access

bishbosh

Member
British English
Dear all,

I am searching for some help finding the exact word that I want in translation from Dutch to English. Whilst I appreciate that this forum is not really for translation, I chose to post here as I am in no doubt as to what the word means, I am just struggling to find a workable English equivalent.

In Dutch the word is access, and it is used to describe a point in a military line, particularly with reference to Dutch waterlines, which were a defensive concept whereby large areas of the Netherlands were flooded with a defended line immediately behind the flooded land. Wikipedia possibly explains better than I do.

The sense is that where a piece of infrastructure like a road, railway, canal or river intersects with the flooded land, it creates a break in the line that must be defended, particularly as in the low-lying Netherlands any road or railway is typically built on a dike to prevent it flooding and is therefore not flooded when the rest of the land is. These 'accessen' are critical in the infrastructure of the line, as they generally featured clusters of forts to prevent an attack by road, rail or river.

I cannot come up with a good equivalent in English, although I feel that there must be one. Although certain elements of the waterline are typically only Dutch, I feel that the concept of a weak point in a defensive line where infrastructure bisects it must be possible to sum up elegantly in English, but the best I have is 'access points' which requires a great deal of elaboration and doesn't really make sense in English in any case.

If anyone can help, it is much appreciated.

Best,

BB
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As I understand it, there is a levee (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levee) between the sea and the land. There is also a further levee inland. 1. In case of invasion by land over the first levee, the land could then be flooded as far as the second levee. 2. In the levee that divides the sea from the land there are floodgates, when these are opened, the sea rushes in and floods the land as far as the second levee.

    So the word you want is "floodgate(s)"
     

    bishbosh

    Member
    British English
    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your reply, but it's not the floodgates that I'm struggling with, I tend to refer to those by their specific names (you wouldn't believe how many different words for sluice there are in Dutch).

    It's the 'access points' where railways or roads cross the fortified line (which in many places is in the form of a levee) that I can't get come up with a satisfactory name for.

    I hope that makes sense, part of the problem is that it is so difficult to express in English at all.

    BB
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    OK
    It's the 'access points' where railways or roads cross the fortified line (which in many places is in the form of a levee) that I can't get come up with a satisfactory name for.
    1. Can you find a picture of one of these?
    2. Are you looking for a military term or an engineering term?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Evidently there is a specific vocabulary for such situations in Dutch. That makes it unlikely there is a one-word equivalent for the Dutch word 'access' in this sense.

    That means one either has to use the Dutch word untranslated, but placed in quotation marks with an added explanation, or else to put together a short phrase.

    If I have understood your question, it will be true to say simply that a point of the kind you describe is a 'weak point'. If that is not adequate, could you compose a sentence to let us see how the target phrase would be used?
     

    bishbosh

    Member
    British English
    Hi all,

    I toyed with the idea of weak point, but I would most like something that references the fact that these are places where the line is usually crossed, as the word 'accessen' does in Dutch, literally meaning 'points where the one side of the line is normally accessed from the other'. I realise that it is entirely possible that this doesn't exist in English, but I just thought I would have a punt to see if anyone could come up with something more elegant than 'access points'.

    As far as a picture goes, there isn't much to see these days, but this gives you some idea of how the line crosses the water barrier, http://www.hollandsewaterlinie.nl/pages/accessen.aspx

    I think a military term might be best, but to be honest if there is either kind of term that adequately summarises what I am trying to give then I would be happy.

    Here is an extract from the text which might give some better context:

    Just like the old version, the New Dutch Waterline allowed for extensive but managed flooding, with forts and batteries placed to protect the infrastructure elements where water flooded into the basins, (sluices and locks) and particularly where rail or roads made it easy to cross the line, known as ‘access points’.

    Thanks to everyone for their contribution once again.

    BB
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I considered 'corridor' but 'corridors' tend to be much longer than they are wide. I also considered 'cut' and 'cutting'
    Cut (n.) II.16. a. A passage, course, or way straight across; esp. as opposed to going round a corner or by a circuitous route. Also concr., and fig.

    Cutting: 8. An open, trench-like excavation through a piece of ground that rises above the level of a canal, railway, or road which has to be taken across it.

    1838 F. W. Simms Public Wks. Great Brit. 62 The railway is carried through this cutting.
    1878 T. H. Huxley Physiogr. (ed. 2) 23 Some good geological sections may be seen in railway cuttings.
    This might work, it is usually associated with canals and railway lines: it is a cut through higher ground (i.e. a small, narrow, artificial valley is created) so that points on either side of the cut are at the same level.

    Here is a picture of a railway cut (also cutting) http://www.yourlocalweb.co.uk/images/pictures/14/08/railway-cutting-headingley-138579.jpg
    and a canal cut: http://cruisesinpanama.com/files/2011/09/Kroonland-Panama-Canal-1915-culebra-cut.jpg
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    and particularly where rail or roads made it easy to cross the line, known as ‘access points’.
    That is clearly one solution. An alternative might be:
    'and particularly the crossing points where a dike carried a road or railway across the water'.

    Following a first use of 'crossing points' like that, I think plain 'crossings' might do thereafter.
     
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    bishbosh

    Member
    British English
    Dear all,

    Thanks for some really great responses, there is some real food for thought there. I think that 'crossing points' in particular might turn out to be a workable solution.

    Best,

    BB
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    That seems to be a general glossary, though, not a military one. Other questions that come to mind are its date and how authoritative it is.

    Besides, since the two English words suggested for the French accès are 'approach, access', then, in view of the French liking for abstract terms, it does not, with respect, seem obvious that this takes one any further forward than your original starting-point.
     
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