Effect of military life on English

Discussion in 'Staff College and Staff Officers' started by Delboy3, Jan 24, 2006.

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  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
    Moaning Minnie
    Black market
    Run amok
    Gucci (not the designer)
    Banjo (not musical instrument)
    Jinglies/ jingly
  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,

    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.

  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. 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" :) ).
  10. Bouillabaisse

    Bouillabaisse LE Book Reviewer

    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. 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.
  14. Don't forget:

    Threaders - pissed off
    Harry Black - black masking tape
    Redders - hot
  15. "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.