Despite its written form, the language of Owen’s poem strongly resembles spontaneous speech, noting the omission of letters such as “’ow” instead of “how”, to imitate the regional pronunciation of these words. By providing his characters with such unmistakably Northern accents, Owen serves to emphasise that very ordinary men are being forced to endure the horrors of the First World War. Conversely, Janes’ transcript of her conversation with Gordon Brown is so prepared that it could almost have been written, as both speakers showcase their knowledge of the events of the war in Afghanistan that they are discussing.
To emphasise further the idiomatic nature of the poem, Owen uses a variety of euphemistic terms such as “Fritz”, which was an Allies-based nickname for the Germans at that time, and one that would have been familiar to those at home in Britain; such language would have resonated with the letters they had received from loved ones who were fighting abroad in the war. Here Owen uses emotionally charged vocabulary in order to achieve his purpose of persuading his audience to consider as deeply as possible the themes he is presenting. Janes, however, tends to be very factual and specific in her argument, providing facts such as “nobody has replaced the Chinooks”, and manipulating the conversation by using discourse markers such as “Right” – utterances which completely dismiss Brown’s emotional speech so as to expose his true lack of knowledge.
Janes’ use of discourse markers also signifies her desire to gain authority in the conversation, which she later maintains by addressing the prime minister very formally as “Mr Brown” when he attempts to interrupt her, which not only surprises him and allows her to continue speaking but also reinforces the formality between the two that Brown attempted to dissolve earlier in the conversation. To conclude his initial speech, Brown had stressed the word “feel” so as to appear to be sincere, but Janes refused to allow the conversation to sway from the political debate she intended and, in response, stressed “I” when rhetorically asking permission to express her own opinions.
The irony of Owen’s poem us that the one blasé soldier, who introduced himself with a very dismissive “Ah well”, is the one who, by the end, is consumed by madness and suffers, according to the narrator, the worst of them all. The first to speak aside from the narrator is an unnamed soldier who is obviously quite panicked about the battle about to begin, uttering a very ominous “we’re for it”, which insinuates that he’s positive they will all suffer greatly if they are not murdered first.