Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Mention the War

So, I was linking today to that Remapping Debate gadget about tax rates since World War II, and I started out by typing "since the war." I went back and made it "since WW II," because it occurs to me that "since the war" is not only dated (which it has been, more or less, since I was a kid), but that it's now so dated that I'm not sure many readers would know which default war I was referring to. I figured it's a slowish Friday semi-holiday, so I'd ask: if I had said "since the war," would y'all know what I meant? What about if I refer to "postwar" presidents presidents or elections? Do you know which war we're "post" of?

(If you feel moved to respond, it might help if you included your age, or at least some generational marker).


  1. I'm gonna reread this post and shake my head at what a nerd I am, but:

    If you say "postwar", I immediately think post-WWII.

    If you say "since the war", I probably think of Vietnam, but with a fair bit of uncertainty.

    FWIW (which might not be much)

    Age: 40

  2. Postwar is definitely WWII. I'm not sure what I'd do with "since the war", but I suspect it would depend on context if I could interpret it at all. I'm 27.

  3. In my experience, "the war" pretty much always means WW2, except for the few people who fought in Vietnam or fought against Vietnam. Every other mention of a war that I can think of, from service members, historians, or others, gets a qualifier.

    I always assume 'the war' means WW2, but I look for clues that the speaker might be too focused on a single war.

    Age 44.

  4. Postwar: WWII.
    "since the war": I'm probably an outlier, but I think the Civil War

  5. I'm in my 20s, and I would know what "after the war" and "postwar" meant. Mostly because I'm so used to reading about election and governing theories that deal with the "postwar" Presidents that exclude FDR, because including Mr. "President-for-Life" would screw up the data set.

    Besides, what other war could you be referring to? No wars begun in my lifetime (except the first Gulf War) have actually ended. Everyone knows when V-E and V-J days were, but I doubt we'll ever see a V-I or V-A day.

  6. "Post-war" definitely always implies "since World War II" for me. On the other hand, when you first said "since the war," I thought you meant "since the War in Iraq." I'm 20.

  7. Sorry, I thought of another one.

    I do know some people who mean the U.S. Civil War when they say 'the war,' or 'post-war,' but these people never seem to talk about anything that relates to anything after 1880, so we should be pretty safe with 'the war' == WW2.

    I'm still 44.

  8. Postwar = WWII

    For me, since the war means Vietnam, but that's for family reasons. I imagine most people in their 30s would associated it with Gulf War I.

    Early 30s

  9. "Since the war" = WWII. Everything since, illegitimate imperial floundering ...

  10. Because of the much larger conflicts that came before and after, I rarely think of the first Gulf War as anything other than a minor historical footnote. The only time I really hear about it is either when I'm reading about war-time jingoism, or how Papa Bush managed to lose the '92 election despite having a 110% approval rating the year before.

    Whenever folks today talk about "the war" in a modern context, I assume they mean Afghanistan/Iraq. But postwar, to me, always means everything after 1945.

  11. I'm 36, and for me:

    "postwar" = after WW II
    "interwar" = between WW I and WW II
    "antebellum" = before the Civil War
    These weren't initially obvious to me, but I learned them that way after seeing them in the same context hundreds of times.

    "since the war" sounds ambiguous and almost deliberately so. Cf. "He knows the truth about the war/ By reading the Daily Worker." It could be any of several wars, and that's the point.

  12. "Post-war," "since the war," etc to me all refer to WWII. I'm 23.

    I'd say I'm probably not normal for my generation in that I'd think that, but I'm probably not normal in my generation for reading a blog like this one.

  13. I would generally take "post-war" to be WWII. "Since the war" is more ambiguous. I was born in 1972

  14. "Postwar", definitely WWII. "Since the war", definitely Iraq Round 2. I'm 22.

  15. "Post-war" clearly refers to WWII, but I would find "since the war" ambiguous, and try to figure it out from context. For "interwar" and "antebellum"; what Erik said.

    I'm 27, and grew up in India, but read a lot of English and American books.

  16. At 51, I'm the oldest to comment so far. But I agree with some others that 'postwar' means WW2 and 'since the war' is ambiguous and needs context for clarification.

    'Antebellum' means before the Yankee Aggression.

  17. Postwar? Definitely WW2, usually WW1 carries a clarification.

    Since the war? Could be anything from Korea to Afghanistan. My first response would be Viet Nam

    Age: 66

  18. I'm (about) the same age as David and see the terms the way he does, assuming that by "Yankee Aggression" he means the the War to Save the Union from the Great Treasonous Slave-Power Conspiracy.

  19. I concur with much of those here.
    Postwar=after 1945
    Since the war = context dependent

    Age: 36

  20. I'm 27 so it might have thrown me for a second or two. But being a political science grad I've read enough different things that have used similar terminology that I more than likely would have assumed it meant WWII.

  21. "Since the war" and "post-war" are both unambiguously WWII to me.

    Re: the Civil War - I associate it only with the latin tags: ante and post-bellum.

    Age: 29

  22. "Since the war" - I have no idea, and might tend to think since the most recent war. In this case, the first thing I start wondering is whether Libya counts.

    "Post-war" - Clearly means WWII. I think this terminology has moved beyond the meaning of "war" as a word capable of applying to multiple conflicts and has a set definition as a phrase.

    I also agree with the above poster that "Antebellum" applies only to the Civil War.

    Age: 43

  23. British people still say "since the war," and I've watched enough British shows to where I would immediately think of WWII if I heard it, but it would still be ambiguous. I think clarity on "since the war" would depend on the context clues you provide. "Postwar" is certainly WWII.

    Age: 29

  24. 25 y/o

    Postwar: After WW 2

    "since the war": Could have meant any war to me depending on the context

  25. My default for both would be WWII, but with "since the war" I may think the Iraq war for a moment before settling on WWII.

    Age 24


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