Effect of military life on English

#1
After putting up with following me around the world for 22 years my daughter has decided to do her dissertation on the effect of military life on the english language. The request for information is open to all not just service personell e(ex or serving)

If you can take a couple of minutes to finish the form below and e-mail it to me ( dgrainge@hotmail.com ) I will forward it to her.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in this survey. Please answer the questions below, using a separate sheet if necessary, and then fill in the table, putting a cross in the relevant boxes to show when you have used a particular word or phrase.


1. Are you male/ female


2. Age-


3. Present occupation-


4. Are you serving or have you ever served in the British Armed Forces (including Territorial Army)?

If yes, in which arm and branch? Please give dates.




5. Are you/ have you ever been a member of a UAS, URNU or OTC?

If yes, which? Please give dates.




6. What is your first language?


7. Do you speak any other languages?

If yes, which and to what degree of fluency? E.g, basic, conversational.





8. If you have served in the forces and have served abroad, please give brief details of where, with dates.





Please fill in the table, putting a cross in the relevant boxes to show when you have used a particular word or phrase.


.........................In normal vocabulary..... In a working military situation.... With friends in the military or family....With other friends
Ack-Ack
Banyan
Chop-chop
Cushy
Dhobi
Dekko
Kip
Pukka
Shufti
Khaki
Tiffin
Tabernack
Chuckup
Wang
Jeldhi
Marlish
Buckshee
Jankers
Goolies
Caddy
Moaning Minnie
Black market
Run amok
Bimble
Gizzit
Scran
Brevet
Char
Boondocker/ing
Quisling
Gucci (not the designer)
Banjo (not musical instrument)
Banduk
Ulu
Sanger
Imshi
Brewhaha
Jinglies/ jingly
Kybosh
Wallah
 
#2
Quite an interesting list you have there... many are words 'we' picked up in the Far East/India I suspect. Is there a racially-motivated element to your daughter's dissertation?
 
#3
What a strange list. The majority of those words would have been everyday stuff to India/Burma - Korea - Borneo era troops, probably the youngest of whom subsequently retired in the 70's. I've probably used a number in my time, but mostly because my Old Fella fought in Burma, got away with it and passed them on as he dandled me on his knee.
 
#4
Chop-chop - 2 easy steps
Cushy - little number
Dhobi - only because it upsets my mum
Kip - mmm, sleep
Shufti - have ****** at that
Khaki - because we wear it
Wang - To throw or, errrrr, a long willy?
Buckshee - yes please
Goolies - ouch
Bimble - across the parade square to annoy the RSM
Gizzit - and gizzit now
Scran - mmm, food
Ulu - where I lost my torch
Sanger - two bit of bread with meat in the middle?


Does that help?
 
#5
staaken said:
What a strange list. The majority of those words would have been everyday stuff to India/Burma - Korea - Borneo era troops, probably the youngest of whom subsequently retired in the 70's. I've probably used a number in my time, but mostly because my Old Fella fought in Burma, got away with it and passed them on as he dandled me on his knee.
Staaken,

I think that most of those words were still in wide use in the military in the 1970s and 80s, but most of the guys serving then have pulled stumps and gone to take tea!!! I know the meaning of all but a few, and that cannot be because I have read Kipling. I know that a lot of those words came from India and beyond, but I couldn't give you a bibliography.

They are not in common use now except by people my age! I used "boondocks" the other day, and no-one there knew what I meant! I had to explain that the Boondocks are a different kind of place to the ulu, but I think the nuance might have gone over their heads

BTW, add "chogi", char-wallah, keks and Don 10, which is still in regular use in the Army - and that has survived from the First World War, without people realising!

Edited to add "And it's tabernacle as in "the old tin tabernacle"". Looked at the one in Tidworth the other day. Looks awful. Pity really but they weren't built to last.

Litotes
 
#6
Agree with the other posters. These are definitely historical words brought back from the days of empire. Only a few have survived like "Jingly". More commonly used would be the word "floppy" to describe the "ragheaded" natives.

Whilst out in places sandy, we hired Marquee like tentage to utilise. They became known colloquially as Bfots, and Mfots - Big Eff Off Tents, and Medium eff off tent. The abbreviations entered common use as words in their own right, without people understanding their origins and I remember seeing them used in a brief to PJHQ. Inevitably, a bright thing from PJHQ staff asked what it meant..........
 
#7
I was up at Minley Manor a few years back on a course and happened to spy the only piece of mess property that I have ever been tempted to 'reallocate' (I didn't BTW, but have regretted it ever since). It was a hefty leather-bound tome chock full of Indian words in English usage. One that really surprised me was 'cash' which means IIRC, not unsurprisingly, loose coins of small denomination. So there you go.

There are others which we use incorrectly like 'bungalow' - this does not mean a single storey building at all; it's main characteristic is (IIRC) a high ceiling space to help dissipate heat. Apparently.







Now, what was I supposed to be doing before I found this thread...
 
#8
For what it's worth, I've heard the word "kharzi" used by a few older male instructors on my course, as well as about in town. Civvies all.
 
#9
Ginger_Magician said:
Agree with the other posters. These are definitely historical words brought back from the days of empire.
Ahhh, but what of the words brought back from the Cold War (the German influences)?

Schimf (complain), Schlaf (sleep), and the b**tard offspring of such roots - schlaf-sack, etc. Not to mention schnell (if it wasn't for the ubiquity of gyros and schnellimbiss, I'd suggest the A5 training pamphlets had given us them, as well as "Donner und Blitzen", "Achtung", and "Arrrgh/Aieeee" :) ).
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
They may be Empire words but they're still current. Some are everyday language (Navy at least), some I picked up at school in the 80's and some my dad tought me from his national service days, oh and I picked up "kybosh" from the film "Oh what a lovely war!"
 
