[Ads-l] troops

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 18 08:59:52 EDT 2016

Ambiguity? Where? "Troops" (pl.) means 'soldiers' unless context says

If the passage were about, say, "a Syrian army troop" (sing.) then it would
be ambiguous - assuming that the context meant nothing.

More interesting is that Christopher's post suggests that except for some
special rhetorical effect (and owing to inductive experience with the
media) "service people" and "service members" connote American forces only,
whereas terms like "soldiers" and "troops" do not.

Or am I living in the past?


On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 8:03 AM, Christopher Philippo <toff at mac.com> wrote:

> “Russia’s defense ministry said the United States attack had killed 62
> Syrian troops, wounded 100 more and opened the way for an Islamic State
> offensive.”
> Barnard, Anne and Mark Mazzetti. "U.S. Admits Airstrike in Syria, Meant to
> Hit ISIS, Killed Syrian Troops.” N.Y. Times. September 17, 2016.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/world/middleeast/us-airstr
> ike-syrian-troops-isis-russia.html
> "Russia’s military said it was told by the Syrian army that at least 62
> soldiers were killed in the Deir ez-Zour air raid and more than 100 wounded”
> Borger, Julian. "Russia accuses US of bombing Syrian troops and risking
> ceasefire." N.Y. Times. September 18, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/wo
> rld/2016/sep/18/us-accuses-russia-of-grandstanding-over-dead
> ly-syria-air-strikes
> Given the ambiguity of the word troops ( http://www.visualthesaurus.com
> /cm/dictionary/a-troop-of-one/ - which links a 2003 ADS thread), it might
> help if reporters’ stylebooks were to suggest a better word?  The fact that
> two NYT articles about the same incident used different words to refer to
> the military servicepeople might mean that a stylebook wasn’t being
> followed in one or both of the articles, though.
> Of course, whether we killed sixty-two people (as seems to be the case) or
> sixty-two units of people when they weren’t people who should have been
> killed at all is certainly far more horrible than the (some would say)
> misuse of the word or the ambiguity created by (some would say) an
> acceptable use of the word.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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