The Terminator

Last week we talked about how slaves helped robots come into existence in the English language. Now, there are terminators for these robots.

When a robot (an indentured servant by signing a contract) has ended, their contract was terminated by a terminator. Termination is the end. The Latin term terminus means boundary or limit, thus we get the words bus terminals, terms and conditions, fixed-term parliaments, and many other terms.

Also, terminating someone’s employment. But, there are two common forms of termination: with prejudice (they will never hire you again) and without prejudice (possible re-hire after some time). But, there is another form, termination with extreme prejudice (terminating someone like the Terminator does).

The CIA is notably secret about everything and no one can pinpoint when termination with extreme prejudice was invented. Only when it was revealed to the public by the fault of the U.S. Army Special Forces: the Green Berets.

In 1969, Vietnamese Thai Khac Chyen was working as a special agent or informer for the Green Berets (possibly the CIA, or both). He was also working for the Viet Cong. When the Green Berets discovered he was a possible double agent, they weren’t happy.

The Green Berets stated the CIA told them that Chuyen should be terminated with extreme prejudice. (The CIA probably meant his contract with them.) But, if you ask the CIA, they stated it was a Beret problem and left it as that.

In the end, it doesn’t matter who said what as Thai Khac Chuyen was shot and eight (or was it six?) Green Berets were arrested. While this was going on, the CIA was brought openly about the situation. Eventually, the Green Berets charges were dropped and they lived happily ever after.

Thanks to this situation, this is how terminate got removed from contract law and got a part in the movies. The first mention was in Apocalypse Now (1979) where the hero was to find Colonel Kurtz and terminate with extreme prejudice. In the public’s eye, terminate meant kill and in 1984, The Terminator was created.

Click the following to learn more about Thai Khac Chuyen:

Life magazine, November 14, 1969

Time magazine, September 5, 1969 (Note: you will need to sign-in to read the article)