matt (hbergeronx) wrote,

on obscure vocabulary learned

Poll #1031585 Quango?

What is a quango?

A beloved character on the comic strip "Diesel Sweeties"
Thomas the Tank Engine's mortal enemy
An obscure british acronym
A new form of condensed quark matter highlighted in this month's "New Scientist"

It seems odd how a term sometimes gets used in the Economist. This week, in two separate articles, the term "quango" is used. I sometimes wonder about their editorial meetings- do they wind up hearing a term, and then think, "Hey, that's a cool word, I should try and incorporate it in an article!"

I'm all for the colloquial usages. I often like to say that one of the reason I've been a subscriber for the past few years is ever since I read an editorial explaining what an SUV is to the British public, calling it a "tarted-up lorry".

But: quango? WTF!

Me: What's a quango?
Ian: Quasi Non Governmental Organization
Me: OK, but what is that?
Ian: It's an organization that's independent, but set up by the government to study something or another, like why the trains are not running on time.
Me: So, it's not like the Red Cross?
Ian: No, that's more of an NGO.
Me: But not the RAND company, either?
Ian: umm, no.
Me: And it's not like Fannie Mae?
Ian: are they government employees?
Me: no.
Ian: then... no. I don't think so.
Me: Ok, so the quasi- really applies to the N part, then, because they're government employees, but independent?
Ian: ummm... no, it more applies to the NG part.
Me: ...

update 2
me: (catches breath) Apparently, Wikipedia cites as an example of a quango the "Meat Hygiene Service".
Ian: ...
me: is it possible that there are people in Britain that would not find that to be a double entendre?
me: "Sorry- that meat's not hygienic"
Ian: "Here, let me clean that off for you..."

update 3, twenty minutes later
Ian: (snickers)
me: (dies laughing)
Tags: language

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