Language and ammunition terms- French, Latin etc origins


#1

Why so much French in ammunition? Sabot ,meplat , cannelure , ogive and,of course, even the word CARTRIDGE comes from the French.

The answer: NAPOLEON

NAPOLEON made France the most heavily armed country in the world. Everybody was armed and there were gunmakers and smiths by the thousands and firearms by the tens of thousands. Every man was a soldier.

France was awash with firearms then and after.

These smiths experimented with all aspects of the gun arts and made some of the most beautiful and practical of weapons of the time.

The history of nascent fixed ammunition branches out of France .


#2

That is really interesting history. It seems allot of ammunition and its terminology come from France. I wonder how soon after the discovery of gun powder the French acquired it.


#3
  • @ CSAEOD: Please don’t forget the “BAYONET” [everyone should know what this is] which has the origin in “BAYONNE”, a town in southwest France. Liviu 09/29/08

#4

I thought Bayonne was in New Joisey?

Speaking of Napoleon, as an ex-artilleryman we had a saying that was supposedly attributed to him:

“God fights on the side with the best Artillery”.

Regardless of whether or not it came from him, it’s a great one-liner.

Ray


#5
  • @ Ray Maketa: The bayonet was “born” in France and the town of Bayonne is credited. If there is also a town named Bayonne in NJ, it has nothing to do with the bayonet. Liviu 09/29/08

#6

A little comedy now and then.

The most famous cannon of our unCivil war was called what ? That’s right ; a NAPOLEON.

The advances in mobile artillery developed under Napoleon almost made up for bad judgment.

RUSSIA IS BIG AND COLD. SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN NEWS TO NAPOLEON OR HITLER.

IT IS BIGGER THAN YOU THINK AND COLDER EVEN WITH THE SUN SHINING.

Some of the most beautiful days which I have ever seen were in the Soviet Union when it was cold enough to freeze off those brass balls on the Medici coat of arms.

Even the GUN , RIFLE and on and on came from the French.

No Frankophile am I BUT as Sam Adams said well ; “the truth is a hard thing” . We have to put up with it.


#7

Liviu

My comment was made with my tongue firmly planted in cheek. ;) ;)

And there is a real city of Bayonne NJ. I’ll bet SKSVLAD can tell us all about it’s scenic attractions.

Ray


#8

French artillery also played a big role in the United States War for Independance and greatly influenced what would come to be known as “American” artillery.

Another favorite artilleryman one-liner:

Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.

Ray


#9

Worked and lived in Bayonne, NJ for awhile…very scenic if lots of industry is what you like in the way of scenic…I know…not cartridge related so I’ll quit now !!!


#10

[quote=“Ray Meketa”]French artillery also played a big role in the United States War for Independance and greatly influenced what would come to be known as “American” artillery.

Another favorite artilleryman one-liner:

Artillery lends dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.

Ray[/quote]

Didn’t you say we didn’t agree on anything?

Looks like some common ground - your reputation is at jeopardy!

Sorry- here is the quote "As much as we disagree on most everything, it’s good to see you back Doc. But I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. ;) ;) " .

I forgot how much fun you guys can be !


#11

Ray - the unofficial forum jester - please make a point to outlive all of us. Otherwise, this space could become all business and no fun.


#12

For capitalists business is fun.


#13

This question came up elsewhere about DS ammo and should go here as well.

I know lots of folks are waiting for me to say something insulting about the French. Well, not going to happen here.

The French have spearheaded ordnance development for centuries.

DS technology goes back to the beginning of cannon weapons. A sabot or shoe in French was used as an obturator and when made in a cup form could be used to throw anything from a cannon and anything was including dead animals , rocks, chains , glass , the feces of sick people and metal projectiles of all sizes. When rifled technology came in the sabot was a problem and better gas checks had been developed as well. The French brought the DS technology back in a bigger way after seeing the effects of armor in WW1. The attached photo is of a 37mm factory display set from Brandt in France. It came from the German Hillersleben Proving grounds . We know that it is Brandt because Woodin Lab has an identical one in a smaller caliber with factory markings.

This looks like a rigid composite but it is not. The penetrator in the skeleton version is loose and would not have stayed with this sabot to the target. The full bore type looks more like a composite but the thin wire bands which hold it together on this sabot would not have made it intact out of the bore. The sabot would have fallen apart when it hit the air stream leaving the core to travel on to the target. The base of the sabot did hit something wood as there are remnants imbeded. It may have traveled all the way to the test target . No way to know exactly which design it is or what the target distance was.

The penetrator is also remarkable in as much as it is an APIspotter. The ogive is magnesium which would flash on impact and provide secondary incendiary effects.


#14

Very cool! That has got to be a very rare example.


