The discussion of “armed gunmen” made me think of another term that may seem redundant but actually isn’t: warfighter. Language log discussed this in response to a video game reviewer, who chortled, apparently at some length, at the seeming silliness of the title of a recent game, “Medal of Honor: Warfighter”. The reviewer asks (rhetorically) why didn’t anybody raise their hand and object to this silly title when it was proposed. Professor Liberman responds that the term warfighter is accepted military jargon, has utility, and is not redundant, so clearly any objection to it would have been, and is, misplaced.
As to redundancy, I think warfighter clearly isn’t redundant, at least after a little reflection. One can fight in things other than wars, and one can serve in a war in a capacity other than fighting.
The term has utility because a) it includes the members of every branch of the armed forces, including soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen, b) it distinguishes between those who fight in a war and those in a support capacity, and c) it is gender neutral.
But the game reviewer’s point, really, is that it is a silly thing to call a video game, not so much that it is not useful as military jargon. Which, I think, is really a marketing question, which I know nothing about. But I do know something about video gaming, as a long-term gamer myself, and it does strike me, intuitively, as kind of a silly title. But I’m not sure that that’s really a “big deal”: it isn’t a spectacularly horrible name, I think, and I suspect, but don’t really know, that the appeal of a game’s title has relatively little impact on game sales, especially with regard to a long-running franchise, such as Medal of Honor.
Perhaps the term warfighter, “feels” redundant, even though it clearly isn’t, because the term is ... Superfluous? Unnecessary? Anti-climatic? In the context of a game about a member of the armed services. I don’t know that any game which is set in a “war” is not about a warfighter. It’s kind of like naming a game, “Medal of Honor: Servicemember who fights.”. Well sure, you are a member of the armed services in that game, and “servicemember” is an accepted jargon term (I think). But, seriously? “Medal of Honor: You’re The Cook” would be a far more surprising title.
And I am skeptical that the game is truly using the jargon term in the right context and in the right manner. I suspect that the game designers think the term connotes “badass” or “highly trained killing machine”. AFAIK, it doesn’t (many warfighters surely are badasses, but that is surely not the point of the term). It is an inclusive term for those who fight in a sustained military engagement, including situations, such as the US “presence” in Iraq) where no “war” has been declared.
Also, AFAIK, and based on the LL examples, warfighter appears to be primarily a Department of Defense term used by analysts when discussing or analyzing warfighters (and how to best train them, equip them, support them, deploy them, etc.) but not necessarily to be a term used by the actual “warfighters” themselves. So, as a piece of jargon, it seems somewhat out of place here. And ISTM that it is better to not use jargon at all than to use it incorrectly or awkwardly, unless the term is so “cool” that nobody will care that you technically misused it. Which doesn’t seem to be true, here.
Is anybody here familiar with the term? Do you have a better sense than me as to what it denotes and in what contexts it should be used in?