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When did "Troop" become singular?

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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:15 PM
Original message
When did "Troop" become singular?
Edited on Sat Aug-27-05 02:20 PM by mcscajun
Seems to me this is a very, very recent coinage, either of the * cabal, the Corporate Media, the Freepers, or some mix of all of 'em.

Main Entry: troop
Pronunciation: 'trp
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French trope, troupe company, herd, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English thorp, throp village -- more at THORP
1 a : a group of soldiers b : a cavalry unit corresponding to an infantry company c plural : ARMED FORCES, SOLDIERS


Troop is one group of persons in military service, and therefore Troops would therefore be multiples of those groups.

It's a corruption, and awkward-sounding at that, to apply "troop" to One Individual; but since "trooper" has fallen out of favor, I don't know why, we get constructions like this: 10,000 troops sent to Fallujah. I made this up; I don't know if that was ever a headline. What's meant is that 10,000 people were sent, not more than that.

I think it's mostly because "soldiers, sailors, Marines and National Guards units" makes for a lousy headline, and it tells too much of the tale. "Troops" is a neat abstraction; it avoids precision and therefore, understanding and consideration for the individuals involved.

Main Entry: trooper
Pronunciation: 'tr-p&r
Function: noun
1 a (1) : an enlisted cavalryman (2) : the horse of a cavalryman b : PARATROOPER c : SOLDIER


Am I the only one bothered by this? (Donning flame-retardant gear for the anti-"word police" death squads.)

:shrug:
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. Unlike Latin, English is a living language.
Dictionaries follow usage, not vice versa. :shrug:
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. True...but that doesn't get to the cause or the when, does it?
?
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. That would be etymological. I find the OED useful for that.
Edited on Sat Aug-27-05 02:23 PM by TahitiNut
I remember the days (late 60's and early 70's) when a group of us IBM programmers called ourselves "COBOL F Troop." :silly:

(We understood the collective noun.)
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
4. And if ya wanna get technical, not all services use the term
You've got some that would never think of calling themselves a "troop." Navy? Never--they are Sailors, not troops. Marine? A Marine is a Marine. No trooping there, at all, ever. Army has been known to use it, but USAF usually goes for "airman" even if all the person is doing is flying a desk.

Also, you can figure the numbers when terms such as squads, squadrons, brigades, battalions, and so forth are used. How many in a troop?

I always thought the term referred to gorillas, or apes, or kangaroos...or some such...?

It is a civilian term, when applied with a broad brush like that. They do the same shit with "soldiers." Soldiers are in the ARMY, not the Navy, USMC, USAF or USCG. But they tend to use it in an interchangeable fashion to denote 'servicemembers'--which is the current generic term of choice within the Services.
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dogman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
5. My guess would be from drill seargents.
Edited on Sat Aug-27-05 02:35 PM by dogman
They love to create their own slang. Abbreviation of trooper.
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parasim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
6. I've often wondered the same thing
So, I've been doing a little sleuthing and found a couple of interesting mentions out on the internets regarding this quandary:

http://www.edebra.com/BISS/Troops.html
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001...
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001...

of course, none of these really answer the question at hand, but at least it shows there are others out equally confused.
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AlienGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
7. I think it's about abstracting, and therefore dehumanizing, the soldiers
People have an image in their head of "soldier" or "sailor" or "Marine." Often this image is the face of someone known to them, someone they care about. There is not the same kind of highly specific image for "troops" or "troop"--the image those words call up is vague and amorphous. So it's less troubling for people to hear that "troops have died," and it abstracts the people in the Armed Services into a principle that is either supported or not, instead of recognizing that they are individual people with their own opinions.

Tucker
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. I agree, just as the use of "Collateral Damage" is
Edited on Sat Aug-27-05 06:49 PM by WePurrsevere
The use of "troop" or "troops" being used instead of "soldier" takes away the humanity. When we think of a "troop" it's a group not just a singular person... such as my husband used to belong to a Boy Scout TROOP (Eagle/OOA).

When I first noticed the use of "collateral damage" was on 9-11 and remember saying to my husband "those people are not collateral they're human beings!" We feel the same way about "Troops"... those are HUMANS... they love, they fear, they bleed and too many die.

It's truly sad seeing the rise of dehumanization and the amazing lack of personal responsibility increasingly expressed these past few years.

edited to add a dropped letter. :banghead:
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-05 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. That's what got me started on this...
...it's interesting to hear it from someone else. :)
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 03:52 PM
Response to Original message
8. "Troop" as singular comes from Army drill sergeants:
As in, "Troop, yew bettah GIT yo head outen yo ass" (criticism) or "Young troop, yew lookin mighty STRAC in them tailored fatigues" (praise).

The usage, "10,000 troops" is NOT singular and is traditional English; addition of the "s" pluralizes it. "Troops" is often used in headlines because "troops" is shorter than "soldiers" and means the same thing.

(The STRAC acronym -- STRategic Army Corps -- dates my service: active duty 1959 through 1962, reserves until 1965. STRAC units were the best of the best, ready to ship out and fight at a moment's notice. Lots of spit and polish too: I know; I was in a STRAC unit stateside before I got sent to Korea.)
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mcscajun Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-05 11:08 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. I'm glad you explained the STRAC Acronym...
...when I got to that first instance, my hand went up for a question...but you covered it before I reached the end.

Hand down. :)
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win_in_06 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-27-05 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
9. Troop is okay


Soldier = army person
Sailor = navy person
Marine = self explanatory
airman = air force person
Trooper = one army cavalry soldier
Paratrooper = army soldier assigned to an airborne unit
grunt = infantryman (army or marine)


"troop" has emerged as the generic term for uniformed serviceperson
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allalone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-28-05 11:58 PM
Response to Original message
13. thank you
1 soldier is not a troop
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renie408 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-29-05 08:06 AM
Response to Original message
14. No, it bothers Andy Rooney, which is what he said last night.
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