The Obama administration has renamed enemy combatants something else. I sense something of the many levels of meaning in this, and was ready to pontificate on it when I noticed a couple of other things having to do with words: There was a U.S.-Chinese naval standoff; and the US was interested in retooling US-Pakistani relationship; and then I noticed that Russia weighs bases in Cuba and Venezuela, but then a Russian general clarified and said while it is possible to have a base in Cuba, not so in Venezuela because their constitution prohibited establishment of military bases of foreign states on Venezuelan territory and described the Russian possible use of the facility there as "we land, we complete the flight, we take off." Good, I thought, that clarifies things.
English likes to take words it likes from any language and use it, sometimes changing their meanings. We get many words from Spanish, of course. Never mind place names like Los Angeles and California, Montana and Colorado. Other personal favorites are hombre and tobacco and cigar. Another is embargo. Lasso. Renegade. Cockroach. Vamoose. Buckaroo. Desperado. Hemingway introduced the Spanish phrase, hora de la verdad as "moment of truth" in Death in the Afternoon when he was bemoaning how base and decadent bullfighting had become. Not like the old days.
I was reading a simple volume called Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns: Connected Lives and Legends when I came across this surprising explanation, put forward as a persistent legend, of the origin of the word "gringo". I like it, so I pass it along, trying to keep a good myth alive. In the Mexican-American War soldiers (many Irish and Scot) liked to sing Robert Burns’ Green grow the rashes, O (written) and sung and spoken. And as the Mexican soldiers heard this, they made "green grow" into "gringo."