Martens, leopards and language: Don’t go all tanky here, you rag!

The German tank debate is one step further. The fact that the sentence you have just read would immediately lead to inquiries about category, design and type is one of the side effects that can be observed in this country after almost a year of disputes about delivery to the Ukraine.

The part of the population that consumes news has, whether they want to or not, accumulated some detailed knowledge about combat equipment and now knows it like only members of the army, military nerds or tank quartet owners used to.

And that’s not all. What trickled into the collective knowledge reservoir parallel to various great big cat names was the highly astonishing realization that tanks are very different from what people thought when they were less informed.

Apparently, tanks are not extremely robust and unbreakable, they are not rolling fortresses that clear everything that gets in their way, and they are not life rafts that can be transported anywhere for dangerous situations of any kind.

Dealing with them takes nerve like Mariah Carey’s tour manager

Instead, they became known to the general public (which makes the wild Russian reactions to the delivery announcements all the more incomprehensible) as unreliable and far too complicated, as rarely or not at all available, as a permanent problem and in permanent need of a makeover. Like divas, they were sometimes described more or less clearly. One suspects that anyone who gets involved with them needs nerves like Mariah Carey’s tour managers.

Will this remain without consequences? Firstly for looking at the armaments industry (Hello? Can you build it differently?) and secondly for the colloquial use of the word? So far, the tank has been used where hardness and other seriousness are involved.

Think of safes. Can this determinative compound survive the shift in meaning that is currently taking place? Can it stay the way it is when the expression “Now don’t go into tanks here, you rag” is established for obvious weakness simulants?

But there could be one good thing about the change: the fact that even armor does not stand for what was previously considered certain could perhaps also motivate those who had previously been well armored to be more willing to interpret semantically.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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