[Ads-l] Antedating of "Comfort Girl"

Tue Dec 12 15:59:44 EST 2017

The OED has 1945 for "comfort girl" and 1961 (with a bracketed 1949) for "comfort woman."  "Comfort girl" was used in an Associated Press article by Charles A. Grumich, which ran in many newspapers; this is from the Decatur Daily Review, Mar. 31, 1944 (Newspapers.com).  The article is about Japanese soldiers taken prisoner in Burma and is based in substantial part on the account of one such prisoner.  In a portion of the article under the heading ""Comfort Girls" with Army" is the following:

"As morale-boosters, he said, there were twice weekly rations of soap, towels, tobacco and sweets, and saki is drunk every Sunday.  Then there is the systematized service of camp followers, units of "comfort girls" attached to each division.

Twenty imported Japanese girls - the Japs don't trust or force Burmans in this extracurricular service - are provided for each regiment."

Note that these comfort women (as we now say) were Japanese, although the use of Korean comfort women is better known.

John Baker

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

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