#15

Nearly all the so-called “French terms” in English ordnance have their origin from Italian (Venetian Italian, to be exact, with overtones of Arabic.)

Calibre (French and English sp.) derives from the Latin-Italian “Qua Libra” (“What weight?” referring to the “poundage” of the ball fired by a Gun.
There is also a connection from the Arabic, which refers to “Ball size” (not better explained)

Cartridge-Cartouche: From the Italian “Cartuccia”, derived from “Carta da Fabbriano” one of the earliest Linen paper makers in Italy ( and of Europe) in the early 13th century…This heavy, Artist’s paper is still called “Cartridge paper” in the Anglo Paper trade and Art Supplies trade (it is excellent for Water-colours).

Artillery–Artillerie: from the Italian “Artiglieria” ( Artiglio means “Claw”…very early Cannon and Mortars had elaborate cast-on “Claw” handles and footings (like a Lion’s Paws) an early sign of the Arsenale of Venice…another Italian Term:
The “Arsenale” ( already a Military term by the 1500s, refering to store and manufacture of Guns, in an Order and Contract with P. Beretta (1528))
Comes from the earlier term “Darsena” (a Sandy beach where Ships were built, a corruption of the Latin Arena meaning Sand…The Venetian Arsenal
was the major builder of Galleys and Cannon in Italy from the 1300s to the 1600s (Ships from the 1000s).

Mitraille (Grape Shot): Italian “Mitraglia” ( From which Mitrailleur/Mitragliatrice/ Ametralladora===MG).

And the list could go on. The fact that the French were (a) Closer to England (b) had the “Napoleonic Effect” © Instigated the Metric System in 1791 for Unified Gun making under the “Comittee for Public Safety” and by the Empire(1802) had a unified and codified system of Gun-making which unified Gun design and Manufacture and Inspection in all the various “Manufactures Imperiales” spread across France, Italy and the Low Countries…all these features led to the English adoption of "French " Words in Military terminology, sometimes with Anglicized spelling.

Even the Word “Ordnance” comes from Italian “ordinanza”, meaning "under an ordinance or proclamation, a set of rules, a standard design, etc, refering to Artillery…so in English, Artillery was since Elizabethan times, called “The ordinance” or “ordnance” (Spelling was fluid in Shakespeare’s time)…with time “Ordnance” came to refer to Big guns, and “ordinance” came to refer to rules and regulations written on paper. The Chief Officer of the British (and other Commonwealth )Army’s Supplier of Guns and Ammunition is still called “the Master-general of Ordnance”

“Blank”…Fr.“Blanc”…Italian derivation is from “Bianco” meaning “White” as in a puff of gunsmoke, from a musket, used in “Salutes” (It. “Salve”, (from Latin meaning “greetings”).
"Tirare in Bianco " in Italian is to “shoot without effect” ( ie, using Blanks) both literally and figuratively.

The more one compares languages, the more one can see the flow of technical terminology through the Middle Ages from Italy both West and East; with a lot of the Italian terms coming from a crossing of both ancient Latin and Arabic terms. Another country which accepted French (and to a lesser extent, German) ordnance terminology was Russia, given the large influx of French engineers both in Peter the Great’s time, and even after Napoleon’s fatal campaigns in Russia.

The More things change, the more they remain the same (Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose).

regards,
Doc AV
AV Ballistics


#16

Incredible, Doc!
Talk about a thorough linguistics breakdown, WOW! Very interesting.

Jason


#17

Doc,
very interesting.
But I disagree with almost all the explanations.

calibre is coming directly from arab “qalib” which is a mold for metals
cartouche is coming from italian cartoccio which means small paper cone (like for icecream)
artillerie is coming from the latin aptĭculare then in old french atiller, then artillier
arsenal is coming from arab “darsina” and not from latin
mitraille is coming from old French"mitaille" (meaning small coins), which came from old French “mite” (Flander coins), coming from German (thru Netherland) “mit” which means “cut”

JP


#18

Does the word “armory” come from the italian words “armatura” and “armeria”?


#19

[quote=“jean-pierre”]Doc,
very interesting.
But I disagree with almost all the explanations.

calibre is coming directly from arab “qalib” which is a mold for metals
cartouche is coming from italian cartoccio which means small paper cone (like for icecream)
artillerie is coming from the latin aptĭculare then in old french atiller, then artillier
arsenal is coming from arab “darsina” and not from latin
mitraille is coming from old French"mitaille" (meaning small coins), which came from old French “mite” (Flander coins), coming from German (thru Netherland) “mit” which means “cut”

JP[/quote]

Did Latin roots come to French by way of Italian or by way of Roman occupation of France ?


#20

[quote=“CSAEOD”]

Did Latin roots come to French by way of Italian or by way of Roman occupation of France ?[/quote]

It is coming from Roman occupation of France.

JP