Marine; soldier = 'naval seaman'; his-story = 'history focused on men'; etc.

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Fri Oct 15 21:44:13 UTC 2010

Looking at the article, it definitely seems some of the usages are based in
ignorance. The most striking example I see of this lack of background in the
subject is on p. 52:

"The role of these 'Negroes' in the fateful war as narrated by Michener in
minimal. In general, 'Negroes' are confined either to the role of graveyard
keepers, or are destined to die very early. In contrast, heroic acts of
white Marines and the men of the Air Force are narrated with vigor."

Of course, blacks were almost entirely excluded from the Marines and the
Navy in WWII in WWII. Unlike the Army and the Army Air Forces, the Navy and
the Marine Corps did not, with some few exceptions, allow African Americans
to serve. The only blacks that would be found would be a few in service
positions like grave diggers or galley stewards. So of course Michener's
narration would reflect this. A Lit Crit academic from India is not likely
to know such things. The racial arguments in the article are probably still
valid, but they need to be framed differently. The article makes it sound as
if Michener is the one excluding blacks and not government policy.

I don't want to be too critical because it looks like there is some good
stuff in the article, but it sure could have used someone with a smattering
of background in military history on the peer review committee.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2010 5:09 PM
Subject: Re: Marine; soldier = 'naval seaman'; his-story = 'history focused
on men'; etc.

My guess is that the misuse of _soldier_ and _Marine_ comes from the fact
that "sailor" implies somebody who works on a ship (few of Michener's
sailors do so) and who may not be in the military.  A "soldier," however, is
in the military and is stereotypically on land. A "Marine," as we have
noticed before, is popularly regarded as a kind of "soldier," perhaps
(correctly, of course) with naval associations.

Thus Michener's characters, other than (female) Navy nurses, are
transmogrified into "soldiers" and "Marines."

Of course the phrases "naval personnel" and "navy men" are available, but
the writer chooses not use them and the editors choose not to supply them.
Whether this setms from sheer ignorance or from some semantical dynamic
is impossible to judge. But the words mean in context what they mean in

On Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Marine; soldier = 'naval seaman'; his-story = 'history
> focused on
>              men'; etc.
> Naturally the source is once again recent lit crit.
> The academic author taught in India. I don't know if the following usages
> are typical of formal Indian English. The writer discusses in a
> professional
> journal, published at Wesleyan U., James A.Michener's _Tales of the South
> Pacific _ (1947).  Having just reread the book, I can assure you that all
> major characters belong to the U.S. Navy:
> 2002 Madhumalati Adhikari in _History and Theory_ XLI 46: Michener's
> _Tales_
> focuses on. . . the Marines stationed on the islands of the South Pacific.
> 52: The American officers and soldiers . . . have been forced to try to
> live
> in this war-torn area.  53: [T]he Marines in the tales....
> P. 52: "In Michener's 'his story,' Tony Fry becomes a hero."
> Also, _rape_ = 'serious distortion.'
> P. 44: "Plausible documents need to be created to bridge evident gaps [in
> historical records]. This is not a rape of history but a generous act to
> give credibility and continuity to it." [If "document" means what it
> usually
> means, this statement is worth pondering; but the context suggests it
> may instead mean 'literary works'.]
> Not in OED is _emplotment_ 'literary plotting; placement in a literary
> plot":
> P. 46: "The discovery and emplotment of this new truth becomes an
> inspiration to act and think differently."
> Before her retirement in 2003, Prof. Adhikari taught in the Department of
> Post-Graduate Studies and Research in English of Jabalpur University. She
> is
> the author of nearly forty professional articles.
> JL
>  --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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