Advertisement

Fritz and Tommy

Across the Barbed Wire
  • Peter Doyle
  • Robin Schäfer
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Languages at War book series (PASLW)

Abstract

The war between ‘Fritz’ and ‘Tommy’ — respectively German and British soldiers1 — commenced once the British Expeditionary Force, landing in France in early August 1914, took up its pre-determined position in the line in support of the French. From this point on, the armies of both nations would develop their own soldiers’ speech — Soldatensprache or ‘trench slang’ — which would be continuously shaped through four years of war. It is interesting to compare the natures of these languages, of their differences, their similarities and their emergence through the shared experience of the war. In this essay, we examine aspects of the languages of the two foes, considering both their commonality and their differences. This paper represents, as far as we know, the first attempt to compare the development of ‘war slang’ in the two armies. As such it very much represents a first step in the wider comparative exploration of two distinct ‘trench languages’. In writing this essay, we draw upon our work exploring the shared experience of the British and German troops on the Western Front (Doyle and Schäfer 2015).

Keywords

Shared Experience Private Collection British Army German Army British Troop 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Atkinson, Captain C. F. (1916) Dictionary of English & German Military Terms, London: Hugh Rees Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, Karl (1918) Kriegsbriefe des Leutnants Karl Beck 1914–1917, Stuttgart: privately published.Google Scholar
  3. Bell, D. H. (1929) A Soldier’s Diary of the Great War, London: Faber & Gwyne.Google Scholar
  4. Bergmann, Karl (1916) Wie der Feldgraue spricht, Giessen: Alfred Töpelmann.Google Scholar
  5. Bertsch, Albert (1938) Wörterbuch der Kunden- und Gaunersprache, Berlin: Junker und Dünhaupt.Google Scholar
  6. Brophy, John, and Partridge, Eric (1930) Songs and Slang of the British Soldier, 1914–1918, London: Eric Partridge.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, Captain G. M. [‘G. B. Mainwaring’] (1918) If We Return: Letters of a Soldier of Kitchener’s Army, London: John Lane, The Bodley Head.Google Scholar
  8. Catalogue of War Literature Issued by H.M. Government 1914–1919 (1921) London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  9. Cook, Tim (2013) ‘Fighting Words: Canadian Soldiers’ Slang and Swearing in the Great War’, War in History 20, 323–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Doyle, Peter, and Schäfer, Robin (2015) Fritz & Tommy: Across the Barbed Wire, Stroud: History Press.Google Scholar
  11. Doyle, Peter, and Walker, Julian (2012) Trench Talk: Words of the First World War, Stroud: History Press.Google Scholar
  12. Empey, Arthur Guy (1917) Over the Top: By an American Who Went, New York: A. L. Burt.Google Scholar
  13. An Exchanged Officer [Lieutenant Malcolm Vivian Hay] (1916) Wounded and a Prisoner of War, Edinburgh: William Blackwood.Google Scholar
  14. Fraser, Edward, and Gibbons, John (1925) Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Graff, Sigmund, and Bormann, Walter (1925) Schwere Broden: 1000 Worte Front-Deutsch, Magdeburg: Stahlhelm-Verlag.Google Scholar
  16. Holmes, Richard (2004) Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front 1914–1918, London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  17. Nettleingham, T. (1917) Tommy’s Tunes, London: Erskine Macdonald.Google Scholar
  18. O’Toole, Thomas (1916) The Way They Have in the Army, London: John Lane.Google Scholar
  19. ‘Tommy Atkins, Linguist’ (1916) in: Frederick Treves (ed.), Made in the Trenches, London: George Allen & Unwin, pp. 97–9.Google Scholar
  20. ‘Trench Slang’ (1916) The War Budget, 23 March 1916.Google Scholar
  21. Treves, Frederick (ed.) (1916) Made in the Trenches, London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  22. War Office (1922) Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War 1914–1918, London: HMSO.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Doyle
  • Robin Schäfer

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations