Al Nofi's CIC
|| Issue #26, March 15, 2001
- Infinite Wisdom
- la Triviata
- Short Rounds
- "How Do You Say that In . . . ?"
- Evil Omens
- If Looks Could Kill
"It is the custom of the British to command the sea"
--Charles II reminding his
"Dear Cousin" Louis XIV
of one of the realities of
the seventeenth century
- King Mithridates of Pontus, one of Rome's most inveterate enemies, is believed to have spoken 22 languages.
- While visiting Japan as a midshipman in H.M.S. Baccante, the Prince of Wales - later King George V, the first of the "sailor kings" - did what many other young sailors have done, acquired a tattoo on his left forearm, to which he added a couple more during a naval career that lasted several years.
- On September 1, 1939, the first day of World War II, only one country did not have biplanes in first-line service, Japan.
- As punishment for failing to "go down with his ship," when it was sunk by a Turkish opponent, in 1829 a Russian frigate captain was sentanced to perpetual bachelorhood by Tsar Nicholas I, "lest the breed be perpetuated."
- The U.S. Navy today has fewer ships than at any time since the end of the Hoover administration.
- During the War of 1812 many regiments raised in New England included with some black men in the ranks, to the occasional great annoyance of senior army commanders of southern roots.
- In the early fourteenth century, there was a mercenary captain in the service of Florence who bore the not inappropriate name of de Rat.
- Although Stuarts and Shermans were supposedly inferior to German tanks, during 281 days of operations in Europe (August 1, 1944 - May 8, 1945), George S. Patton's Third Army destroyed 2,395 enemy tanks, including 862 Panthers and Tigers, for the loss of 1,250 of its own tanks, an exchange ration of almost exactly two German tanks for every American one.
"How Do You Say that In . . . ?"
Despite its numerous improbabilities, that highly improbable force, the Austro-Hungarian "Imperial-and-Royal" Army had a long, honorable, and glorious existence in the service of the House of Hapsburg. Among it's many peculiarities was the matter of language.
The army officially spoke no less than ten languages during the last decades of its long existence. There were outfits that spoke German (25% of the army), Hungarian (23%), Czech (13%), Serbo-Croatian (9%), Polish (8%), Ukrainian (8%), Romanian (7%), Slovak (4%), Slovene (2%), and Italian (1%). To help facilitate matters a bit all recruits had to learn about 800 words of "Command German," and all officers had to be fluent in both German and the regimental tongue. Needless to say, the polyglot nature of the army caused some difficulties, not the least of which were administrative. Actually, the situation was even worse than it appears.
While ten languages were officially spoken in the army, mobilization orders had to be issued in four different scripts, so that in a sense 14 different languages were required.