Monday, June 30, 2014

Semantic Slide

I am by nature a "purist" as far as the English language is concerned. Nevertheless, I recognize that the meanings of words change with time. When the British adopted the German word Blitzkrieg, they were not referring to lightning warfare, but the extended almost-nightly bombing of London and its environs in 1940 and subsequent years. A much-abused word is "troop". We still see some usage of it in its original form meaning essentially a body of soldiers: "Troop 7" refers to a unit of Boy Scouts. It is one of those words which is convenient for headline writers, in phrases such as "six troops killed in Tikrit". In other words it has become a synonym for individual soldiers. It is acceptable in the plural: "Syrian troops enter Aleppo". Although I don't like this development in meaning, there is no way that I can "stop the tide from coming in". The only satisfaction that I can obtain is to express my dismay, while I learn to live with it.

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