Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed May 19 20:42:41 UTC 2010

Many WWII vets (and probably other wars as well) downplay their combat
experience, sometimes even outright denying their involvement. My dad always
told us that he never saw combat in WWII, having been shipped to Europe too
late. After his death, I found his flight records that told the opposite. He
arrived in Europe in mid-1944 and flew over 25 combat missions as a B-24
tail-gunner, surviving both flak and fighter attacks.

I remember seeing an interview with Stephen Ambrose who said that this
behavior was common among the veterans he interviewed. He said it usually
took a while before the interviewee started to fess up to actually having
seen combat.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 11:40 AM
Subject: Re: Vietnam

A good word is "equivocation." My guess is that the Attorney General of the
State of Connecticut was attempting to be equivocal and the equivocation
came out indistinguishable from an outright falsehood.

BTW, "in World War II" lends itself to soem degree of equivocation far
better than "in Vietnam," because "World War II" is not a place; thus "in"
cannot be taken to mean "within the geographical boundaries of."

Back in the '50s, many dads had served "in" WWII, and it was common for kids
to say so, regardless of where he'd been stationed.  The dads I knew,
however, would be quick to say (as appropriate), "Well, I was in (uniform/
the service/ etc.), but I didn't go overseas."  Or perhaps, "I was in Hawaii
the whole time." Of course, the qualifications themselves suggest that "in
World War II" fundamentally implies "in combat in WWII."

But it does seem to offer a little more wiggle room than "in Vietnam."


On Wed, May 19, 2010 at 11:22 AM, Laurence Horn
<laurence.horn at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Vietnam
> At 10:25 AM -0400 5/19/10, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> >Is there an easy way to differentiate between someone who occasionally,
> >in a limited number of instances, lies, as opposed to someone who has
> >fabricated his biography consistently over a long period of time?
> >
> >They both appear to be liars, which is not helpful. Calling the
> >occasional lies "misstatements" doesn't work for me, as it implies the
> >lies were unintentional, which in my hypothetical example is not the
> >
> >DanG
> How about a veterate liar? (as opposed to all those inveterate ones)
> (Yes, yes, I know.)
> LH
> >
> >On 5/19/2010 10:12 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >
> >>It is certainly possible that Blumenthal might accidentally have said
> >>"served in" when he meant "served during," but my opinion is that he
> could
> >>have and should have caught and corrected himself.  In that split second
> he
> >>chose not to.
> >>
> >>It would, of course, be far worse if - as some have done - he'd
> manufactured
> >>a fake Vietnam service record.  Whether a politician's "mere" rhetorical
> >>sleaze is enough to neutralize his actual accomplishements in office is,
> of
> >>course, another issue.
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
>  >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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