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  •  Similar to German Jaeger (7+ / 0-)

    "Tirailleur" does tend to translate closer to the German expression "Jaeger" as used in a military context, doesn't it?  By WW1, it's meaning had been kind of lost compared to the term as used in Napoleonic times.  During Boney's times, the French did differentiate a lot between regiments de ligne and the tirailleurs. who were that cloud of shooters deployed in front of the main battle line trying to disrupt the enemy's lines and shield it from fire as the main battle line advanced.  By WW1, most of the world's armed forces with any long history used the terms to designate units with special histories and markings, because everybody fought in loose formations and was firing a rifle.

    "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

    by PrahaPartizan on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:27:15 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  My Le Robert Micro dictionary (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jay C, PeterHug, PrahaPartizan, devtob

      Gives two definitions of the noun le tirailleur:

      1.  Soldat détaché pour tirer à  volonté sur l'ennemi. Soldats déployés en tirailleurs, en lignes espacées sans profondeur.

      2. Soldats de certaines troupes d'infanterie hors du territoir métropolitain (français) et qui étaient formés d'autochtones. Trirailleurs algeriéns, sénégalais.

      While my French is weaker than I wish it were, the first definition refers to detached soldiers who are to skirmish at will with the enemy. The second refers to French soldiers from outside metropolitan France, such as Algerian or Senegalese soldiers fighting under the French flag.
      •  A simple translation, Ernest: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        devtob, Margouillat


        1. Soldier detached to fire at will at the enemy. Soldiers deployed as tirailleurs: in lines spaced without depth.

        2. Soldiers of certain infantry troops from outside metropolitan (French) territory, and formed from indigenous peoples. (Algerian, Senegalese tirailleurs)

        I'm not sure of all the details of French military nomenclature, but (before, after and) in both World Wars, they deployed many formations of troops raised from their colonial dependencies (mainly in North and West Africa): their unit designations often differed from those of the main French Army.

        •  Tirailleurs... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jay C

          I didn't really try to translate that term, as in the French army of that time it was (and still is) perceived as colonial infantry troops (#2 definition) !
          A good movie in the WWII version would be "Days of Glory" in 2006 ("Indigènes" in french)!

          Still in WW1, most of them were used as cannon fodder even though they often were very good soldiers, even when decimated by the cold winters and the very scarce equipment they had (as the others anyhow)!

          Relating to other posts, I'm old enough to have had a grandfather at WW1's "Chemin des Dames", and a father in a "Infantrie coloniale de marine" corps "caught arms in hand" with the remnants of his unit in the black forest (Germany) in 1939...

          Sure for the next generation (my children) WW1 fades a bit, though it's still learned in class and there are many remembrance ceremonies. This year (2012) was the first time when the last "poilu" died of old age and none were left for the Parisian 14th of July...

          Times flow, and after three major wars with Germany the next generation works on Europe and behind the economics (good or bad), it's those wars and those useless deaths that bonds our countries...

          "What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night" A.E. Housman

          by Margouillat on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 04:39:32 PM PST

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