Why Panzers?

Discussion in 'General' started by Auditman, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Auditman

    Auditman Senior Member

    One thing that has intrigued me for a while is the use of German words in general use when we do not do so for any other country.

    For example we have British tanks, American tanks, Japanese tanks but German Panzers.

    Similarly British, American & Japanese submarines but German U-Boats.

    Just to get the all-arms approach, British, American and Japanese air force but Luftwaffe.

    How has this developed?

    Jim
     
  2. L J

    L J Senior Member

    One thing that has intrigued me for a while is the use of German words in general use when we do not do so for any other country.

    For example we have British tanks, American tanks, Japanese tanks but German Panzers.

    Similarly British, American & Japanese submarines but German U-Boats.

    Just to get the all-arms approach, British, American and Japanese air force but Luftwaffe.

    How has this developed?

    Jim
    well ,talking about British and American UBooats would be ... "special":D
    and I think,that there are very few people knowing the Japanese for air force,tanks,U-Boats :D
     
  3. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    One thing that has intrigued me for a while is the use of German words in general use when we do not do so for any other country.

    For example we have British tanks, American tanks, Japanese tanks but German Panzers.

    Similarly British, American & Japanese submarines but German U-Boats.

    Just to get the all-arms approach, British, American and Japanese air force but Luftwaffe.

    How has this developed?

    Jim

    Well, each country follows his own traditions. The French call their air force the Armée de l'Air - Air Army, same for the Spanish, Ejército del Aire. Luftwaffe literally means Air Arm. My own air force and a lot of Latin American countries until the 50s +/- was called Arma da Aeronáutica, roughly Aeronautic Arm, while the Italians use Aeronautica Militare.

    Panzer means Armour, simple as that. The 'others' use a strange name, originally 'water tanks', which was the cover name for the official designation 'Land Battleships' (originally belonging to the Royal Navy) but Tanks just caught on still in WW1. So it's you who are using the whimsical version :)

    As for U-boats, it's short for Unterseeboote - Undersea Boats. Submarine comes crookedly from Latin and simply means Undersea. Undersea can be anything, from duck's feet to intercontinental telephone cables, so the German term is more specific. I have no idea how the Japanese say it :)
     
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Thank the Goebbels propaganda machine for those German words entering English usage.
     
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  5. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Just to get the all-arms approach, British, American and Japanese air force but Luftwaffe.

    Oh, and Royal Flying Corps up to 1918, when the RAF was created to absorb the RFC and the Royal Naval Air Service. Also:

    * Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps 1 August 1907–July 18, 1914
    * Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps 18 July 1914–May 20, 1918
    * Division of Military Aeronautics 20 May 1918–May 24, 1918
    * U.S. Army Air Service 24 May 1918–July 2, 1926
    * U.S. Army Air Corps 2 July 1926–June 20, 1941*
    * U.S. Army Air Forces 20 June 1941–September 18, 1947*
    * United States Air Force 18 September 1947–present.

    Japanese Self-Defense Air Force since 1954, Imperial Japanese army Air Service before that.

    And the VVS - Voenno Vozdushnye Sily - Military Air Forces, created as the Workers' and Peasants' Air Fleet!

    So why that Britcentric view? :)

    And yes, Owen, I am fully convinced that Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the most competent nazi of all, his work still endures.
     
  6. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Thank the Goebbels propaganda machine for those German words entering English usage.
    This reminds me of a group of neo-nazis I once met. The w@nkers were unable to spell, let alone pronounce 'Wehrmacht' with the minimum of propriety :lol:
     
  7. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Jim an interesting question.

    English has always been brilliant at subsuming foreign words into the language and making them its own. We wouldn't even query bungalow or pyjamas now for instance and a lot of military jargon was picked up from the Colonies and various foreign campaigns.

    In the case of German terminology, it may be proximity of geography and time - the fact that Germany instigated the war that brought their words more into focus. So, I think it would have been easier to differentiate between 'ours and theirs' by using their terms - why say German planes when one word suffices?

    As for Za's mention of the German being more specific - the language tends to lump several words together to be descriptive in a new term - hence Fliedermaus for bat - but I've seen plenty of references to wadis, bocage and to Carabinieri for instance to say that it wasn't just German words that were used. So I think too, in some cases it's easier to use a word already invented than to make one of our own for English.

    What I do find peculiar, is the use of U-Boat, not U-Boot , but then we Brits would be too lazy to pronounce it correctly !! Another example perhaps of taking terminology and making it English.

    I don't think you are going to get a definitive answer to how it developed, but I'd imagine that Owen hit the nail on the head in that many German terms were brought to the forefront thanks to Goebbels' propaganda.
     
  8. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    I think this is one question that seems simple; but is actually a lot deeper. However I think Owen nailed it, at least partly.

    Britain invented the tank, no matter how many designs came before, it was the first producable weapon of its type that was effective. Because we won the war, I'm guessing thats why the term Panzer is no longer in use outside of germany.

