semantic drift: "platoon"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jan 24 22:14:41 UTC 2008

Here it means "a contingent of (any number of) soldiers." Not in OED.

  1905 in Mohandas Gandhi _The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi_  IV 1 [] : A platoon of 14,371 men was sent out to China, when the Boxer Rebellion broke out in that country.

  ca2006 Michael Webster  _Iliad: Reading Assignments_ : Catalogue of Ships and Men. The troops are outlined here, first those of the Danaans... There are 29 "platoons."... Note that Agamemnon has the largest platoon; Telamonian Ajax has the smallest. The Trojan platoons and their allies are described last.

  Dr. Webster is Associate Professor of Engliah at Grand Valley State University, Michigan.

  Webster's text is Stanley Lombardo's translation of the Iliad. So far as I can tell, Lombardo uses the word only to refer to formations of a several dozen soldiers each.


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