March 5, 2012 1 Comment Under public relations
Never underestimate the value of history. Never stop learning. And never cease to be amazed at the power of words.
A recent study of World War I (I know, yawn, but stick with me) revealed a surprising number of factoids related to modern day language. Not only are these tidbits interesting, but their origins make me wonder what today’s buzzwords, wartime related or not, may mean decades from now. For instance:
* Although earlier wars involved global dimensions, the term “world war” was used to signify the extraordinary reach of this unprecedented conflict.
* “Over the top”, “no man’s land”, “in the trenches” and other similar phrases originate with the trench warfare aspects of battle.
* Similarly, trench coat, trench foot (frostbite) and trench fever (typhus) were introduced into current vocabulary.
* “Shell shock” has nothing to do with shrapnel, but rather, a prolonged exposure to the atrocities of battle. Today, the words used are “post traumatic stress disorder” to define the same condition.
* Historians say steel helmets represent the first use of technology into warfare, followed by machine guns, tanks and submarines. BTW, the word “tank” was actually a code name as it doesn’t accurately describe the hunk of moving metal, but the code name stuck.
* The British referred to the anonymity of soldiers as “Tommy Atkins”, the American equivalent of John Doe.
* And on a timely note, daylight saving time was first put into practice by the German government during WWI to conserve fuel and increase productivity for war munitions.
See, who knew?
This 36-lecture series called “The Great War” is by Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Associate Professor History and German historian.