On August 7th, the US marked the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the basis for the Johnson administration’s escalation of American military involvement in Southeast Asia and war against North Vietnam.
A new book, Vietnam War Slang: A Dictionary on Historical Principles (Routledge, 2014) by Tom Dalzell, outlines the context behind the slang used by members of the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
War has always been an incubator for slang; it is brutal, and brutality demands a vocabulary to describe what we don’t encounter in peacetime civilian life. The troops in Vietnam faced the usual demands of war, as well as several that were unique to Vietnam – a murky political basis for the war, widespread corruption in the ruling government, untraditional guerilla warfare, an unpredictable civilian population in Vietnam, and a growing lack of popular support for the war back in the US. For all these reasons, the language of those who fought in Vietnam was a vivid reflection of life in wartime.
Vietnam War Slang lays out the record of the lexicon of Americans who fought in the Vietnam War. It is an essential resource for Vietnam veterans and their families, students and readers of history, and anyone interested in the principles underpinning the development of slang.
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