When CARLY is not Carly

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Rebecca Ballhaus, "CARLY, not Carly, Made This Popular Carly Fiorina Video", WSJ 9/14/2015:

A new video in which Carly Fiorina embraces her age and her gender has drawn wide attention, and was praised by a prominent blogger as one of the best spots of the 2016 race so far. But in a wrinkle fitting this modern campaign age, Ms. Fiorina’s campaign had nothing to do with it.

The new video opens by telling viewers it’s a “message from Carly.” It features a clip of the former business executive addressing a cheering crowd as she rebuts disparaging comments from GOP frontrunner Donald Trump about her looks.  “This is the face of a 61-year-old woman. I am proud of every year and every wrinkle,” Ms. Fiorina says in the video, shot last week at a speech in Phoenix. Interspersed are pictures of other women, young and old.

The video beckons viewers to “join us” at “www.CARLYforAmerica.com,” and closes with the words “CARLY for AMERICA” across the screen.

The twist: The maker of the video, “CARLY for America,” isn’t the Fiorina campaign, which is called “Carly for President.” CARLY for America is instead a pro-Fiorina super PAC formally known as Conservative, Authentic, Responsive Leadership for You and for America. The super PAC adopted the acronym earlier this year after the Federal Election Commission said it wasn’t allowed to explicitly include Ms. Fiorina’s name.

So "CARLY for America" is "Conservative, Authentic, Responsive Leadership for You and for America", not "Carly for America".

This trick is too much fun to leave to Ms. Fiorina alone. What should "JEB! for America", "TRUMP for America", "HILLARY for America", etc., stand for? We need a list of politically evocative adjectives and nouns, organized by initial letters, and a set of expandable syntactic templates, like MODIFIER* NOUN (PREPOSITION ADJECTIVE* NOUN)*, and …

Maybe some branding company is already on the case?




  1. Ralph Hickok said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:22 am

    Too bad Jeb's middle name isn't Andrew instead of Ellis. He could be "JAB! Just Another Bush!"

  2. Theophylact said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:47 am

    That Really Unpleasant Media Personality?

  3. Yuval! said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:47 am

    As someone not living in the States and a little behind on memes and campaign subtleties, could someone please explain the exclamation point? I think it just started appearing here ubiquitously with no explicit justification.

  4. David L said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:54 am

    Can A Renowned Surgeon Own (the) Nomination?

  5. peter siegelman said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 9:13 am

    Hah! I'm Literally Laughing At Republicans' Yearning for America

  6. Nancy Friedman said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 9:36 am

    Yuval: The patently silly exclamation point appears in Jeb Bush's campaign logo: https://jeb2016.com/?lang=en
    It's hard to resist making it a permanent affix to Jeb's name.

  7. Adrian Morgan said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 9:45 am

    According to the Cyborg Name Decoder,* TRUMP stands for Transforming Robotic Unit Manufactured for Peacekeeping.

    Um, nope. Fail.

    * Yes, it's still online, yes, it's an outstanding example of applied linguistics, and yes, you want to Google it right now if you've never seen it.

    [(myl) And Hillary is "Humanoid Intended for Learning, Logical Assassination and Rational Yelling"; JEB is "Journeying Electronic Being"; Carly is "Cybernetic Artificial Replicant Limited to Yelling"; Walker is "Wireless Artificial Lifeform Keen on Efficient Repair"; etc. None of these are really suitable.]

  8. Mara K said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 9:59 am

    @Ralph: Just Extra Bush?

  9. Yuval said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 10:02 am

    Ah. Thanks.

  10. Rubrick said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 2:32 pm

    Hey, a Lore Sjöberg thing got a call-out here from someone other than me! Groovy!

  11. D.O. said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

    More serious post would be about why some politicians adopt their first name as a one-word campaign identifier (Hillary, Jeb — it s a nickname, but adopted as the first name) and others stick with the last one (Trump, Walker, Rubio). Does it depend on how well known the politician in question is, that is a more widely known politician tends to stick with the first name and less known with the last? If so, touting "CARLY/Carly" is not very productive.

  12. Michael Grutchfield said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 4:22 pm

    @DO: in the cases of Clinton and Bush, I think adopting the first name is intended to differentiate them from previous dynastic Presidents, as "W" was meant to do with George II. In Trump's case, I think he's deliberately moving away from his popular moniker "The Donald" in order to appear more Presidential.

  13. Coby Lubliner said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

    Bring Economic Revolution to National and International Elites

  14. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

    The use of exclamation points in this context is not new. I was informed circa 1990 by a fellow who'd grown up in Illinois that the Hon. Abner Mikva (later a federal judge and, after retiring from the bench, a senior figure in the Clinton administration) used "Mikva!" for buttons/posters/etc. in one of his 1970's campaigns for Congress, or perhaps the state legislature before that. This struck my informant as reminiscent of the tendency to use exclamation marks in the titles of Broadway musicals, which apparently goes back to at least "Oklahoma!" as discussed here: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/theater-arts/rotten-broadway-cue-exclamation-point-article-1.2158653

  15. Rebecca said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 5:58 pm

    That Really Uninformed Mop-Pate

  16. David Morris said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 6:37 pm

    How is using 'CARLY' *not* explicitly using Ms Fiorina's name? Rendering a name in all caps doesn't change it into another name.

  17. GeorgeW said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

    Truly Repulsive Uninformed Megalomaniacal Prick.

  18. Bloix said,

    September 15, 2015 @ 8:03 pm

    It is not explicitly using her name because who's gonna say different, you and whose army? For all intents and purposes the FEC doesn't exist, see


    and anyway the worst it would do even if it were working would be to impose a fine maybe five or six years after the election when CARLY won't be around to pay it.

  19. John Walden said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 2:15 am

    What if "TRUMP FOR AMERICA!" were an imperative, an exhortation?

  20. L said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 9:02 am

    "I think he's deliberately moving away from his popular moniker "The Donald" in order to appear more Presidential."

    I think that's the only thing he's doing to appear more presidential.

  21. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 10:22 am

    The sort of "backronym" exemplified by the song that goes "M is for the million things she gave me" and so on through other letters until "Put them all together, they spell MOTHER" is reasonably old. (The internet says that song was composed in 1915.)* Although having the words constitute a coherent NP or other syntactic unit I guess requires a little more work, and may have arisen later? Datapoint: the earliest hit I can find in a quick glance at google books for "port out, starboard home" as folk-etymology for "posh" is on the eve of WW2.

    *Modified in the 1970's in Ray Wylie Hubbard's immortal "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother" to go, e.g. "M is for the mudflaps that she gave me for my pickup."

  22. Ralph Hickok said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 11:54 am

    @J. W. Brewer:
    Doesn't it go back to acrostic verse, which is at least as old as the Bible? (E.g., Proverbs 31:10-31.

  23. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

    There's also this, which may be older than Prov 31 and is more sophisticated (since it's not just "reciting the abc's"): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_Theodicy.

    But I expect those were almost in-jokes for the small fraction of the population that was literate — usage in popular song etc requires mass literacy. And it feels like there's a difference between starting with an intended "secret message" and then artfully selecting the verse-initial words that will convey it and the reverse-engineering required for a backronym.

  24. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 16, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

    back to the exclamation points, I've seen a few suggestions on the internet that Gov. Bush is branding himself to Hispanic voters as ¡Jeb! But I can't tell if these are jokes or legit/campaign-approved.

  25. CARLY not Carly | Dude, please said,

    September 20, 2015 @ 7:51 pm

    […] http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=21238 […]

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