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Drill sergeants’ language

by
26 September 2014

September 25th, 1914.

LORD KITCHENER has taken pains to impress upon the men of his new army the duty of sobriety. This is well, but from all we hear, we are inclined to think that a word from his lordship on temperance of language would not come amiss. Drill sergeants of the old school that pointed its instruction with oaths and obscenities are now engaged in drilling men who are drawn from classes happily unaccustomed to foulness of speech, and the result is that the stronger men among them are deeply offended, while the weaker ones are in danger of being led to suppose that to be a soldier is to have a foul tongue and an unclean mind. . . It would be easy for the War Office to issue a general order that the times call for new methods - autres hommes, autres moeurs. In common fairness it should be said that the persons we have criticized are often merely the followers of a tradition, and interlard their commands with words and phrases which they intend for mere unmeaning expletives that are supposed to add force to what they desire to convey to "Johnny Raw"; but the practice is as inane as, on moral grounds, it is reprehensible, and we hope that the military authorities, now that their attention has been drawn to the matter, will deem it worthy of their prompt consideration.

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