首页 > VOA慢速英语 > 词汇典故 > [翻译字幕]Words and Their Stories - What’s a GI Joe?


[翻译字幕]Words and Their Stories - What’s a GI Joe?

This is Phil Murray with Words and Their Stories, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.

这里是美国之音慢速英语词汇典故节目,我是Phil Murray。

We tell about some common expressions in American English.


A “leatherneck” or a “grunt” do not sound like nice names to call someone. Yet men and women who serve in the United States armed forces are proud of those names. And if you think they sound strange, consider “doughboy” and “GI Joe.”

Leatherneck(海军陆战队)或grunt(步兵)听起来都不像是一个对他人的合适称呼,然而美军服役人员都引以为傲。如果你认为这些名称听上去很怪,那就想想步兵(doughboy)和特种部队(GI Joe)这两个名称。

After the American Civil War in the 1860s, a writer in a publication called Beadle’s Monthlyused the word “doughboy” to describe Civil War soldiers. But word expert Charles Funk says that early writer could not explain where the name started.

19世纪60年代美国内战之后,一家名为Beadle’s Monthly的刊物的作者使用doughboy这个词来称呼美国内战中的士兵。但词汇专家查尔斯·芬克(Charles Funk)表示,那位很久以前的作者无法解释这个名称的由来。

About twenty years later, someone didexplain. She was the wife of the famous American general George Custer. Elizabeth Custer wrote that a “doughboy” was a sweet food served to Navy men on ships. She also said the name was given to the large buttons on the clothes of soldiers. Elizabeth Custer believed the name changed over time to mean the soldiers themselves.

大约20年后,有人做出了解释,这个人就是美国著名将领乔治·卡斯特(George Custer)的妻子。伊丽莎白·卡斯特(Elizabeth Custer)写道,doughboy是供应给海军士兵的一种甜点,它得名于士兵军装上的大领扣。伊丽莎白·卡斯特认为,随着时间的推移,这个名称演变成指代士兵本身。

An American soldier in training

Now, we probably most often think of “doughboys” as the soldiers who fought for the Allies in World War I. By World War II, soldiers were called other names. The one most often heard was “GI,” or “GI Joe.” Most people say the letters GI were a short way to say “general issue” or “government issue.” The name came to mean several things: It could mean the soldier himself. It could mean things given to soldiers when they joined the military such as weapons, equipment or clothes. And, for some reason, it could mean to organize, or clean.

如今,我们可能更多地认为doughboys是指第一次世界大战中的盟军士兵。到了第二次世界大战,士兵们有了其它名称。最常听到的名称就是GI,或GI Joe。很多人说,GI这两个字母是general issue或者government issue的缩写。这个名称有多种意思,它可以指士兵,也可以指士兵参军后所发的物品,如武器,装备或服装。另外,由于某种原因,它也可以是整理或者清理的意思。

Soldiers often say, “We GI’d the place.” And when an area looks good, soldiers may say the area is “GI.” Strangely, though, “GI” can also mean poor work, a job badly done.


A doughboy statue at a studio in Loveland, Colorado

Some students of military words have another explanation of “GI.” They say that instead of “government issue” or “general issue,” “GI” came from the words “galvanized iron.” The American soldier was said to be like galvanized iron -- a material produced for special strength. The “Dictionary of Soldier Talk” says “GI” was used for the words “galvanized iron” in a publication about the vehicles of the early 20th century.

有些军事词汇学者对GI有另一种解释。他们说GI既不是指government issue,也不是general issue,GI源于galvanized iron这个词。美国士兵被说成是像白铁皮,这是一种用于特殊强度需求的物质。士兵常用语词典指出,在20世纪早期一份关于汽车的刊物中,GI被用于指代galvanized iron这个词。

Today, a doughboy or GI may be called a “grunt.” Nobody is sure of the exact beginning of the word. But the best idea probably is that the name comes from the sound that troops make when ordered to march long distances carrying heavy equipment.


People gather at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial to wait for the Independence Day fireworks over Washington, which can be seen from the memorial's grounds in Arlington, Virginia. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A member of the United States Marines also has a strange name: “leatherneck.” It is thought to have started in the 1800s. Some say the name comes from the thick collars of leather early Marines wore around their necks to protect them from cuts during battles. Others say the sun burned the Marines’ necks until their skin looked like leather.


This Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jeri Watson.

I’m Phil Murray.