1. hawky94
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    hawky94 Active Member

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    Military members and derogatory language.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by hawky94, Feb 26, 2011.

    Hey everyone,

    I'm writing a novel as many of you know, there are minor characters - soldiers who appear in the novel, professional British Army soldiers. Now when they are talking to each other in reference to the Taliban, are they necessarily going to use the Taliban when referencing them? Or may they use derogatory/racist language such as: Towelhead, sandmen... etc.

    I am in no way racist towards members of the Islamic faith, I just want to add as much realism as I can, but I don't want to overstep the mark and my work be deemed 'racist' and therefore unpublishable.

    Thanks.
     
  2. hawky94
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    hawky94 Active Member

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    I have no idea why I posted this in this sub-forum...
     
  3. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Only you can decide how far you want to go with this one. If you are talking about ground troops actually active in Afghanistan, who have perhaps been fired upon, or seen their comrades killed or maimed by terrorist land mines etc, then clearly it will be commonplace for them to describe their enemy in less than glowing terms, and to use derogatory terms such as those mentioned and probably much worse.

    If realism is important to you, then I see nothing wrong with reflecting that ugly truth. I would urge caution, however, with regard to any terminology that could be deemed insulting to the actual religion of Islam. That would be very thin ice to walk upon, in my opinion.
     
  4. hawky94
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    hawky94 Active Member

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    I agree, I'll just stick to the "safe" derogatory language... probably some swearing in there as well I'm guessing.
     
  5. spice
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    spice New Member

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    Similar to how Germans were "Jerry" in WW2, British forces in Afghanistan sometimes call Taliban "Terry." Some U.S. forces call them "spooks," the Russians used to call them "ghosts." Not sure if either of those is used by the British.

    Here's a few more bits of British military slang you might find helpful, but be really careful not to overuse this stuff!


    Gat - weapon
    Scoff - food
    Brew - hot drink
    Tab - march
    Zap/Brass up - to shoot
    Burst into flames - to smoke
    Lid/battle bowler - helmet
    Gimpy - L7A2 machine gun
    Long Silly Weapon - L86A2 LSW
    Bigger weapons are referred to by calibre usually, 51 (51mm mortar), 81 (81mm mortar), 84 (AT4 ILAW), 94 (LAW80)
     
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  6. hawky94
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    hawky94 Active Member

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    Thanks mate, this helps. I'm writing the scene up now, doing a million things though so it may take a while, you'll all have to scour it to find any faults/inconsistencies.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is no 'official' derogatory language in the British army, and officers who used such language on any report would face discipline charges. Unofficially, such terms exist of course, but only *prats use them. This is going way back. My father saw service in Aden, Bahrein and other middle Eastern countries, and he worked with the Turkish army in Cyprus as well. This kind of thing was out of date even in the 1970s-80s. People are more aware, and recruitment procedures try to weed out moronic racists.

    *Just recently, Prince Harry used the word 'Paki' as a joke and he got censure heaped on his head.
     
  8. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Form time to time I mix with these sort of fellas - Royal Marines largely - and I can confirm that moronic (verbal) racism is alive and kicking in their ranks. Raghead is a particular favourite. That said, words do not usually equate with deeds and it is clear to me that those same pub racists conduct themselves professionally and not without courtesy and compassion in Afghanistan etc etc
     
  9. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    Why don't you make up you own unique one, because all these names come from somewhere, as someone has made them up. You should mix things up a bit and use some of the traditional terms but also some made up ones, because not all soldiers are going to have the same name for everything, due to where they're stationed, where they came from originally, their own personal experiences, e.g. they may have had quite a rough time and have a lot of animosity towards the Taliban, rather than a young soldier who doesn't really know his way around like the older ones do and is new to the idea of racism etc.
     
  10. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You do seem to be confused on a couple of points. Islam is a religion, not a race, and so not something you can be "racist" towards. There are non-Arabs who follow Islam and Arabs who don't. And not all followers of Islam are Taliban; derogatory terms such as "towelhead" and "sandman" are likely to be used in reference to all Arabs rather than to Muslims or Taliban.
     
  11. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The key to not seeming racist, or intolerant yourself if perhaps have scenes or a view person character that are a native, and let it show that he or she and her friends and family is just ordinary people.
     

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