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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Known Unto God


Peter Woodger

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Hi

I suspect that I have seen more Headstones of unidentified soldiers in cemeteries of WW1in France and Belgium than the majority of journalists.

Why do I make this outrageous claim? Well, I have seen many times the words, chosen by Kipling, “Known Unto God” but have yet to see the words “Known Only Unto God” which the journalists of today seem to prefer.

Do correct me if I have missed the Only.

Do these journalists ever leave their desk to research what they are writing about?

Peter

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Thats because they may have an 'O' Level in English language and are correcting Kipling.

Mick

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It was the "language" of the day. We often see that the English language changes from one decade to the next. Incidentally, aren't we all known to God?? ;)

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Kipling's intention was that an unidentified soldier's grave would not say that he was unknown. It would say that he was known.

Tom

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Mick

You could well be right

Evil and Tom

The point I am making is why must Journalists tell their readers that the words include only when they do not. It looks as if accuracy does not matter.

Peter

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Sadly, the VAST majority of journalists know diddly about WW1. I would also contend that the level of general ignorance amongst the fraternity is at an all time low.

There are certain times of year when journos get 'lumbered' (as many of them see it) with the WW1 story ... 1st July, Nov. 11 etc etc

The average 20-something journo has little or no empathy with the events of this period and thus we see all manner of mistakes in casualty figures, cliches by the bucket-load and, of course, cock-ups.

This is not a plea in mitigation because, as one of the journos with an interest in WW1 (and history in general) I find some of the howlers to be painful reading.

Des

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What makes this journalism worse is that the statement “Known Only Unto God” is placed next to a picture of a grave with the actual “Known Unto God”

Mick

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Apologies to decent journalists, but how can the others distort the truth if they write the actual words used?

Sadly, journalists verifying what they write, including spelling and grammer, has gone out the window these days.

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"Known Unto God" was not colloquial English even in those days. I would suggest Kipling chose an old English biblical phrasing. But whatever the intent, the phrase is simply saying (in the present tense) that God knows who he is, even if his fellow man can no longer be sure. It is economic with the number of words, but nonetheless says it all.

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Sadly, journalists verifying what they write (...) has gone out the window these days.

Thanks to the www, the amount of sources has increased dramatically. In the 80's, if I wanted to write an article about the opening day of the Somme offensive, the only sources I had were books or experts. Nowadays I don't have to go to a library anymore or look for a phonenumber of an expert. I simply type "Somme 1 july 1916" and get links to no less than 48.700 sources.

Often it's hard to say which is written by an expert and which is written by a total idiot. And since journalists still have the habit of copying what colleagues have written, a mistake can become the truth for many reporters ("in the first hours of the Somme offensive 60.000 soldiers were killed"; another classic...)

Roel

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