For several years now (as long as I've paid attention) almost every ad or commercial for a bank or credit union says they are Member FDIC or Member NCUA. Where is the of? Why are these not Member of FDIC or Member of NCUA?

I've never heard somebody use the term member without of or some comparable preposition.

Tom, are you member Costco? Yes Bill, I am member Costco.

I've never seen an instance of this. What gives?

  • I suspect that, in part, if the announcer says "Member of FDIC" too rapidly then it becomes hard to distinguish the individual letters of "FDIC". – Hot Licks Sep 22 '15 at 12:54
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    I've always mentally parsed this as Member, FDIC, in the vein of {Role}, {Organization} – hBy2Py Sep 22 '15 at 13:59
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    Isn't this because Member FDIC (or Fellow Royal Society, or Member IEEE, for example) is a professional styling? Whereas "member of Costco" is just like "employee of X"? – HorusKol Sep 23 '15 at 2:10
  • @HorusKol Regarding the Costco example, they are a club store type retailer, in that one must pay a "membership" fee to be allowed to shop at Costco, and are therefore (as commonly referred to in in-store and promotional literature) a member. I could substitute the Costco example with the use "Member of the Adams County Fish and Game Club" as a comparable representation of my understanding. – Trevor D Sep 23 '15 at 2:19
  • Ah, I didn't realise that Costco apply "member" to their customers - there are a number of retailers out there that use "member" or "partner" or other word for "employee" - still, that does strengthen the argument that "member of Costco" is not professional title, and so is not styled like Member FDIC, etc. – HorusKol Sep 23 '15 at 23:10

This "Member FDIC" is simply the shortest way allowable by law for a banking institution to indicate its affiliation with that organization. According to the relevant regulation:

328.3(1) Optional short title and symbol. The short title "Member of FDIC" or "Member FDIC," or a reproduction of the symbol of the Corporation (as described in ยง 328.1(b)), may be used by insured depository institutions at their option as the official advertising statement.

It is worth noting that legal regulatory language, especially in advertising, may be devised by organizations without reference to what may be customary for those businesses to use in communications. In other words, the whole issue stands at a remove from English proper. Note that the FDIC itself doesn't care whether the institution uses of in the construction.

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In terms of grammatical justification, I believe it is a case of colon usage in lists, with a list of one (ie "Member: FDIC").

As far as why bother, a longer ad is a more expensive ad. When it comes to the legally required rhetoric especially, every fraction of a second shaved is worth the effort. It's given us those delightfully and craftfully edited legalese sentences that sound like how one might try to pronounce a paragraph typed without a space bar.

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  • Except that, in television advertising, slots are sold in increments of 15 seconds (15, 30, 45, 60...). So, omitting the word "of" isn't going to save you 15 seconds. If it's any cost-based thing, perhaps the argument should be charging the voice actor one less word. – Supuhstar Sep 22 '15 at 14:26
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    @Supuhstar If you are paying $100,000 for a 30 second spot, you want every second to be for your message, not for legal requirements. Any required information will be made to take up the absolute minimum time regardless of how much time the spot is. – JPhi1618 Sep 22 '15 at 14:33
  • +1 for the description "without a spacebar" "MemberFINRASIPC.Commentsmadeonthisprogramdonotconstitutefinancialadvice..." – Monty Harder Sep 22 '15 at 20:37
  • This explains why they might do it in TV/radio ads (similar to the way drug ads zip through all the side effects), but they also do it in printed publications. – Barmar Sep 28 '15 at 19:09
  • Possible example of the act being father to the policy? One form of media does it for a very specific reason, and eventually the others do so simply because "That's how it's done." – Axalon57 Oct 2 '15 at 17:16

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