General Wargaming

What´s in a name

Posted by Paul on 11 Aug 2009, 20:02

After thinking about it, as one does, then thinking a bit harder it finally occured to me where I´d seen the word/name grognard before,
http://www.grognard.com/

The Limits of your Vocabulary are the Limits of your World
Courtesy of Alan Emrich

We frequently bandy about the term "grognard" among our fellow wargaming hobbiests. Often, online and in print publications, people have speculated about the origin of this label for veteran wargamers -- who coined this term that has been adopted as part of our hobby's lexicon, how did it get popular, and what is its root meaning? Allow me to present the real story, as told by the Dean of Board Wargaming himself, Jim Dunnigan:

"The term 'grognard,' as applied to veteran wargamers, was first coined back in the early 1970's by John Young. He was, at that time, an employee for [the board] wargame publisher SPI, and the use of the term around the office (and among the local play testers) soon led to 'grognards' being mentioned in one of SPI's magazines (Strategy & Tactics). Several hundred thousand board wargamers picked up the term from that publication and it spread to computer wargamers, as the the board wargamers (the ones with PCs, of course) were the first people to snap up computer wargames when they appeared.

"Consider this a first hand account, not an urban legend. I actually heard John Young utter it the first time and was one of the people who razzed him about it for some time thereafter. I was also the one who actually put the term into circulation in Strategy & Tactics [during my tenure there as Editor].

"Alas, John Young passed away in 1976 (or was it 77?). I can confirm that also; I was at the funeral. Now you know. . ." -- Jim Dunnigan



Grognard: a soldier of Napoleons' Old Guard; a veteran soldier; grumbler (French) - Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed

Grognard: (slang) an experienced wargamer - John Young, Strategy & Tactics magazine


Odd how the mind works 8) (well mine at least :-) )
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Paul  China

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Posted by luchs on 11 Aug 2009, 21:12

so i said that now we lack a "grunt"..
grunt is the us army's equivalent fro grognard.. :mrgreen:
grognard was also the butler of the famous belle epoque thief "arsenio lupen"..
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Posted by je_touche on 12 Aug 2009, 10:30

It seems most languages have their aquivalent for an old 'grumbling' veteran. Not so in German (or does anybody know of any?).

'Stary Wiarus' comes to mind in Polish, but this is a veteran no longer on active service me thinks.
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Posted by Roland_Kupski on 13 Aug 2009, 13:39

"Alter Haudegen" is used for a veteran who was - or acclaims to have been - a very couragious soldiers, that means at least most of them :-).
Semantically I would translate grognard - grumbling - best with "Knorz", in our lower-Hessian dialect we have the wounderfoul word "Knuttersack".
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Posted by luchs on 13 Aug 2009, 14:21

in italy we said "najone", the word "naja" mean the army's draft service..
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Posted by Fenton on 15 Aug 2009, 02:47

Grunt might come from (Government Reject Unfit for Normal Training)


But I couldnt be sure
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Posted by Paul on 15 Aug 2009, 11:31

je_touche wrote:It seems most languages have their aquivalent for an old 'grumbling' veteran. Not so in German (or does anybody know of any?).

'Stary Wiarus' comes to mind in Polish, but this is a veteran no longer on active service me thinks.

Landser ??
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Posted by je_touche on 15 Aug 2009, 11:54

Paul wrote:Landser ??


A Landser is not necessarily a 'grumbling veteran', but yes, it may have been used like that back in the 1940s. Just for soldiers of the Wehrmacht, not with the older German armies.
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Posted by Roland_Kupski on 15 Aug 2009, 12:31

"landser" means (pragmatically) the same as "poilu": the simple soldier, the "frontschwein" (opposition: the "Etappensau"). semantically it means the landsknecht, the mercenary, poilu is the bearded one.
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Posted by je_touche on 15 Aug 2009, 14:56

Roland, that is right of course. I never-ever heard or read 'Landser' attached to a front soldier of WWI, e.g., let alone one of the wars of the 19th century, so it seems to be a fairly new word. Correct me please if you know of a different usage.
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Posted by Paul on 15 Aug 2009, 17:43

Found something for grunt;
Entry-level work is sometimes referred to as grunt-work. The phrase "grunt work" originates from the military. A "grunt" pole is a log temporarily strung between two trees at a temporary "camp" in the field. A hole or trench is dug along one side of the pole. The pole is used to sit on by the soldiers while they are having a bowel movement. Hence the word - grunt. The "grunt work" was usually assigned to the soldiers of the the lowest rank as it was not the most desirable, especially when the camp was ready to be moved. However, most military soldiers (both officers and the ranks), get a chance to "practice" this endeavour while they are doing their initial basic training.
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