semantic drift: "platoon"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 25 19:23:05 UTC 2008

Poor Stanley! And curse that Michael Webster and his little school,
which routinely kicked UC Davis's ass in football, too!

The Great-Souled One we can forgive as being a non-native speaker.


On 1/24/08, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      semantic drift: "platoon"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
>   JL
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