Monday, July 25, 2011

Odd Job for Odd Linguists

Captain America is all in the news lately and I’ll admit that I’ll be waiting for the DVD if ever to catch it. However, the buzz around it got me thinking about Cap’s old nemesis, HYDRA. I was shocked to discover that HYDRA, despite its spelling, is not an acronym. I always assumed it was like S.H.I.E.L.D. and was some god-awful stretch of names to make a cool acronym. Then I was reminded of P.A.G.A.N. (People Against Goodness and Normality) from the forgettable 1980s’ Dragnet movie and one thing led to another.

I’m playing around with a new setting and I want to throw in some enigmatic cabals with weird ass names. The atmosphere I’m going for is League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Hellboy—steam-punk, Victorian Era, world-shaking cabals, etc.

It’d be easy to create a half-dozen groups with acronyms that spell out appropriate English words, but I’d like to throw in a few world-spanning evil groups. So, with that in mind, does anyone with a command of a language other than English have any suggestions? The acronym could be a word in any language, but since the target audience is English speaking, an organization whose name “coincidentally” spells an English word would be most appreciative. Perhaps K.R.A.K.E.N. is something particularly fiendish in German, Russian, or even Portugese…

If anyone has any suggestions or personal favorites, I’d love to hear them.


Taketoshi said...

how about:

La Fédération immorale des ennemies de la normalité et de la décence



(kinda like P.A.G.A.N.)

Taketoshi said...

here's a try at K.R.A.K.E.N. in German:

Kult des Richtigkeits in der Anmeldung der Kraft zur Ewige Nacht

very silly and bizarre group of emotionless techno-villains:

translates (badly) into something like "Cult for the Correctness in Application of Force for Eternal Night"

arcadian said...

My own vote would not be an acronym but a real life group the Thule Society ( see Wikipedia). The were an early 20 th century group that believed in the Aryan racial superiority myth, occultism and were the progenitors of the Nazi party. While such things may be a bit distasteful for gaming the groups Edwardian roots might fit your game and they could be the foil for many globe spanning adventures.
And nothing beats pumelling a Nazi!

PCB said...

In Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, the protagonists hear of a secret society called 'Tres'. They then give it the backronym Templi Resurgentes Equites Synarchici, meaning something like "The synarchic knights of the reborn temple". By the book's conclusion, the 'Tres' have adopted that definition as their own, as it turns out they had little idea who they were anyway.

Taketoshi said...


Anything referencing Foucault's Pendulum gets a green light in my book :)

Lord Auron said...

DOOM - The Department Of Orderly Minions - Your one-stop shop for all your minion and henchmen needs.

OWL - Organization for World Liberation

SOMA - Society Of Magnificent Adventurers

DIARRHEA - Department (of) Investigating Activities Regarding (the) Royal Highnesses' Earthly Affairs - A very sad department operating out of London...

COMPASS - Collective Of Marauders, Pirates, And Sociopathic Sailors

Anonymous said...

I suggest a language that has words you can use that are substantially like English words, and not "false friends", so that the players can still understand what the name means. This means a narrower language band (not Japanese or Chinese, not an African language, etc.) and also a narrower word selection within each.

Or ignore that and figure the players, with enough contact, will learn the words. Education!