Friday, 24 January 2014


Youngsters think using abbreviations and acronyms is a concept that arose with texting and emailing.  But we oldies know it's been going on since the War.  SWALK (Sealed with a loving kiss) was a popular acronym put on envelopes from the Front.  And there were plenty more where that came from.  Some of them suitable for a child-friendly blog and some decidedly inappropriate.  Among the milder ones were....

FRANCE: Friendship Remains And Never Can End
ITALY: I Trust And Love You
HOLLAND: Hope Our Love Lasts And Never Dies
MALAYA: My Ardent Lips Await Your Arrival
BURMA: Be Undressed/Upstairs Ready My Angel

ENGLAND and LOWESTOFT will have to be left to your imagination (or you can Google them!)

Perhaps as well known as SWALK was NORWICH: (k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home.

I'm not sure how the parents of the girls back home reacted to the stronger ones but the girls themselves were happy to use acronyms when writing back.  Perhaps the best know was CHINA: Come Home I’m Naked Already and the unmarried soldiers must have dreaded seeing CHIP - Come Home I'm Pregnant!

So we know it went back to the 1930s (and probably the previous War as well).  But it’s actually been going on for two thousand years.  In Roman times when a Roman wrote to his friend, it was traditional to begin a letter along the lines of  ‘I hope you’re well, I’m fine.’   But the Romans got bored with writing "Si vales bene est, ego quidem valeo" (If you’re well, that’s good—all’s well with me) all the time and abbreviated it to SVBEEQV.

I wonder if the Ancient Egyptians had something like as an abbreviation for 'It's dangerous where you are going - watch out for snakes, falling masonry, and ropes lying about...'


  1. Funny blog, this one. Got me laughing and trying to remember if I ever knew any of those acronyms, aside from SWAK that I was never bold enough to use, but wait a minute, I don't think I ever wrote to someone to whom SWAK would have been appreciated. Think I've missed out. Well, texting has ARRIVED, and with it the charming offerings of a blogger who calls himself Scriptor Senex, and to him, I say thank you and add SWAK. LOL. Take care, McGregor

  2. Fascinating! I don't think I'd better google these at work. ;-)

  3. I didn't know of SWALK, but I knew of SWAK, and I have never heard of the others but they are quite clever and I really like them.

  4. Well well well. The only one I knew was SWALK.

  5. Fascinating indeed! I guess it did not take humans long to recognize the advantage of acronyms once they started using written language that was based on single letters. It is just typical for the Romans and their way of doing things efficiently to use many acronyms.
    RSVP and similar acronyms were widely in use in the 18th and 19th century, and nobody even dreamed of emails back then.

  6. I found these quite interesting.....VERY interesting. Trust you CJ to keep me informed....thanks.
    I was only aware of SWAK which I used on numerous occasions while sealing love letters to my boyfriends when I was a younger lass.

  7. I never heard of any of these wartime acronyms until just recently - and I don't remember in which context it was that I did come across it. Not very surprising I suppose since English is not even my first language. I have come across some abbreviations on my own old early 20th century family postcards, though. Not easy to know which ones may be more commonly used vs just in a close circle of family or friends.

  8. Morse code had lots of abbreviations and acronyms, too. These kids texting aren't doing anything new.

  9. Well my education has been sadly neglected! I only knew about SWALK and ITALY and we thought we were so adventurous to do that.

  10. I agree, fascinating. Some I'd heard of, but others are new to me. A charming custom, predating the immediacy of the cell phone text. Though probably some of the abbreviations could be used on an I-Phone too, I suppose.

    Author Beverly Nicholls said he always put NWH as part of his return addresses -- Nothing Wrong Here -- so people wouldn't be afraid the letter contained bad news.


  11. I never knew any of those! (Plus I'm a lousy texter...never got the lingo down!) But as always I learned a few things here and now I'm going to have to check out my Mom's love letters from Dad back in WWII! It's also fun to realize that people aren't that different through the ages. I just had a visual of Moses texting the 10 that would be interesting! Ha! Have a great week John!

  12. Goodness, I never knew there were all those ... I'd almost think you had a misspent youth :)

  13. I LOVE this!
    I knew about SWALK and HOLLAND but BURMA and NORWICH were (hilarious) news to me - and as someone who collects old postcards I shall now be sifting through all of them looking for some of these and other acronyms, hehe.

    1. The only one I have found on old postcards so far is CSL - Can't stop laughing. But I keep looking and hoping for a better one.


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