Saturday, August 21, 2004

Lingua franca

Often, Singapore boys start talking Army and threaten to alienate the womenfolk, and often to their own detriment. Boring, the women groan. Speak English please, they groan again, when another story with a chuck load of jargon is given its mandatory airing at any Army buddy gathering.

Funny they should say that. 'Speak English', that is.

Drill (marching) commands are given in Malay (Did you know that the national language of Singapore is Malay?), and apart from the Malay-speaking populace, only an NSF and less frequently, an NSman would know what 'untuk diperiksa datang senjata'* means.

There are several other non-English terms which I remember wondering the origins of, given the dubious pronounciation by our Singlish-speaking soldiers.

Reveille: Morning wake up call / bugle. Pronounced in the SAF as Levelly or Rebelly. (origin: French)

Laager: The Armour version of 'safe-harbour', a defensive formation. (origin: Afrikaans)

Fabrique Nationale de Armes de Guerre Herstal, Belgique, Mitrailleuse d'Appui General (FN MAG GPMG): General Purpose Machine Gun. (origin: French)

Anyone has any recollection of any other (official) terms or names we use in the SAF which are foreign?

* port arms for inspection


Anonymous said...

I guess the classic will be "Rendezvous"... the less educated non-coms totally hated the educated ones pronouncing is as ron-dey-voo, and would reply "kan nin na boo" whenever we said it..

They either called it "RV", or steadfastly pronounced it as "ren-dez-vos"

Anonymous said...

slightly out of point here, but 2 other terms which I never found out about for the longest time:

"estab mewt": As a signalman, I was always asked to call over the radio set for "estab mewt" whenever we approached the objective.. it was only near ORD that I knew it was supposed to be estab(lish) neut(ralisation).

"HD defence": It's actually hasty defence.

Anonymous said...

WE had a specific term for ppl who were especially adept at throwing smoke and disappearing whenever there was work to be done - NINJA....

Anonymous said...

For the ' armes...herstel', it should be 'd'armes'.
Funny they can't stay to one language for army jargon. Next thing you know we would be saying 'Achtung!'... ;)

Anonymous said...

its call estab neut. as in establish neutralisation when calling in of arty fire. i had the same problems intially. didn't know what the hell estab mewt/nuke or whateva it was meant.

AcidFlask said...

How about flannelette? I just love the way people say flan-der-lite or something equally disastrous.

And what's up with telk, as in covering up something with plastic wrap?

andrew said...

how about the time some nsman came to my store and asked for a torlench... i had no idea what the bugger was talking about, so i told him to take himself from the shelves...

the bugger took out a torque wrench.

mr.udders said...

oh! so that's what it was... the flannelette thing.

my grouse is with communications cord, or comms cord for short; it was always bastardised into comscotch or something along those lines.