The varied faces of the lanyard

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It is curious how the use of something can change over time. Like the tailbone or the appendix, many things have survived from the past that have lost all reasons to survive. Yet they do survive, clueless dinosaurs from a previous age that have adapted themselves to newer uses, becoming a croc or a lizard in the process. The lanyard, that curious piece of string that pops up in all places and comes attached with all sorts of things, is one such remnant of a previous age. It is uncertain as to when the first lanyard came up. And for what purpose. Being basically a piece of string it could have found some useful business in a previous day. Nor can it be said with any conviction that its primary and first use were defined in the army camps of pre-modern Europe. Chances are variants of lanyard were used in other lands for other purposes for hanging sword, or a jacket, or tugging at the beard of a hard taskmaster. 然而, firm claims as the inventor of this ubiquitous piece of string comes from the army and the navy only. The lanyard was originally a long piece of cord around one meter in length that was used to secure the jack-knife or the sword. The tradition developed of wearing the lanyard on the left shoulder attached to a jack-knife which was tucked into the left breast-pocket. The color and the position (left shoulder or right) have changed from this to that but the lanyard has maintained its ornamental position on the breasts of military men for the last many centuries from tin-pot dictators in the interiors of Africa to stocky four-star Generals in US Army, from pretentious royal princes in funny dresses to fake presidents in Amazon jungles. Other sources maintain that the lanyard was first used to tie the fodder for the horses pulling the cannons. 後來, its use deviated to pulling the fire-trigger on the artillery, a use that continues to this day in some older systems. With its expertise with ropes and knots, the navy says the lanyard was its invention. 奇怪的是, in the navy too it ended up at the same place a sort of collar for the shoulder for the men in uniform. Various uses of the lanyard were devised within the camps. Some used it to tie their sabers to their wrists allowing them to fire the pistol with the same hand the word dragoon, French in origin, derives from this usage. Later on when pistols became standard issue, the pistol was attached to the uniform with the lanyard. Everywhere we find that the lanyard stayed close to the main object of the profession of the men in uniform. 時代已經變了. The adage that sounded hollow a few years back that the pen is mightier than the sword has fought back in favor of the wielder of intellectual resources. 今天, the lanyard is seen more in the company of civilians than in the company of the men in uniform. The lanyard comes attached to the pen, the torch, the knife, the badge, the whistle and what not. As consumer gadgets get more miniaturized, everything from cell phones to iPods and digicams gain the hallowed company of the lanyard. It is a sign of the changing times that the most empowering devices (phones and cameras) are now associated with something that was similarly the companion of symbols of empowerment yesterday (swords and guns). Not to be left behind, the metaphor of empowerment is sought by charitable causes. MakePovertyHistory, the international campaign to end extreme poverty around the world, has chosen the humble lanyard as a symbol of sympathy with the just cause of liberation from oppression. As the official website itself adds: By supporting Make Poverty History we can prove our role as liberators but not in a way that is painful and boring but exciting and new!. The lanyard can hold the keys to liberation and it also doubles as a mobile phone holder!. There you have it empowerment from the humblest of sources. The varied faces of the lanyard


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