on the ground = 'in the world'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 19 03:12:11 UTC 2011

At 10:06 PM -0500 1/18/11, Laurence Horn wrote:
>At 8:15 PM -0500 1/18/11, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>You're undoubtedly right, but I noticed Thomson's use because within the
>>past day or so I heard a clearer ex. on CNN, which I can't find on line.
>>It seemed to compare what low-income mothers faced "on the ground" as
>>opposed to something in theory.
>Isn't this use similar to the military one (I think I've come across
>it in reports from the front in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere)
>where "the situation on the ground", in the actual battles taking
>place, is contrasted with, as you say, something in theory (or in the
>military planners' war-game scenarios).  This is, however, quite
>different from "light on the ground" meaning 'sparse'.

oops, sorry--for some reason I only saw Garson's message after I sent
this one.  Yes, "the facts on the ground" pops up even more in the
above scenarios than "the situation on the ground".  I had assumed
that this was used for other conflicts predating the current
never-ending war in the Gulf, but I don't really know.  As Garson
observes, it's used elsewhere (in the "abortion wars") to specify
what's happening in the real world, on the front lines, etc.


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