Sunday, February 10, 2008

Philippine-US War, War Against Terrorism and the Use of Soldier Slang

Psychology Today has a story by Mark Peters about the Iraq War and the use of slangs by the soldiers. Inventing slangs has psychological uses for them, Peter argued including:
* Lightening the mood. "Slang helps soldiers bullshit about bombs and terrorists, which helps you keep your sanity," says Sgt. Timothy Boggs. "We had fun in March, as we always warned each other before we went out, 'beware the IEDs of March.' "
* Establishing group identity. All slang separates insiders from outsiders, sending the message, "If you know the lingo, you're one of us." Some terms specifically designate subgroups. Besides "fobbit," older insults for non-combatants include "POG" (person other than grunt) and "hangar pilot."
* Connecting with home. "Mortaritaville," a name for a frequently attacked base, is inspired by Jimmy Buffet. Michael Adams, author of Slang: The People's Poetry, says, "pop culture cuts through the slang lexicon in a big way"—providing reassuring reminders of life away from the chaos.
* Venting frustration. "Hillbilly armor" refers to the MacGyver-ish efforts of soldiers to protect their vehicles with spare metal, and "pope glass"—picture the popemobile's bulletproof windows. Soldiers invent "mildly pejorative terms" to help them blow off steam, Adams says.
* Dehumanizing the enemy. There's obviously a dark side to old terms like gook and the new word "Haji"—a term for any Iraqi or Middle Easterner. As one anonymous U.S. sergeant explained, "It's easier to call your enemy a name instead of referring to them as what they are, because it helps you not care about them."

The last one struck the most among Filipino scholars. Remember what they call us then? Yes, monkeys without tails. LBB. In dehumanizing us, shooting us became easier than shooting rabbits, as one soldier said 110 years ago.


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