FW: Modern War Words???

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 18 21:19:35 UTC 2013

I too fly by night, but "shitbag" and "smoke" are so old I cringed. And one
does not necessarily have to be a sloven(But their inclusion shows
somebody's paying attention! How would an ordinary human know how old such
words are?)

More seriously cringeworthy, there is also a casual jingo-journo use of
"hero" to mean "person who has served, esp. recently, in the U.S. armed
forces." As a cliche' of choice, it may go as far back as Desert Storm,
though I have no doubt that returning servicemen (not women) were called
"heroes" in headlines as far back as 1918. (My feeling is that 1865 or even
1898 would be stretch: IM impressionistic O.)

As I  understand it, real heroes have no desire to refer to themselves as
such. Most of them, in fact, go out of their way to observe that the even
realer heroes are no longer with us.

Somebody in desperate need of a degree should write an analysis of the
recent nuances, in U.S. English, of both "hero" and "victim."

For "turd burglar" (HDAS vault: 1985; seemingly civilian), read older
"asshole bandit" (with homophobic reference) and cf. "ass bandit" (more
usually without).

GB coughs up a lone snippet of "combat tourist" from 1947, in what seems
superficially like the present meaning. But in theory, anyone doing a
"combat tour" could punningly be called a "combat tourist," and an example
of the current meaning would hardly have typified the 1947 Zeitgeist.  I
believe I first encountered the phrase as a deprecating (self-?)reference
to "combat correspondents" in Iraq or Afghanistan.


On Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 3:26 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: FW: Modern War Words???
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I'm pretty sure Combat Tourist, Hero, Smoke and Shitbag are quite old
> (smoke, for sure, and it's also old gang slang). That is, I've heard
> them before 2002. Some (hero) came from period films (including sci-fi,
> not just military docudramas). Others are documented more directly. Old
> military might be a better source on this than a fly-by-night observer
> like me.
>      VS-)
> On 12/18/2013 6:13 AM, David Barnhart wrote:
> > The following is from my nephew who was deployed in Afghanistan a couple
> of
> > years ago.
> >
> > Regards,
> > David
> >
> > barnhart at highlands.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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