I'm a Family

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We went to a wedding on Saturday, and I heard a very strange use of the word 'family'. As the man officiating at the wedding welcomed everyone, he referred to the guests in the customary way as friends and family. Then he began to address each person as a friend or a family. He continued on for a few minutes, referring to individual people by talking as if each person was either a friend or a family. Has anyone ever heard this sort of thing?

It sort of parallels how some people in the military use the word 'troop'. People at Language Log don't like it, but my friend who was in the Air Force says they referred to one airman as a troop all the time, from basic training all the way to the top of the ranks. It's apparently a pretty standard usage in the military. I can sort of hear talking of one troop as one person, though. One person as a family just doesn't sound like English.

3 Comments

I found in my Army days that the military distinguished between men and officers. Interestingly the men could go to the non-commisioned officer's club (NCO Club) but not the Officer's Club. Go figure.
But that was "back in the day," as they now say. With the modern era of women all over the place, I don't know how women figure into this taxonomy.

Clearly not all men were officers, but I sometimes wondered if officers were in some way not men. Hmm... Maybe women are allowed into the Officers Club. Nah, surely not.

I don't know what you mean by back in the day, but I believe my friend was in the USAF in the late 80s. This isn't a new linguistic phenomenon.

When I said it went up the ranks, I didn't mean officers were called troops. I meant people in basic training all the way up to officers called an individual a troop.

Geoff Pullum and Arnold Zwicky might not have accepted singular "troop", but I have:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001924.html.

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