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KSL Reports: The War Lingo Phenomenon

KSL Reports: The War Lingo Phenomenon

Posted - Apr. 9, 2003 at 5:46 p.m.



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(KSL News) -- During the FIRST Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, coined the phrase, "The Mother of All wars".

After that, the term worked its way into normal conversation to describe a lot of things.

OK, admit it -- you've actually used the phrase: "Shock and Awe" in a conversation in the past few weeks.

The Pentagon came up with that one, to describe the beginning of the war with Iraq.

Since then, we've heard a bunch of new words and acronyms:

--"Embedded" is a popular one-- to describe reporters who are travelling right there with the troops.

--How about the word: "MOPP".. short for Mission Oriented Protective Posture. In simple terms, chemical protection suits.

Keith McCord, Eyewitness News: "HOW ABOUT THIS: E-P-W. THAT STANDS FOR ENEMY PRISONERS OF WAR.. THE MODERN VERSION OF P-O-W! HOW ABOUT M-O-A-B? NO, NOT THE NAME OF A TOWN IN SOUTHERN UTAH!"

It stands for Massive Ordinance Air Blast-- in other words, a big bomb!

Creating new words from the battlefield isn't anything new.

"AND THAT HAPPENS AFTER EVERY WAR. AND IT'S A NATURAL PHENOMENON. "

--"Shellshocked" came out of World War I. --"Brainwashed" was a product of the Korean War; --"Fallout" is a Cold War term; --"Friendly Fire" was coined in Viet Nam.

Usually, it is the commanders and government leaders who create these terms.

The media in turn, pass them along to the public. Over time, the words and terms become sanitized...

Professor Frank Page says then, the realities become obscured.

Dr. Frank Page/Sociologist, Westminster College: "WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT "COLLATERAL DAMAGE".. THAT SOUNDS LIKE YOU JUST HIT A LITTLE MORE THAN YOU WANTED. YOU MISSED THE TARGET. BUT REALLY, IT MEANS YOU KILLING INNOCENTS. KILLING NON-COMBATANTS AND CIVILIANS."

One of the most descriptive terms is: "decapitation strike"... as in removing the head or leadership of a regime.

That did happen today,in a symbolic way as this statue of Saddam Hussein came tumbling down!

One oxymoron that's been used: "catastrophic success" That's a Pentagon term, for extremely quick victory.

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