Troops facing and inflicting death display a high degree of linguistic creativity. Vietnam was the last American war fought by an army with conscripts, and their involuntary participation in the war added a dimension to the language. War has always been an incubator for slang; it is brutal, and brutality demands a vocabulary to describe what we don’t encounter in peacetime civilian life. Furthermore, such language serves to create an intense bond between comrades in the armed forces, helping them to support the heavy burdens of war.
The troops in Vietnam faced the usual demands of war, as well as several that were unique to Vietnam – a murky political basis for the war, widespread corruption in the ruling government, untraditional guerilla warfare, an unpredictable civilian population in Vietnam, and a growing lack of popular support for the war back in the US. For all these reasons, the language of those who fought in Vietnam was a vivid reflection of life in wartime.
Vietnam War Slanglays out the definitive record of the lexicon of Americans who fought in the Vietnam War. Assuming no prior knowledge, it presents around 2000 headwords, with each entry divided into sections giving parts of speech, definitions, glosses, the countries of origin, dates of earliest known citations, and citations. It will be an essential resource for Vietnam veterans and their families, students and readers of history, and anyone interested in the principles underpinning the development of slang.
For those interested in pursuing specific subjects further, the book provides sources at the end of each entry as well as a general bibliography. Appendixes provide a useful list of abbreviations and acronyms and a listing of ranks and grades in the U.S. Army.
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