From: Jim West (jwest@Highland.Net)
Date: Tue Sep 15 1998 - 09:11:23 EDT
At 04:59 PM 9/15/98 +0000, you wrote:
>On the subject of finding modern equivilents to Greek phrases, I was
>reading through the JACT Classical Greek course and ran across the
>phrase es koraka, "to the crows," used in a phrase something like "go
>to the crows." The lexicon provided in the textbook gave the gloss
>"go to hell." L&S have "go to the dogs, go and be hanged.'"
>This is a case where the euphemistic language would escape the modern
>reader completly if it was translated "literally." Although I would
>think that it might shake a person up to be told to "go to the crows."
I disagree. If someone says "go to the crows" it clearly means "I hope you
rot and the birds peck your dead flesh". Some euphemisms are unclear
because of cultural differences. For instance, in the story of Isaiah 6 the
cherubim are described as having 6 wings, 2 covering their face, 2 to fly,
and 2 to cover their "feet". Now everyone who knows Hebrew knows that this
is a euphemism for "genitals". I.e., with 2 they covered their private parts.
Other euphemisms, like the one cited, are quite clear. Modern euphemisms
too have such widespread use that everyone knows what they mean. When, for
example, you attend a funeral, you generally dont hear the cleric say "Mr. X
is DEAD!" No, instead you hear "Mr X has passed on..." which literally
makes no sense, but everyone knows what it means.
In short- euphemisms are cultural devices- and anyone in the sphere of that
culture will know what they mean (at some point or another).
Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology
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