#11
have to agree that i'm certainly not old enough to have learnt the words first time round, but a good percentage were "fed" to us during my time in and (to the annoyance of my wife, and ignorance of my colleagues) use them now!
 
#12
I'm very fond of the faux German adjective "Upgefucht" which I use a lot. I'm told it's derived from US troops in Germany, but a German girl in my office (who married a Scots gunner) says Germans use it too. I also use "Gucci" in the military context at work, with strange looks from some of the others in my team.

Apparently the opposite of "pukka" is "cush" meaning inferior.

In his Burma memoir "Quartered Safe Out Here", George MacDonald Fraser has a list of Hindi & Arabic words & phrases used then & I bet a few have survived. "Bint" leaps to mind, from his translation of the song "Paper Doll" that begins "I'd like a bint, a coggage bint..." coggage being paper.

The man who lived next door to my folks (& was Coldstream Guards in N Africa & Italy, despite being a Cornishman) used to use "Ackers" for money, which I believe to be Arabic.

My Dad always says "two six" before lifting anything, which I think is naval.

Finally, does anyone use the naval derived intensifier "Harry" as in "I was Harry crappers last night" for very drunk, or "Harry maskers" (Repaired by liberal use of black tape)?
 
#13
foxs_marine said:
Finally, does anyone use the naval derived intensifier "Harry" as in "I was Harry crappers last night" for very drunk, or "Harry maskers" (Repaired by liberal use of black tape)?
My last boss was a Naval 3-ringer and he used "Harry" quite liberally when describing anything to the point it became almost a demonstrative adjective.
 
#15
foxs_marine said:
I'm very fond of the faux German adjective "Upgefucht" which I use a lot. I'm told it's derived from US troops in Germany, but a German girl in my office (who married a Scots gunner) says Germans use it too. I also use "Gucci" in the military context at work, with strange looks from some of the others in my team.

Apparently the opposite of "pukka" is "cush" meaning inferior.

In his Burma memoir "Quartered Safe Out Here", George MacDonald Fraser has a list of Hindi & Arabic words & phrases used then & I bet a few have survived. "Bint" leaps to mind, from his translation of the song "Paper Doll" that begins "I'd like a bint, a coggage bint..." coggage being paper.

The man who lived next door to my folks (& was Coldstream Guards in N Africa & Italy, despite being a Cornishman) used to use "Ackers" for money, which I believe to be Arabic.

My Dad always says "two six" before lifting anything, which I think is naval.

Finally, does anyone use the naval derived intensifier "Harry" as in "I was Harry crappers last night" for very drunk, or "Harry maskers" (Repaired by liberal use of black tape)?
"ackers" is from the Egyptian "akka".

"Two six" is Naval, it's a gun crew order (ordering numbers 2 and 6 to make ready, or take the strain).

"Cushty" or "Cush" is from the Hindustani "Khush" meaning pleasant.
 
#16
A fair few of those have their roots in the days of the Raj and the very british way of corrupting the local lingo (there we go) into everyday slang.

Also sayings like: Pick up your monkeys and parrots (used by the Screw in my training) usually the last words heard on Indian soil before you got on the Steamer home. Monkeys - things that hang on your back (e.g. your rucksack or 'bergan') and parrots - things that sit on your shoulder (e.g. your rifle or 'bundook').

Defaulters - for the 6 and 10's.

Rickies - Restrictions Of Privileges.

Dhoby - More of a naval thing now, wash your kit etc.

Banjaxed - Knackered, tired.

Shipwrecked - Naval term for being drunk also three sheets to the wind

Torpedoed - As above but comatose, pool of your own vomit kind of drunk.

Make and mend - Bit of slack time for personal admin.

Egyptian PT - Sleeping also Gonking, Schlafing etc.

The list could go on when you sit and think...
 
#18
Poacher mentioned extending the list by sitting and thinking - not a practise one could carry out in India immediately post war. Rickshaw senior found his trip to the multi-seater disturbed by one occupant's failure to acknowledge the warning order of "ghoolie sahib". This particular multiseater has sited over a row of metal dust bins. The dust bins were removed each morning by the "khazi wallah" and the contents taken away for burning. The means of extracting the dust bin was via a hatch at the rar of the thunder box and, prior to the bin being whipped away, there was aloud cry of "ghoolie sahib" as a warning to lift your tackle well clear of the departing bin. On this particular morning, a new guy in theatre was sitting there, pondering the state of the nation and how he had managed to end up in the Raj. He ignored - and wouldn't have understood the warning order - and thus found his Jewel in the crown, plus the orb(s), moving smartly to the burns pit, without him in close formation.
 
#20
Army/military English very definitely has its own words.Apart from the ones of its own invention, it has picked up a whole load others as a consequence of postings around the Empire. Hence lots of Hindi, Malay, Chinese and Arab words. And as with bungalow some have passed on into general use.

Some others I could think of that I use, or hear my father in law use too:
abdabs
oggin
snurgle (as in sneak up, using the ground tactically)
say again (that one used to wind up the wife)

Some very localised ones pop up in BATUS. My fave came about from the habit of referring to everyone by the call sign all the time even when off the Block. This got to the extent that there were some new call signs like W0C (whisky zero charlie) - as in Wife of 0C.

Bought a book once that might be useful if you can find a copy - Soldiers Talk (A Squaddie's Handbook) (ISBN 0-85052-459-8)
 

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