• Interpret This: Correspondent Charles Levinson says that his civilian ears took a few days to grow accustomed to the salty language and the good-natured verbal harassment among US troops in Iraq. "They mercilessly insult each other and try to one-up one another with witty comebacks. The Iraqi interpreters, known as "terps," get the same treatment. I suppose it's an indication that they are one of the boys," says Charles.
But Charles asked an Iraqi interpreter working with the US military about it, since such repartee isn't common in Arab culture. "He told me that he used to get angry. Now he dishes it back."
The interpreter also has learned another kind of Army-speak. "When your English lessons are shaped by three years of working for the US Army, you develop quite a vocabulary of curse words and military acronyms. There were times when I didn't know what he was saying. For example, 'Ibrahim was KIAed by SAF on a CMOC patrol.' Translation: Ibrahim was Killed in Action by Small Arms Fire on a Civilian Military Operations Center patrol."
• Unwed Couples With Kids: Staff writer Peter Ford is married with children but has several French friends who fall into the large group of unmarried couples. None of them have separated. But Peter notes that the British economic professor that discovered a high incidence of single mothers in England is the first to have researched this correlation. "When I spoke to his French counterpart, she hadn't seen his research, and only when I pressed her to look at it did she seem interested. The alarm is just being raised in Britain, but the research hasn't been done elsewhere in Europe. The debate on this issue is just starting," he says.
David Clark Scott