Phonetic alphabets

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Fri Dec 10 19:16:19 UTC 2004

On Dec 9, 2004, at 6:45 PM, James A. Landau wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Phonetic alphabets
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> In a message dated Wed, 8 Dec 2004 17:22:18 -0800,   Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM> comments:
>>  "Crossed-sabers LOGO???" LOGO????  There's a word they didn't use in
>> the
>> Civil War !
> My mistake.  A "logo" is something that is printed.  Something on a
> uniform
> is an
> insignia".

Re "insignia": the correct singular is "insigne."

>>  One invariable screwup they make in one-horse Civil War movies
>> (including "
>> The Red Badge of Courage" with Audie Murphy) is to put the modern
>> crossed-
>> rifle infantry symbol on kepis. Real Civil War infantrymen wore a
>> hunting-
>> horn insigne on their headgear instead.
> You are correct, except for the word "modern".  The crossed-rifles
> insignia
> was adopted in 1875.
> US Army insigniae

Re "insigniae": the correct plural is "insignia"

>  of the Civil War:
>    infantry - hunting horn (silver 1834-1851, then gold 1851-1875)
>    cavalry - crossed sabers
>    artillery - crossed cannon
>    engineers - castle
>    topographical engineers - shield
>    ordnance - shell and flame

For "shell and flame," read "bomb with burning fuse" or "grenade with
burning fuse"

> Another mistake of mine---Sheridan's cavalry also had a crossed sabers
> insignia,

For "insignia," read "insigne."

> so it does not appear that General Wilson invented it.
> Also, thanks for the words to the Jim Bowie theme, but I would have
> preferred
> you hadn't bothered.  The words are jejune.  The tune, however, is
> nice.  By
> the way, I always like to sing an advertising jingle of that era to
> that tune:
>  "A dram of Drambuie".
>       - Jim Landau

If, as is the case with, e,g, "media," you want to use a Latin plural
as an English singular, then you probably pluralize that word as an
English singular by adding "-s," instead of adding another Latin plural
- one of the wrong gender, at that, i.e. adding the feminine plural
nominative ending to a word that already has the correct neuter plural
nominative/accusative ending - to the already-pluralized Latin word, as
is the present case.

And yet, there those who claim that a classical education has no value
in this modern world!;-)

-Wilson Gray

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