I have a feeling I'll be making lots of posts inspired by Rick Atkinson's Day of Battle, about the Allies' WWII campaign in Sicily and Italy. Atkinson has a way with words and with anecdotes, some of which fit right into Talk Wordy. Here's two snippets I've come across recently: 1. On troops stationed in North Africa, we get a good English word and two interesting Arabic ones: "Snatches of Arabic seeded the soldiers' palaver, notably maleesh, 'no matter' and bardin, 'in a little while.' " (p. 40)
In this instance, palaver is used to mean (according to Webster's New World's second definition) "talk, especially idle chatter." It can also mean: "a conference or discussion, as originally between African natives and European explorers or traders" or "flattery, cajolery."
According to New World, palaver is derived from the Portuguese word palavra, meaing "a word, speech." Palavra is derived from the Latin word parabola, meaning parable.
2. On Gen. Dwight Eisenhower: "At times he could nitpick, grousing that 'not one officer in fifty knows how to use the English language' and supposedly cashiering an aide for failing to master the distinction between 'shall' and 'will' " (p.49) Cashier means to dismiss from service. Seems that while no one likes someone who goes around correcting their grammar, you can get away with it when you are the Supreme Commander of Allied forces in the Mediterranean theater.