I wrote my post on the language of military men and their families some time ago, and had been saving it for an appropriate moment—like Memorial Day. (When I was younger, my birthday—30 May—was always Memorial Day, and Memorial Day was always the day the neighborhood pool opened: a great time for a California kid’s birthday.) While I waited, other articles of interest continued to come across my desk; here’s a good one.
Writing at the Oxford University Press blog, history professor Jennine Hurl-Eamon discusses the deep roots of military culture and how it is expressed in language:
It should not be surprising that the expression “hot stuff” had its origin in military circles. Britain’s common soldiers were immersed in a counter-culture of which language was an important signifier. Men in uniform have long been known for having a greater propensity to swear, for example. This is borne out by the literature of the time. As early as 1749, Samuel Richardson referred to the popular expression of swearing “like a trooper” in his novel Clarissa. Characters in Robert Bage’s 1796 novel, Hermsprong, held profanity to be “as natural to a soldier as praying to a parson,” and worried that “if soldiers and sailors were forbidden it, their courage would droop.” It transcended the boundaries of rank and gender.
Lots of interesting info here—check it out.
Note: Speaking of birthdays, this is the date I’d set to send out my subscription reward … but I’m going to miss the deadline. I’ve started it, I’m just not happy with it yet. Your exclusive rant is coming (to an in-box near you). Just not yet. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for being a subscriber.
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