The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
The University of Arizona doesn’t want to be referred to as the “UA” anymore.
I get it. When I was 14 I told everybody to stop calling me “Booger” because by then the golden birthmark under my right nostril had faded and there was nothing to see here anymore, so move along.
We all enjoy a little change now and then. It’s a new day.
This week the UA announced to its staff, faculty, alums and all who Google, that the UA was henceforth, and forthwith, to be referred to as ... drumroll ...“UArizona.”
A Facebook friend summed it up neatly. “Ukidding, right?
Nope. UArizona isn’t kidding.
We are being asked to give up our beloved, succinct, easy-to-pronounce and virtually melodic “UA,” pronounced yoo-ay, for yoo-ar-uh-zoh-nuh, a lumbering compound of discordant syllables that rivals “U-Like-Buffet” for its distinctive rustic, yet primitive charm and dubious creativity.
As Lurlene, known for her sterling diction, said to me last night at the Arroyo Cafe, “There are too many speed bumps in that word for any human tongue to stumble over.”
For me, UArizona only works when I imagine Robert DeNiro delivering the line with a threatening scowl. “You Arizona? Are you looking at me? You Arizona?” Our school nickname sounds hostile.
Why isn’t it U-space-Arizona? Or U-Arizona with a dash?
According to Professor Donna LaDonna Shmertz, UArizona vice president for conscious pottery and synchronicity studies, told me it’s a cost-cutting measure.
“We’re saving a fortune eliminating that blank space. And by not using a dash, it’s a windfall. Last year, dashes cost us $435,798.45 in printer ink. We’re seeing such dramatic savings next year we’re thinking of eliminating all prepositions and semicolons from all official UArizona correspondence.”
This week as I was searching for a parking space at UArizona I cursed when the university lot located at Hell and Gone, just north of Pluto, was full. I muttered, “@#!UA parking!” In what world would I, or any soul have ever muttered, “@#! UArizona parking!”?
I was about to find out because I was there to talk to the visionary responsible for the memo of mandatory etymological evolution that had rocked the academic world, UArizona vice president for innovative optimization and bureaucratic crowning achievements, professor of linguistic engineering Dr. Paul E. Glott. “Vice President Glott, long before you came to the UA-”
“Long before you came to the UArizona—do you hear how awkward that sounds?”
“Sounds fine to me.”
“Really? UArizona. Ugh. You Jane. Me Tarzan. UArizona.”
“But I’m not Jane.”
“Never mind. Long before you came to the UArizona it says here on your resume you began your career at U-Haul-”
“The fools! The U-Haul people were into dashes. Not me. Dashes are so yesterday. I had just graduated from Berkeley with a Bachelors in jargonography and a minor in flummery studies. Within the year I had moved on to the University of Buttinski, the very same university that, today, thanks to my lingual innovation, is known throughout the world as UButtinksi.”
“Mmm. Professor Glott, are there others example of your work we might know?”
“Yes. ‘U-Break-U-Pay’ is my best known work.”
“Why fix ‘UA’, Vice President Glott?”
“That’s VPresident Glott.”
“VPresident Glott, why fix ‘UA’?”
“We had to! Whenever you typed ‘UA’ into the Google search engine thing-a-ma-hooz-itz you came up with results like ‘Under Atlantis,’ ‘Ukeleles Anonymous,’ ‘Unhappy Airlines,’ ‘Untied Appliances,’ ‘Union of Amoeba,’ ‘Unctious Aborigines’…
“‘Uber alles,’ ‘Upper Antilles,’ ‘Unneccessary Armadillos,’ ‘Unclean Abominations’ and ‘Ugly Azerbaijanis’. To name a few. “
“So it’s all about optimizing your position online?”
“You bet. ‘UArizona’ will markedly improve our search engine status. If our school was called the University of Aardvark or the University of the American Automobile Association we wouldn’t have this challenge.”
Will it be difficult to persuade thousands of people to give up their UA habit? Trading in two succinct syllables for five meandering syllables will require practice. I asked Glott if implementing such a change was daunting and if they plan to use shock collars again.
“Ever consider a U-turn?”
“Not at all. Our staff and faculty are amazing. I can tell you this about the UArizona. Our Wildcats know how to bear down. Or as I like to say, ‘BDown.’”
“Our next jargonographic reform. As in, ‘BDown, UArizona, BDown!’ I think it’s stirring.”
Note: In a follow-up to this story, we learned last night UArizona President Robert Robbins has reportedly paid a modest price for devoting hours to practicing the new nickname for the Old Pueblo’s favorite university. His herniated uvula is doing fine. Thanks for asking. Go, Cats. Go, UA.