.asp
I used to see lots more of these long, breathless acronyms in China. The fact that they seem to be decreasing in number is one hopeful sign in the struggle against linguistic obscurantism in the People's Republic. Still the fact that they do persist, and even on a government sponsored sign like this one, raises significant questions:
1. For whom is the long acronym intended?
2. What purpose does it serve? Is it purely decorative? A feeble nod to cosmopolitanism?
3. Is it there to substitute for English?
4. Why do they give the capital letter of each syllable when it would be much more manageable and perhaps even more intelligible if they only included the capital letters of the beginnings of words?
If you do a Google search on "acronyms in China" (quotation marks not necessary), you will find that they are very popular, sometimes to avoid web censors, for the sake of brevity, to be fashionable or cute, and so forth. They fall into three main types: English expressions, Chinese expressions in pinyin romanization, and expressions in Chinese characters (some of the characters are dropped out — this is an extremely common way to form new words on the basis of longer terms, e.g., chéngfá jiàoyù 惩罚教育 ("punishment and education; punitive education") –> chéngjiào 惩教 ("correctional").
When all is said and done, one is left with the sinking feeling that the person(s) responsible for this acronymic monstrosity, BJHDQRMZFJGYEY, had their head in the wrong place and really had no clue about the function of acronyms in daily life.
[Hat tip to Ben Zimmer]