May 12, 2005

Insurgent Midgets in Iraq?

On the local news last night there was a report about the death of a local man in Iraq. According to the report, he was killed by small enemy arms fire. In spite of the extensive news coverage of the Iraq war, I haven't heard a word about the enemy being unusually small, or one subroup of them being unusally small. In all probability what was meant was enemy small arms fire. Size may not matter, but word order does.

My guess is that the reporter started out saying that the soldier was killed by small arms fire, presumably in contradistinction to a bomb, which seems to be the most common cause of violent death these days in Iraq, and from heavy weapons such as artillery and aircraft cannon fire. Then he or she decided to add the information that this was not a case of a soldier being killed by what is euphemistically called friendly fire, but mistakenly inserted the word enemy into the middle of the phrase small arms. I'm not sure why. Maybe its a production error: perhaps the reporter had already started to say small and rather than back up and start over inserted enemy at the earliest opportunity.

Posted by Bill Poser at May 12, 2005 05:27 PM