Parse this: Pentagon fields new Language Corps

Landau, James James.Landau at NGC.COM
Mon May 14 14:03:51 UTC 2007

I suspect that the article below is either a hoax or greatly

Notice the number of cutesy and not particularly accurate comments ("few
Latinos who haven't forgotten...", "retake New Orleans" (which we
purchased)).  Also NOBODY talks about a current "peace" in Iraq and the
one safe prediction about Iraq is that, no matter what happens there,
DOD is going to need Arabic interpreters and translators (does the
writer realize that there are other countries in the Near East besides
Iraq where Arabic is the native language?)

There are any number of non-Hispalnic Americans of recent immigration
heritage who are fluent in their heritage language.  Many of them are in
the Armed Forces.  Example: during the failed 1980 raid on the US
Embassy in Teheran, the raiders included a number of soldiers who were

Between the two World Wars the US Navy had a "language officer" program
in which naval officers were stationed in foreign countries, Japan in
particular, solely for the purpose of learning the local language, so a
"Language Corps" is hardly a new idea.

    - Jim Landau

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Baron [mailto:debaron at UIUC.EDU]
Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 11:43 PM
Subject: Parse this: Pentagon fields new Language Corps

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

Language goes to war: Pentagon launches Language Corps

The Pentagon has announced the formation of a Language Corps, an all-
volunteer linguistic national guard charged with defending America
"during times of war [and] national emergency."  The Corps will recruit
at least 1,000 civilian linguists specializing in a set of as-
yet-undetermined strategic languages so that the armed forces can
"respond in emergencies, whether international or national."

According to Pentagon spokesperson Robert Slater, while the army does
have a number of bilingual soldiers, most of them either speak Spanish,
because they're among the few Latinos who haven't forgotten their
heritage language, or they know some French or even a smattering of
Latin that they picked up in high school.  Those languages won't be of
much military use unless the President decides it's time to retake Cuba,
New Orleans, or the Vatican.

But there are languages that the army does need, and the Pentagon is
setting up the Language Corps because it can't be expected to "identify,
hire and warehouse professionals with skills in 150 languages."  In
fact, it can't even find professionals with skills in
two languages critical to the national defense, Arabic and Pashto.
Despite the fact that Afghanistan and the Middle East have been trouble
spots for decades, the army hasn't been able to "warehouse"
enough linguists to deal either with the war in Afghanistan or the
"peace" in Iraq.
interested? read the rest on the Web of Language:



Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321

read the Web of Language:

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