Euphemism of the day: concertina wire

Appeler ces barbelés meurtriers aux lames aiguisées comme des lames de rasoir fil accordéon est un euphémisme quelque peu extrême.

From the Washington Post (reg. req’d I think; you can also try to access the article via bugmenot).

National Guard crews are setting up double rows of coiled razor wire in front of the tracks and will continue to do so until the fencing blocks the ravaged coast for 30 miles.

The razor wire will block the beach fronts in Long Beach, Pass Christian, Gulfport and Biloxi, which are devastated not only south of the tracks, but also well north of them.

In a region that already looks and feels like a war zone, the coiled razor wire is not proving popular. […]

“We don’t know what washed up from the sea, from the Gulf,” [Col. B. Joe] Spraggins said at a news briefing Saturday. The area may hold bodies of hurricane victims.

“We need to be able to find them without having their remains displayed to the public,” he said. He also said that the razor wire — he prefers to call it by its prettier name, concertina wire — protects what is left of residents’ belongings by thwarting potential looters.

There’s also a photo next to the article. And here’s another one, which is not behind a registration wall.

All I can say is that you need a hell of a pair of gloves to play that concertina.

[Incidentally, the German word for razor wire is NATO-Draht (”NATO wire”). I haven’t been able to find a French term other than the generic fil barbelé, often found as the plural barbelés.]

Found it on Glaukôpidos, via caelestis at sauvage noble, so here it is, as promised: the original Greek version of the “new” Sappho poem found on an University of Cologne papyrus.

῎Υμμες πεδὰ Μοίσαν ἰ]ο̣κ[ό]λ̣πων κάλα δῶρα, παῖδες,
σπουδάσδετε καὶ τὰ]ν̣ φιλἀοιδον λιγύραν χελύνναν·

ἔμοι δ᾽ἄπαλον πρίν] π̣οτ᾽ [ἔ]ο̣ντα χρόα γῆρας ἤδη
ἐπέλλαβε, λεῦκαι δ’ ἐγ]ένοντο τρίχες ἐκ μελαίναν·

βάρυς δέ μ’ ὀ [θ]ῦμο̣ς̣ πεπόηται, γόνα δ’ [ο]ὐ φέροισι,
τὰ δή ποτα λαίψηρ’ ἔον ὄρχησθ’ ἴσα νεβρίοισι.

τὰ <μὲν> στεναχίσδω θαμέως· ἀλλὰ τί κεν ποείην;
ἀγήραον ἄνθρωπον ἔοντ᾽ οὐ δύνατον γένεσθαι

καὶ γἀρ π̣[ο]τ̣α̣ Τίθωνον ἔφαντο βροδόπαχυν Αὔων
ἔρωι φ̣ . . α̣θ̣ε̣ισαν βάμεν’ εἰς ἔσχατα γᾶς φέροισα[ν,

ἔοντα̣ [κ]ά̣λ̣ο̣ν καὶ νέον, ἀλλ’ αὖτον ὔμως ἔμαρψε
χρόνωι π̣ό̣λ̣ι̣ο̣ν̣ γῆρας, ἔχ[ο] ν̣τ’ ἀθανάταν ἄκοιτιν.

(That’s Unicode Greek letters, so install a suitable font if you need one.)

Time to bring out the big dictionary (well, my good old school Gemoll) and to brush up on metres.

Update 05/07/01:

  1. After some discussions in Language Hat’s welcoming lounge, two transcription errors have been corrected. William wryly remarks on textual corruption going on before his eyes.

  2. Caelestis has more yet, including a transliteration in our Latin alphabet. Also, he’s the classics scholar, so go there for any of your classics needs.

  3. Some dabate has arisen about the meaning of ἰόκολπος, an adjective that modifies “of the Muses”. West’s translation in TLS (copied here) has “fragrant-blossomed”. But the Reuters wire based on it chose “fragrant-bosomed” — which seems more correct (”the bosom [scented with] violets”). Others prefer a different supposition about the origin and translate “purple-girdled”.

  4. And for German speakers: deutsche Übersetzung des Sappho-Gedichts, with comments by one of the discoverers, Michael Gronewald (Uni Köln).