Army parlance

The army, being a centuries old organisation, has its own 'dictionary' of typical words.

The army personnel of different ranks have a typical way of pronouncing some common words and addressing other army personnel and individuals. Some are attributed to ignorance of correct word or pronunciation while many are accepted terms in army parlance.

In regular fighting infantry and other arms’ units, men’s limbs are often x-rayed for treatment of fracture (There are no major diseases in the troops as they have youth with the best health). The jawans and their families, who hail from rural background pronounce it as ‘x-raa.’ Jawans’ perception of any newly painted vehicle, equipment, aircraft, etc, is “gaadi ka CME hua lagto hai” (meaning the CEME inspection of the vehicle is done recently; inspection by Commander Electrical and Mechanical Engineers - a process in the army). There is a regular formal dinner for officers, in the officers’ mess.

It is called ‘dinner night’. The personnel from sepoys to JCOs call it as ‘night dinner’.
The other ranks and JCOs call the training exercises as ‘scheme’. The officers call it ‘exercise’. The ‘battalion’ is called ‘paltan’, by all ranks in army parlance.  The JCOs are fond of addressing themselves as ‘Naib Subedar saab’ and ‘Subedar saab’ when they speak on telephone, they say, “Mein so and so saab bolraha hun.” It is an accepted norm in the army. The officers right upto the rank of General also address them so.

The JCOs come up to that rank after several promotions from Sepoy’s rank. All the while they are addressed as ‘tu or tum’. Once they are promoted as JCOs (class II gazetted officers) they are addressed as ‘aap’, which they themselves ensure by addressing themselves as saab (JCOs rank was installed by the British when they raised the Royal Indian Army to rule the country. The JCOs were interface between officers and troops).
The jawans address officers’ wives in a typical way; they address wives of officers upto the level of battalion/ unit Second-in-Command (those days Major and now Lt Col) as ‘mem saab’ and ‘sir’ to wives of Commanding Officers, Brigade Commanders and above (general officers).

Children of army officers address safaiwala, mali, driver and batman (orderly) as ‘bhaiyya’ ( brother) and maid servant as ‘didi’ (elder sister). If any army officer speaks in derogatory terms, other officers start kidding with him asking, “Arrey yaar, which kanya, putri pathshala have you studied in?”  The officers refer to Commanders at every level (generally battalion and above) as ‘old man’, in the army parlance.

Every organisation has its own words/terms used by its employees; army being a centuries old organisation, the nomenclatures used by its men have gone into the lore of Indian Army.

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