ACRONYMS. Nearly every well-known and frequently used organisation in France seems to have chosen its name, so that it can be called by an acronym. Every French person is familiar with what the body does, but has no clue what the letters stand for. Social charges must be paid to URSSAF Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d’Allocations Familiales.Not only is the name shortened, but in many cases the initials become a word in themselves. The RAC in the UK is never called the ‘Rac’. In Reims, we have CREPS ‘Creps’, which I assumed was something to do with pancakes, until I had a student who studied there and I found it stood forCentres de Ressources, d’Expertise et de Performance Sportives – a sports college! The minimum wage is always called the SMIC ‘Smick’ = salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance and the emergency ambulance service is the SAMU ‘Samu’=secours d’aide médicale d’urgence. When dealing with anything official this becomes an almost indecipherable language.At the door of our Social Security office are 4 letter boxes marked with the initials of various departments in the building. I never know into which one I must post my letter. Is it CRAM, CMPS, CAMIEG or CARSAT?


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