News and events

Too cutesy by half

If you were wondering (because I was), about the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae names that are way too cutesy to be companies managing $6 trillion in funds… turns out they are actually the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and the Federal National Mortgage Association respectively.

There’s also:

  • Farmer Mac (the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation)
  • Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association)
  • Sallie Mae (SLM Corporation, formerly the Student Loan Marketing Association)
  • and the latest one in trouble, IndyMac (Independent National Mortgage Corporation)

Hmm. It seems our friends across the pond have a liking for giving gigantic monolithic corporations cutesy names.

Which is fair enough. Though you know where you are with an acronym like NAB.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “Too cutesy by half”

Well it’s not like we here in Australia call corporations by any cutsie names like “Auntie” or anything. Why we’d never do anything like that.

In Australia, we do have these habits tho of saying stuff like ‘Aussie’ ‘firey’ ‘smoko’ ‘servo’ ‘arvo’ ‘footy’ ‘kinda’ ‘tradie’ ‘ambo’ ‘postie’ etc. etc. Which are probably seen as cutesy overseas.

i hate the word “fanny” … it just sounds so wrong! and the tourists that come over with their bum bags and call them “fanny packs” … EW!

My favourite cute acronym is ACTION – the ACT Internal Omnibus Network. As you can guess, it was anything but …

Australian English is indeed loaded with many cutsy shortened words that I just don’t say. I feel as if I almost speak too properly sometimes. I cannot bring myself to say “brekkie”, “pressie”, or “postie”. In the USA these words would not be understood said on their own. I prefer breakfast, present/gift and mailman respectively.

The word fanny has no bad or vulgar connotations in American English. It is an old fashoned womans name. It is also an ultra polite and quaint word for a woman’s butt. It is used by older people who think the words butt, ass, rear end, and tush would be too crude to use.

Keep in mind that Fanny Mae was set up by FDR in the great depression, some 76 years ago. Cutesie names would have not seened out of place then. Three letter acronyms would have been.

Also keep in mind that the education system in the USA is abysmal, between home schooling, religious schools, and lacklustre public schools. Acronyms, even now, are harder to relate to when a much larger proportion of the population there is illiterate, and certainly would have been more of an issue in the 30s.

When Freddie Mac was set up in the 70s, they merely continued on with the tradition.

Heck, a more recent example of dumbing down important stuff with cutesie names is a piece of federal legislation that they passed early in GWB’s tenure. The “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” is more commonly known as the USA PATRIOT Act.

but NAB is now nab…

nab (nb)
tr.v. nabbed, nabร‚ยทbing, nabs Informal
1. To seize (a fugitive or wrongdoer); arrest.
2. To grab; snatch.

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