ASLS, not ASSoL…

« previous post | next post »

Apparently I wasn't the only one to be taken aback by the Antonin Scalia School of Law — see Jacob Gershman, "George Mason Tinkers With Name of Scalia Law School to Avoid Awkward Acronym", WSJ 4/5/2016:

Days after George Mason University's law school announced that it was renaming itself after Justice Antonin Scalia, the school is slightly adjusting what it's calling itself — thanks to unforeseen and unfortunate wordplay.

The name, officially, remains "The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University" in honor of the late justice who died in February. But on its website and marketing materials, the name now reads: "The Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University".

That's no accident.

The first five words of the "School of Law" version form an acronym that has a phonetic resemblance to a vulgarity, a source of amusement for some bloggers and tweeters and a source of non-amusement for George Mason's administration, which agreed to rename itself after Justice Scalia at the request of an anonymous donor who pledged $20 million.

A tentative but not finalized decision was made to nip the name-needling in the bud and rearrange the words, a person familiar with the school's internal discussions told Law Blog. A school spokesman declined to comment.



24 Comments

  1. Chris C. said,

    April 5, 2016 @ 6:01 pm

    This reminds me of what happened with the proposed new arena for the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. Until the architectural renderings were posted online for comment, the designers somehow entirely failed to notice that it looked exactly like a gargantuan toilet.

    I note the new abbreviation could easily be pronounced "Assless", which is, I suppose, an improvement.

  2. Viseguy said,

    April 5, 2016 @ 7:44 pm

    "ASLS" is hardly better, is it? The plural of "ASSoL".

  3. Ari Corcoran said,

    April 5, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

    It's wonderful to see tertiary institutions stuff things up. In the late 1980s the Darwin Community College in the Northern Territory, in the process of transitioning to an independent university, attached itself for some arcane reason to the University of Queensland. It was some weeks, and not until assigned to a graphic artist, that the original name, College of the University of the Northern Territory, was deemed inappropriate. It is finally became the Charles Darwin University.

  4. Rubrick said,

    April 5, 2016 @ 11:56 pm

    As someone who habitually tries to pronounce any series of initials I come across, I find the "unforeseen" aspect of this blunder flabbergasting.

  5. maidhc said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 12:43 am

    The male faculty members will no doubt be known as ASLS chaps.

  6. Jonathan O'Connor said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 4:14 am

    In Ireland we have many institutes of technology, with acronyms mostly ending in IT. For instance, DIT is Dublin Institute of Technolgy. Waterford has its WIT, and thankfully Galway IT also has a campus in Mayo, so they are known as GMIT instead of GIT, which is a shortening of the common Irish insult eejit.

    Fortunately, the powers that be at the IT in Tallaght were aware of the amusement their acronym would cause, and thus the official name of the college is Institute of Technology Tallaght.

  7. Stephen Anderson said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 7:39 am

    Within our field, I understand that at one point a certain organization was to be named the "Association for the Study of the History Of the Language Sciences" until something similar was noted.

  8. C said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 8:23 am

    The University of Bristol music society positively embraces BUMS, by using the less proper name of the institution, Bristol University, to make its acronym.

  9. cs said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 8:45 am

    The name, officially, remains "The Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University"….The first five words of the "School of Law" version form an acronym that has a phonetic resemblance to a vulgarity

    I can see people reading this article going "TASSO? What is a tasso?"

  10. BM said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 8:58 am

    In the late '90s the Australian Tax Office looked at calculating assumed tax debts for some companies. It was referred to as the Companies Unpaid Notional Tax until…

  11. Nancy Friedman said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 9:37 am

    Of course, School Of Law can be reduced to another vulgar acronym ("shit out of luck").

  12. J. W. Brewer said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 10:46 am

    I am advised by a mutual acquaintance that this U.K. life peer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Armstrong,_Baron_Armstrong_of_Ilminster, whose full title is "Baron Armstrong of Ilminster, of Ashill in the County of Somerset," was initially going to be simply Lord Armstrong of Ashill, before someone thought better of it.

  13. EricF said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 12:41 pm

    @cs
    Take it to its logical conclusion: TASSOLAGMU (with an accent on the "moo"). Much better.

  14. Carrington Dixon said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 1:40 pm

    According to rumor, the (US) Army Security Agency (ASA) was originally to have been called the Army Security Service.

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 1:54 pm

    Jonathan O'Connor: So is the Irish English insult "git" pronounced differently from the British English insult "git", which is a variant of "get", a brat or bastard?

  16. Kapitano said,

    April 6, 2016 @ 3:01 pm

    My local technical college considered changing it's name, and one staff member jokingly suggested "South Hampshire Institute of Technology". But the higher-ups didn't understand it was a joke, and the suggester didn't want to annoy them by pointing it out.

    So Highbury College almost did become the S.H.I.T, until someone realised, and the whole renaming idea quietly dropped.

  17. Rodger C said,

    April 7, 2016 @ 6:52 am

    The School of Fine Arts at Indiana University was, I think, briefly renamed Fine Arts, Radio and Television.

  18. Jonathan O'Connor said,

    April 7, 2016 @ 7:21 am

    @Jerry Friedman: We pronounce "git" with a hard g, but "eejit" is with a soft "g". I always presumed that "git" was a shortening of "eejit", but maybe it's borrowed from British English.

  19. Brett said,

    April 7, 2016 @ 8:35 am

    @Roger C: I find that hard to believe, since the "SoFA" acronym for the School of Fine Arts is so ingrained in Bloomington culture. First of all, "SoFA" is a strong brand; the name of the school is rarely spelled out. Second, in light of how well known the "SoFA" acronym is, it would be hard to imagine nobody thinking to sound out the new acronym.

  20. mollymooly said,

    April 7, 2016 @ 11:59 am

    AFAIK "eejit" [from "idiot"] is unrelated to "git" [from "get"]. However, the hybrid form "eegit" with a hard /g/ does exist. I can't say how common it is: I've heard it occasionally, but Googling will turn up many false positives from eejits who are simply misspelling "eejit".

  21. DWalker said,

    April 8, 2016 @ 1:21 pm

    "I am advised by a mutual acquaintance that this U.K. life peer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Armstrong,_Baron_Armstrong_of_Ilminster, whose full title is "Baron Armstrong of Ilminster, of Ashill in the County of Somerset," was initially going to be simply Lord Armstrong of Ashill, before someone thought better of it."

    I don't get it.

  22. Xtifr said,

    April 8, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

    In California, we have two adjacent towns, Berkeley and Kensington. Kensington is home to a church named the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley, despite the fact that it's not in Berkeley. I don't know for sure, but I have always suspected they chose that name to avoid an unfortunate acronym.

  23. Coby Lubliner said,

    April 9, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

    Xtifr: The FUCB was originally in Berkeley, at a location that is now a part of the Berkeley campus, but the name was wisely kept when the church moved to Kensington.

  24. Nathalie said,

    April 10, 2016 @ 8:32 am

    Xtifr and Coby, my mom used to go to that church and as a teenager I thought "FUCB" was pretty funny. Unfortunately at some point they changed the name to Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley.

RSS feed for comments on this post