Hashtag gets Gallic touch
The government is redefining “hashtag” with a Gallic touch. The country that has an academy devoted solely to the use of the French language has given its official seal of approval to a new word for the Twittersphere: mot-diese. Pronounced: “Mo-dee-YEZ,” it does not exactly trip off the tongue, but that is not the point. French law requires that government agencies use French terms and teachers are required to spread the word. New words are approved by the Academie Francaise and written into the lawbooks. The French word for “hashtag,” published in the official journal on Wednesday this week, follows the government’s somewhat successful redefinition of “e-mail” — courriel — and its less successful attempt to persuade people to avoid the word “weekend.”
Subway work uncovers gold
Excavation work during construction of a new subway network in the second-largest city has discovered an ancient wreath made of gold that was buried with a woman about 2,300 years ago. Archeologists say Friday’s find in Thessaloniki occurred on the site of an ancient cemetery in the west of the northern port city. A total 23,000 ancient and medieval artifacts have been found during archeological excavations connected with the construction since 2006. Archeologist Vassiliki Misailidou said the olive branch wreath made of gold was buried in a simple, box-shaped woman’s grave. It dates to the late fourth or early third century BC. Another eight golden wreaths were discovered in a single grave four years ago during subway work.
Diana image auctioned off
A previously unseen press photograph of a teenaged Princess Diana that a London tabloid deemed too hot to publish has sold for US$18,306, the auctioneers handling the sale said on Friday. The black-and-white image from the dawn of the 1980s shows Diana, possibly in a ski chalet, smiling at the camera as she lies comfortably in the lap of a like-aged, but unidentified young man reading a book. By the window stands a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky, but more intriguing are the words “not to be published” scrawled across the photo with the kind of grease pencil used by newspaper picture editors at the time. On the back, the photo is dated Feb. 26, 1981 — two days after Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Prince Charles and the commoner then known as Diana Spencer. The auctioneers did not identify the buyer.
Ballet star questioned
Police have questioned a star dancer as a witness over the vicious acid attack against the artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet Sergei Filin, officials said on Friday. Nikolai Tsiskaridze, one of the Bolshoi’s best known male principal dancers, was questioned on Wednesday, police said in a statement. “Employees of the Bolshoi Theatre and relatives and acquaintances of Filin have also been questioned,” the statement said. Tsiskaridze, a flamboyant figure with flowing black hair who regularly appears as a judge on TV talent shows, last year lashed out at the Bolshoi’s leadership for not giving him enough lead roles. He has not been named as a suspect and on Wednesday he vehemently denied any link to the attack. “What happened [to Filin] is horrific,” Tsiskaridze told the RIA Novosti news agency while complaining of “systematic persecution” by the Bolshoi.