[Ads-l] belligerent, n. = 'military adversary'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 13 12:00:06 EDT 2017


> On May 13, 2017, at 10:36 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Isn't an insurgent rebelling against something, while a belligerent is
> 'just' fighting.

Indeed, but in this case the belligerents are fighting against the government we support, so they’re also insurgents.  That seems to happen a lot.  (Of course if they were belligerent against a government we didn’t support, they’d be freedom fighters.)  

LH

> 
> On May 13, 2017 10:19 AM, "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> 
> There’s also “insurgent”, with a similar sense (‘enemy combatant’; ‘not us’)
> 
> LH
>> On May 13, 2017, at 12:24 AM, W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> 
>> On May 11, 2017 10:51 AM, "Jonathan Lighter" wrote:  << Not in OED. >>
>> JL: << " Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, Director DIA, testifies that  without
>> more  assets the stalemate in Afghanistan "will deteriorate in the favor
> of
>> the belligerents." >>
>> GLC:  << You may be missing a nuance here: The enemy is seen as
>> belligerent/aggressive/unethical/s.o.b's.  Our side, by contrast, is seen
>> as pacifiers/promoters of peace/nation builders.  I suppose that's what
> Lt.
>> Gen. Stewart was thinking. >>
>> WB:  This is my take.  Stewart wants to say "enemy", but it is too taboo
> to
>> refer to Muslims as "enemy". Stewart must use a euphemism. <Belligerent>
>> now has an extended euphemistic meaning of 'the enemy, the bad guys, them
>> not us' from this one data point. How many data points are necessary
> before
>> it wends its way into the OED? Prescriptive rants are, of course, welcome,
>> as part of the historical record for canonization. OTOH, the OED is full
> of
>> obscure, nonce entries of interest to none but pedantic drudges. Time will
>> tell.
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
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> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> 
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