    However; thanks to the german properganda machine and their skilled engineers (or at least designers), they created something beyond the tank; their own unique take, the stylized image of which is still incredibly vivid today.

    These vehicles were effectively anthropomorphized after their early crushing victories. A steel beast of terror for some, the romantic (and incidentally untrue) vision of a blitzkreig (and rolling across open planes with the cupola open) to others The germans played to this, and started giving them (less german) animal names, like the Tiger, Panther, elephant etc.

    I think this is why we get book and games with interchangable words to make titles like panzer/whirlwind/Assault/steel/iron/beast/cats; all of which envision a living animal with a metal heart.
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Was struck today by how many modern Armour crews - serving or recent - seem to refer to their vehicles as 'Panzers' when chatting shit online.
    Certainly relatively common on arrse & assorted other services sort of FB/twatter chat.

    It's undeniable, and I think Owen nails it - Goebbels was good at his job.
    Despite all the in-depth enquiries and improvement in understanding of WW2 tanks, I suspect we've a long way to go before the Panzerwaffe loses the 'romance' many associate with it. If it ever does.
     
  10. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Modern RAC usage of 'panzers' probably owes more to 50 years of BAOR than anything else.
     
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  11. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    My English dictionary has the word panzer in it, so presumably it would pass as a usable word in scrabble etc ;-)

    Panzer 1) armoured troops 2) heavily armoured (panzer division) [The word comes from German = coat of mail]

    Tank (has a far larger entry, understandably given its varied usages) but of 2) it says a heavily armoured fighting vehicle carrying guns and moving on a tracked carriage.- but the word ultimately comes from Gujurati tankh etc. perhaps from Sanskrit tadaga pond.

    On the BBC site: BBC - Radio 4 Making History - Tanks in WW1

    Brief summary
    It was at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme, in September 1916, that tanks first went into action. If there is an originator of the tank it was Lt Col (later Major-General) Sir Ernest Swinton. He proposed the concept of a land battleship, an idea taken up by Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty. The first experimental tank was finished in December 1915 and three months later the HQ of what known as the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps was set up at Bisley in Surrey with Col Swinton. This section was moved to Elveden in Suffolk on 200 acres of Lord Iveagh's estate. The whole programme was so secret that locals were warned that they would be shot on sight if they went past a particular point. The first tanks arrived slowly, travelling at three miles per hour from the nearest station. Six companies were set up and training went ahead, though it was all soon moved to Bovington in Dorset where the government had bought land. That site gave more space and greater isolation.

    Even the word 'tank' was designed to confuse - people would think of something used for storing water rather than a war machine.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    You raise an interesting question. Many military words have migrated as a matter of military fashion. It is often, but not always by an innovating or dominant military power.

    The ancient Greeks gave us Captain and Strategy

    Ancient Rome gave us corporal, cohort legion and indirectly sergeant

    Back in the C 16th the Spanish gave us the words Colonel and Regiment.and the French "Captain General" and "Lieutenant"

    In the C17th the Hungarian irregular conscripted Hussars (one in twenty) spawned copies across Europe with pellises across their shoulder..

    C18th Germany gave us Jaegers

    The French gave us all kepi wearing Chasseurs

    "Tank" of course is a British code word intended to deceive. In some languages the word is some variation of "tank." The French , who also invented tanks, called them Chars d'Assault. In others it is some translation of the prosaic Armoured fighting vehicle - such as German and Italian.

    Panzer is the German word for Armour but sounds sexier than Chars d'Assult. To be fair, the German panzer division created a bigger impact on world affairs than tanks did on the outcome of WW1. There is a sort of fake sophistication about using German words "Panzer" or "Luftwaffe" which we don't extend to the Italian or Japanese equivalents,

    The ARSEpedia entry sums it up

    Panzer is the German word for Tank but sounds miles more warry don't you think. rmy
     
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  13. Gary Kennedy

    Gary Kennedy Member

    I remember reading through a wartime British report that kept referring to 'the GAF' and wondering what the heck that meant. I'll admit that it took me a while to click it meant 'German Air Force' because I was certainly expecting to see Luftwaffe. I've seen references in British authored pieces to German Armoured Divisions rather than Panzer Divisions, though sometimes juxtaposed with Panzer Grenadier Regiment, possibly because calling them Armoured Grenadier might incorrectly imply they were of the halftrack variety.

    There's certainly a habit among authors to use German terminology (Gruppe, Zug, Schützen, Aufklärung, etc) rather than the Br/US equivalent that authors rarely repeat in other languages. How many people know what RKKA is offhand, I'll just say Red Army, and no one knows that Sensha is armoured in Japanese (well, admittedly the Japanese do, but my book's for the US/UK audience, so I'll just say Japanese tanks).

    Personally I've never got my head around all those shorthand versions for titles of French Army units and formations and always have to look it up, I thought acronyms proliferation was a modern day affliction!

    Key to Abbreviations

    Gary
     
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