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Guns and Ammo

1. History

2. Artillery

3. Firearms

4. Firearms Glossary

5. References


Guns and Ammunition

This paper was presented by Denzel Dyer for translators at the 36th Annual Conference of the American Translators Association, 1996.

Copyright: American Translators Association. All rights reserved. This document may not be reproduced without the written permission of the American Translators Association. Presented here by permission, and slightly modified for this web page.


This paper is divided into 5 sections. Choose the section you wish to view from the menu on the left.

Abstract: Terminology of firearms and ammunition is often unclear, imprecise and ambiguous. This paper attempts to present some basic terminology and technology.

Anyone accustomed to working in scientific and technical fields appreciates clarity of terminology, precise meanings, and lack of ambiguity. Of course, not all technical fields meet those standards; but the field of firearms and ammunition does not begin to approach any of them. A single term may have two or more meanings, some of them contradictory. Experts disagree over meanings of terms. Writers (especially fiction writers, though the distinction is often uncertain) often use terms extremely casually to make their writing sound authentic. And people in the mass media are particularly far from expert, so if your knowledge of firearms comes from newspapers or television, you are in deep trouble.

This presentation will not produce experts. Its intent is to introduce some of the basic terminology and sources, and perhaps to help you recognize some of the wilder errors so that you will not introduce any absurdities beyond those in the original text. Experts will consider this terribly oversimplified, and will argue about several points. Some terms are used without being defined at all. All dates are approximate. Finally, so many different designs have been tried that words like 'always' and 'never' are rarely entirely true.

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