Language: May 2005 Archives

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.

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