Language is a living thing. It evolves and changes with every generation. Sometimes a new word is created out of acronyms like ASAP, FUBAR and SNAFU. Other times, words are given new meaning, ie computer which referred a person not a product by Dell or Apple.
Some of our words come out of wars, such as over the top and no man’s land. Given that war involves the mixing of peoples who wouldn’t ordinarily mix, the increase in our vernacular shouldn’t be a surprise.
Except, sometimes you get thrown a curve ball and a word you took for granted bubbles up from murky depths not the rainbow and unicorn imaginings I’d believed.
While not all fronts during the Great War involved trenches, the trenches presented a unique kind of hell. Aside prospects of being buried alive if the walls collapsed, the dead occasionally bobbed up. Diseases, trenchfoot, fleas and lice ran rampant not just because of the muddy environment but because changing clothes, washing up and showering were not usually options.
During my research, I looked up treatments of lice. Men and lice are both communal creatures, so as close living quarters helped the lice spread, the war against lice became a social event as well. Men would meet up to pick nits off each other, run a candle along the seams of their clothing or crush the lice bugs. The name of this procedure was called ‘chatting up’ and you were invited over ‘to chat’. FMI
I get itchy just thinking about it.