Bin Laden and PC

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed May 4 17:59:34 UTC 2011

But back to my question (from early in this thread):  How did the Indian get the name Geronimo?  Maybe it was a code name assigned to him by the Yankee cavalry--and he happened to like it, so he kept it when he avoided being KIA'd.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 1:48 PM

Well, there would have to be an interpreter present.

Two interpreters, actually. SEAL doctrine.


On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> P.S.:  Last time I heard (which may have been in WWII, vicariously) secret
> code names were assigned randomly from a big book of usable code names.  The
> idea is/was that the referent's relationship to the name should not be
> conducive to interpretation.
> If the administration wants to pay me in the mid to upper six-figure range
> to eliminate potentially non-PC code words from the big book of possible
> secret names, I'm ready.
> JL
>   On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 1:39 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at
> > wrote:
>> I think saying "Bang! You're dead!" would have been sufficient, because
>> language is loaded weapon.
>> Peace.
>> JL
>>   On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 1:27 PM, 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: Bin Laden and PC
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> At 1:16 PM -0400 5/4/11, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>> >
>>> >OTOH, I have a problem with the use of "KIA," in a case like this. KIA
>>> >implies that, like a red-blooded American defender of our freedom,
>>> >Usama had died in combat. I haven't read the news particularly
>>> >closely, but my impression is that Usama was basically a sitting duck,
>>> >not engaged in any kind of pro-, or even re-, active defense of
>>> >himself and al-Qaida.
>>> >
>>> Well, after all, bin Laden was killed in the course of the Navy
>>> Seals' action even if not his own.  After all, KIA doesn't specify
>>> whose action the killee was killed in.  Underspecification strikes
>>> again!
>>> LH

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