One of my Many Pet Peeves Troop vs Trooper or Soldier

English is not my native language, Spanish is. I also speak Italian, Portuguese and I am fluent one hundred percent in all these languages. But I admit that I make typos and several mistakes when I write in my non-native languages, but I always try to learn and speak better, even in Spanish and I am always willing to learn from my mistakes. That is why I am a serious critic of misconduct in expressions in the languages mentioned above.

So here it goes, my pet peeve of today: Troop VS Trooper

I often hear reporters on American TV channels talking about “troops”. The first time when I listened to that word being misused was when the war in Afghanistan was being announced by different TV reporters back in October 2001.

They were mentioning the amount of “troops” that President George Bush was sending. I was astonished! They said ten thousand of them were parting from USA. So I started to make my own calculations and said well, if a troop has a minimum of 3 to 5 platoons;

One platoon has 2 to 4 squads, and each squad has 10 to 14 troopers or soldiers, then a platoon has about 50 soldiers, then a troop has a minimum of 250 men. If President George Bush was sending 10,000 troops then he was sending about 2, 500,000 (two and a half million) soldiers or troopers!

And next week they said more “troops” were leaving to the Middle East. By then I knew how erroneous and non-well educated in their own language they were: when they were saying “troops” they were referring to a singular, to one man, which is wrong.

For some English speakers a “trooper” is a mounted soldier. For others, a “trooper” is a policeman who patrols the roads of a U.S. state in a car.

As to “how a plural word becomes singular,” the answer has to be “by being used that way.”

However, just because a usage is widespread or has been added to a dictionary doesn’t mean that it is worth adopting.

Orwell’s objection to the use of inflated Latin words applies to the use of troop to stand for soldier.

The worst thing of all is that 17 years have gone by and I still hear it and read it. I can´t stop stupidity!

4 thoughts on “One of my Many Pet Peeves Troop vs Trooper or Soldier”

  1. I have wondered about the use of that word in the past before – sometimes I’ve heard the expression “we will be sending 1,000 boots on the ground” … English is an extremely difficult language to learn as there are so many words with double meanings, spelled the same … way different meanings. And how about the double entendres or sly little words that are offensive or sexually oriented when you are not intending to convey that at all! You are lucky to know so many language Martha. I studied French as a youngster when I lived in Canada as it was mandatory, but we moved to the States when I was ten and my parents did not speak French – it had been years since my mom took French and my father was German. so, no French until my first year in college and I had forgotten most of it. I have not spoken French or used French now in forty years – how sad.

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    1. Oh, French is such a romantic language, Linda. My daughter married a German guy who is adorable and now he is teaching me German too. My daughter speaks it fluently now. Do you remember your time living in Canada? It must have been very nice.

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      1. Yes, I am sorry that I had no one to speak French with and did not keep up with it. My last year of school in my French classes we were not allowed to speak English at all. I never learned to trill my Rs properly though so I didn’t sound authentic. 🙂 I liked living in Canada and my father was transferred with Ford Motor Company in Oakville (where we lived, about 25 miles from Toronto) to Ford Motor Company in Woodhaven, close to where I live. I am still Canadian and not an American citizen. My mom missed her homeland terribly after we moved because her Mom still lived there. My father had no family back in Germany so he had a difficult time understanding how she felt. I have no family in Canada (or anywhere for that matter), but I still retain my citizenship.

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  2. Don’t forget to support the troops, as they say. Funny thing, as pompous as reporters are about their intelligence, that they sound like idiots in the process. That’s a win-win in my book. If you really want a laugh, ask a reporter a question about economics. If you hear “Paul Krugman” you can be certain they have no idea what they’re talking about.


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