The Russian Military, Cucumbers & Shaving Brushes!

Despite being Russian terms, all current and ex-soldiers will be able to appreciate the following: Ogourets: a soldier in their first six months of service (literally, a cucumber – referring to the colour green, which signifies inexperience). Pomazok: a soldier who has served more than one year and is therefore released from certain menial tasks… Read More


Military Legacy & Humility

When it’s all over, what are we left with? Aidos (Ancient Greek): the understanding of the need for humility at the point of victory. Gleichgultigkeit (German): the feeling of dreadful moral insensibility and detachment which is a peculiar legacy of wars. Reference de Boinod, A.T. (2007) Toujours Tingo. London: Penguin Books Ltd. pp.288.

War Trophies…

There are no limits to cruelty, savagery and treachery: Liput (Manobo, Philippines): to throw someone off guard. Usauara (Yamana, Chile): to shout, as a group of men, when ready to make an assault on someone they intend to kill. Ahaneoha’ov (Cheyenne, USA): to kill someone by stepping on him. Tsantsa (Jivaro, Ecuador): a human head… Read More

Battlefield Yellow-bellies…

On the battlefield, some individuals shy away: Ngivhe (Venda, South Africa): to hit with the butt-end of a spear (a blow given as a warning to escape). Rafizat (Persian): a body of soldiers who deserted their commander and retreated. Imboscari (Italian): to lie in ambush, to evade military service, to avoid working, or to retreat… Read More

Battlefield Heroes…

On the battlefield itself individuals make extraordinary sacrifices: Iwa Manyanga (Mambwe, Zambia): to fight one another crawling along on all fours. Mamakakaua (Hawaiian): the leading man in battle who bears the brunt of the fighting. Ohiampunut (Finnish): one who has survived in battle (literally, shot/fired past). Abhi-vira (Sanskrit): surrounded by heroes. Reference de Boinod, A.J.… Read More

Russian Cancer Forces!

Over the years the deadliness of the weapons involved in war has increased: Dagadaga (Sranan Tongo, Surinam): a machine gun. Plofstof (Afrikaans): explosive (literally, puff/bang stuff). Springstof (Dutch): an explosive (literally, jump water). Rakovye Voiska (Russian): strategic missile force (literally, cancer forces – referring to the numerous cancerous diseases caused by radiation). Reference de Boinod,… Read More

Dispute Resolution…

Dispute resolution has often been alarmingly violent: Gazi (Mauritanian dialect): a plundering raid in which at least forty camels are employed. Falurombolas (Hungarian): the destruction of villages. Schrecklichkeit (German): a deliberate policy of terrorising non-combatants. Edsabil (Maguindanaon, Phillipines): to fight until death for the cause of Allah. Nuulone (Anywa, Nilo-Saharan): a victory dance with rifles… Read More