A couple of examples of black-GI slang influenced by German

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jul 29 18:44:52 UTC 2004

On Jul 28, 2004, at 1:12 PM, James A. Landau wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: A couple of examples of black-GI slang influenced by
> German
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> In a message dated Tue, 27 Jul 2004 02:14:18 -0400,
> Wilson Gray <hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET> writes inter alia:
>>  the "Unites States Colored Troops," to revive a term
>>  from the Civil War
> In 1970 or 1971 I checked out a book from the library of Fort Myer,
> Virginia.
>  Stamped inside the front cover was the notice "For the use of colored
> troops
> at Fort Sill".  The book was "Paul Revere and the World He Lived In" by
> Esther Forbes, which had a first hardcover edition of 1942, so it
> appears that the
> expression "colored troops" (I don't remember if it were capitalized)
> was
> still in official use, at least by Army librarians, during World War
> II.
> (I remember this notice due to the irony of juxtaposing the iconic Paul
> Revere with segregated libraries.)

During the Civil War, the United States Army also had a Corps
d'Afrique. And I'll bet you thought Hitler was first to come up with
>>  Black generals
>>  finally *commanded,* instead of merely acting as the adjutants - a
>>  military term meaning approximately "manservants" - of white
>> generals.
> Are you sure you mean "adjutant" and not "aide de camp"?  "Adjutant"
> among
> other things is an official position, the chief administrative officer
> of a
> unit, and the average officer who holds such a title and position is
> too busy with
> paperwork to have time to be a general's flunky.  The duties of an
> "aide"
> however vary from general to general and frequently involves being a
> manservant.
> (A riddle I once heard:  What's the difference between an aide and a
> chief of
> staff?  The aide also fixes coffee.)
>               - James A. Landau

> You are, in fact, absolutely correct. I must admit that I meant
> neither. Rather, I was exaggerating for effect, the fact of the matter
> being that, prior to Vietnam, what few black flag-grade officers that
> there were always deputy commanders. l had in mind specifically the
> case of Air Force LtGen Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., the second black
> person to be come a general officer in the US military. His father,
> Army BrGen Benjamin Oliver Davis, was the first. He retired at that
> rank, knowing that he would never rise any higher.  As Junior rose
> through the ranks, he was continually shifted from one end of the
> earth to the other, if necessary, so that he was ever a deputy,  never
> a commander. And, of course, there was no way that he was going to get
> that fourth star without ever having truly held command. This changed
> in Vietnam. Black soldiers of whatever rank - well, they had at least
> to hold the lowest NCO rank, corporal - were, for the first time,
> finally permitted to lead white troops as well as black ones in the
> field during a time of war. Without Vietnam, there would never have
> been a Gen Colin Powell, USA, Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When
> Rev. King came out against that war, I thought that he had gone off
> the deep end. The war was none of his business. Besides, he'd never
> served in any branch of the military. What did he know! I wanted to
> shout the punch line of an old joke: "Shut up! Mr. James is robbing
> this train!"

-Wilson Gray

More information about the Ads-l mailing list