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"work detail; argot" (was: Weekly Vocab 3 and 4 in Ayeri)

From:Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 23, 2005, 16:41
Carsten Becker wrote:
> On Tuesday 25 November 2003 21:42 +0100, Christopher Wright > wrote: >
OOh, I remember these two; they were difficult in Kash too..... ---------------------------------
> "(5) Finally, Valjean escaped while on a work detail."
> (What's a "work detail"? I couldn't find it in the > dictionary and I couldn't grasp the meaning from looking up > other meanings of "detail", which seemingly can also mean > "command", "troop" or "patrol" or something like that)
Surprised it wasn't listed more specifically-- though the defs. you cite give the general idea. A "detail" in my experience is a smallish group of people who either volunteer, or are picked/assigned to perform some task. In some locales in the US, you see convicts in orange jumpsuits out along the highways, picking up litter, cleaning out the ditches etc... that's a work detail of the sort Valjean could have escaped from. The term is most familiar (to me) in that sort of context, or a military one. Whether "details" like that exist in the corporate (or other Real) world I don't know. Axion No. 1 in our (every?) military: "Never volunteer for anything!" So when the sergeant says "I need 4 volunteers for xxxxx", he simply points and says "you, you, you, and you". In boarding school, we had "work squad", essentially the same thing. Every day, esp. in the autumn when leaves needed raking up, 5 boys were assigned at random for the afternoon; everyone groused and groaned, but it was actually very pleasant...The very worst was the time-- due to some emergency or maybe a strike-- we had to go shovel coal at the School's power plant. At 50th Reunion a couple years ago, _all_ of us groaned from the memory as we drove by the old power plant. (Apologies for going off on an OT memory trip...)
> > 11. argot > > Victor Hugo took a few chapters right in the middle of > > the revolution to talk about argot. > > I couldn't find "argot" in my dictionary as well. >
Also surprising; it's French, and in Engl. ~['Ar\gVt] refers to the specialized slang of some (implied: stigmatized) sub-culture-- "thieves' argot" in particular. Similar to "jargon", except that refers more to specialized vocab. of professionals-- "medical ~legal jargon", "physicists' ~linguists' jargon". In modern usage, there's probably some overlap between the two terms.