NEWSPAPER copy editors aren't the only ones who fret about the proper name for a political institution. Sometimes it's the people who inhabit them, too.
As of Nov. 1, the treaty that expanded the powers and functions of the European Community took effect. Remember the European Community -- the EC? It was the successor to the European Economic Community, familiarly known as the EEC (or to Americans as the Common Market). The EEC was the successor, in a fashion, to the European Coal and Steel Community, which was not familiarly known to anyone (and still exists).
The Treaty of Maastricht introduces the European Union, which adds foreign and defense policy to the old community's economic integration. It's getting so complicated even senior European officials like British Prime Minister John Major stumble over whether they're talking about the EC or the EU.
You'd think the people running the show in Brussels would understand it all. But the top officials have waffled.
The Council of Ministers, the policy-making body, referred to itself as the European Union's council. The nimble bureaucrats who operate the EC/EU have temporized, as good bureaucrats do, by calling themselves simply the "European Commission."
Meanwhile, the authoritative Economist, progressive as always, opted for EU. The equally authoritative Wall Street Journal, conservative to the last, stuck with EC.
International news agencies, which have greatest influence over American usage, are playing it safe with EC. The Sun is waiting for the dust to settle.
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THERE IT was for all the world to see -- and chuckle. The nation's LTC Republican governors, fresh from a victory in New Jersey, gathered in Phoenix this week to size up their chances in next year's elections. Behind the podium at the gathering hung a giant circular placard with a symbolic state house in the center, surrounded by the name of the group: "Republican * Governers Association *"
That is not a misprint. All the photographs from the conference of various speakers at the podium captured this classic flub. The message isn't exactly what the GOP had in mind: These guys can't spell much less govern(er).
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FAMOUS LAST words: "After next Monday [when the American Airlines' flight attendants strike was supposed to end], APFA will not stand for 'Association of Professional Flight Attendants' but will stand for 'Asking People for Applications.' "
-- Lee Miller, editor and publisher of U.S. Information, a newsletter, circulated as the "witticism of the week" to newspapers the day the strike ended in an apparent victory for the APFA.