[Ads-l] G.I.

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Dec 10 12:40:01 UTC 2015

In my Army years (which being in the late-80s are somewhat later than Wilson's) I did hear "government issue" in use, not officially, but casually among soldiers, usually to provide jocular emphasis, such as in phrases like "don't forget to pack four pair of government-issue socks."

But these uses are just as likely to stem from a misanalysis of G.I. as they are to be its origin.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Wilson Gray
Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2015 1:47 AM
Subject: Re: G.I.

On Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 7:43 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:

> apparently an abbreviation of Government Issue

In my Army years, I never heard *anything* referred to as either "government issue," an  etymology that I've been familiar with since I learned to read, or as "general issue," which is new to me, as of now.
Since a standard "GI can" is definitely made of galvanized metal, the GI could very well stand for "galvanized iron."

FWIW, I couldn't find any reason to believe that "GI" in any of its uses is from "government/general issue"when I was a GI and I don't have any reason to believe it, now. Perhaps Dave could show me the error in my thinking, but nothing else will.

You see, Wilson, what you have failed to grasp is that both "general issue"
and "government issue" were once in common use by all enlisted personnel - or should that be, "enlisted human resources"? - throughout the military, until ca. 19--. But these terms have since fallen so completely out of use, leaving behind only the term, _GI_ that, even as far back as the late '50's and early '60's, when you were "nervous in the service," these terms lived on only in the fading memories of a few undying old soldiers in the Old Soldiers' Home in Somewhere, USA.

Well, that's not impossible. After all, according to the New Yorker, _boody/booty_ has its origin in standard "(pirate's) booty," as any fool can plainly see. Cf. e.g. the brand-name, "My Sister's Booty." That would be simply disgusting and not just a cute pun, otherwise.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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