Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 16:55:49 -0600

From: Thomas Creswell creswell[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CROWN.NET

Subject: Re: VETERANS DAY SPECIAL: World War

Gregory {Greg} Downing wrote:

At 11:39 AM 11/15/97 -0500, you wrote:

On Sat, 15 Nov 1997, Gregory {Greg} Downing wrote:

In 1919 they were innocent enough not to realize they would need to number

them (that's not an original comment from me; I read or heard it somewhere).

Actually, the term _First World War_ appears at least as early as 1920.

In that year, Charles a Court Repington published a book entitled _The

First World War, 1914-1918_.

Well, I should know by this point never to rely on what a historian says

about language-usage -- they're historians "rerum," not historians

"verborum" aka etymologists....

But who knew there'd be a second in 1920, besides maybe John Maynard Keynes

in his _Economic Consequences of the Peace_ (1919)? I wonder what CaCR's

insight/agenda/etc. was in assigning an ordinal in 1920? Do you know off the

top of your head from having seen the cite? Seems like titling the book that

in 1919 would be a pretty provocative thing to do. Maybe the pessimistic

aspect of postwar mood or Zeitgeist was at work (cf. the huge success of

Spengler's _Untergang des Abendlandes_/_Decline of the West_ in about

1919-20 right after the book appeared).

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Has it not occurred to anyone to read the book title _First World War_as

"First Ever World War" in other words "This book is about the first

world war that has ever occurred"?

That reading seems more likely to me than any reading ascribing

prescience to the author. Ambiguity is a characteristic of language.