Friday, April 18, 2008
There comes a time when a word has been used so often and incorrectly by the media that it screams for some attention. That word is ‘troops’. For years I have been increasingly irritated by the contorted definition of this word in referring to the military, and I feel this needs to be addressed. Is there anyone else out there who feels the same way? I mean, these men and women put their lives on the line for our country every day of their existence and I feel the least our media can do is show a little respect by referring to the individuals as ‘soldiers’ and apply the proper use of the word ‘troops’ appropriately. It is as easy as looking the word up in the dictionary. Here are just a few synonyms offered when looking up the word ‘troop’ in the dictionary: crowd, company, pack, group, herd, multitude, flock, horde……hmmmm, nowhere does it indicate a ‘troop’ as an individual. In addition, ‘troops’ is so impersonal…
Here is a perfect example of the way the word ‘troops’ is being used. This headline is from Yahoo! News, from an article created by an Associated Press Writer:
“Roughly 1 in every 5 troops who return from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer mental health problems.”
Yeah, ok, so upon reading this article I would (correctly so) assume that 1 in every 5 GROUPS suffer from mental health problems. Seems realistic. Mathematically, the numeric results are the same, if the number of soldiers per group (or troop, in this case) is equal. But check out this example from the Associated Press from October, 2006:
“Eleven more U.S. troops were slain in combat, the military said Wednesday, putting October on track to be the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the siege of Fallujah nearly two years ago.”
In this case, I’m guessing the author of this article is referring to eleven people, and not eleven GROUPS of people.
I’m actually curious as to how the mis-connotation of this word began. Yes, I know - - I must have a lot of time on my hands to be ranting about something like this, but I guess it comes down to this: if the media, who are professionals and have more influence over our lives and culture that I’d care to admit, are not vigilant and correct about the proper use of our language, how will our children learn to communicate effectively?
Lately I have been trying to locate some old friends from my high school, college and various workplaces. With some I have had success, and sadly, with others I have hit a brick wall. Oh, I can most certainly obtain the addresses / phone numbers / e-mail addresses of these people, but now I have to pay for it! It is sad how our society has been corrupted with the fear and reality of identity theft to the point where some companies have appointed themselves the “information gatekeepers” and for a fee one can obtain the desired information.
With that being said, I am quite sad that I am unable to locate one of my very dearest girlfriends from high school as well as a wonderful man with whom I worked and became quite good friends back in 1987-1988 at a telemarketing company. It is as if one has vanished into thin air while the other’s information can be had for the hefty price of $39.95….
Now that I’m older I see how easily friendships can be lost over the course of time. It is with regret I admit I sometimes didn’t keep in touch when I had the opportunity. On the other hand, life gets in the way sometimes and we each get caught up in our own worlds and by the time we can find a place to breathe it’s too late - - years wind up passing with a scary quickness and it’s not possible to just jump back in where we left off.