Johnston St Carlton in Melbourne is not where Spaniards and Latin Americans live (it’s hipsterville), but it is where there is a critical mass of Spanish and Latin American restaurants is—along with salsa dancing classes, and a yearly street festival.
Day: May 3, 2016
What are some weird expressions?
Ahah. Let’s not bugger flies, you say? Follow me, Quorans, into the scatological riches of Greek adages, and some rather disturbing insights into traditional Greek notions of sex, power, and bodily functions.
You’ve been warned.
- Έκανε η μύγα κώλο, κι έχεσε τον κόσμο όλο. “The fly has produced an arse, and has shat on the entire world.” Referring to impudence above one’s station.
- Έκλασε η νύφη, σκόλασε ο γάμος. “The bride’s farted: the wedding’s over.” Cf. Horace, if you will: The Mountain in Labour
- Δώσε θάρρος στο χωριάτη, να σου ανέβει στο κρεβάτι. “Give the peasant encouragement, and he’ll climb into bed with you.” Meaning don’t encourage those who will take advantage of you. Especially if they are peasants.
- Έκανε το σκατό παξιμάδι. “He’s turned his shit into rusks.” Bread was conserved as rusks, for those who could not afford fresh bread. The adage suggests a more advanced state of penury.
- Όπου αγαπάς νυχόκοψε, κι όπου μισάς κατούρα. “Cut your nails where you love, piss where you hate.” As far as I know, it doesn’t mean any more than what it says: using someone’s toilet is a bad omen, cutting your nails there is (somehow) a good omen.
- Κατούρα και λίγο. “Do take a break to piss.” A sarcastic riposte to someone boasting about his power and manliness. The silent presupposition is that since the referent is being so manly and macho, it is reasonable to suggest that he take a break, and use his penis for a secondary purpose.
- As a corollary, a non-sarcastic expression of a man’s control over a situation is: γαμάει και δέρνει. “He fucks and beats up.” Apparently, that’s what masters did to apprentices as an expression of power. And as US mass media will tell you, the practice remains endemic in prisons.
- Δε μας χέζεις ρε Νταλάρα. “Why don’t you shit on us, Dalaras”.
That last one needs some exegesis.
- George Dalaras is a very very earnest, serious, sincere singer. Who sings very very weighty serious songs.
- To “shit on someone” in Greek is to express contempt for someone.
- If you “shit on someone”, they will be beneath your notice, and you will cease associating with them.
- If you ask someone to “shit on you”, you’re asking them to consider you beneath their notice—which will lead to them ceasing associating with you.
- So the roundabout meaning of the adage is: “stop bugging me”. It’d be kind of saying to I dunno, Rush Limbaugh or Bob Dylan or someone like that: “Dude? Seriously. I’m not. Worth. Your time.”
The worst, I leave for last.
- Θα μου κλάσεις τ’ αρχίδια. “You will fart on my balls.” The meaning of this is: your threats to me are meaningless, as I am in a position of complete dominance over you.
A particular positioning of bodies is presupposed by this adage, as an expression of traditional male dominance (stereotypically associated with Greeks by non-Greeks, and with Ottomans by Greeks themselves). In such a positioning of bodies, the phrase content would be a plausible if impotent expression of repudiation of such dominance.
If you have no idea what I am alluding to, you are a better human being than I.
How do you say the word “owl” in Greek?
As Sokratis Di said, κουκουβάγια [kukuvaʝa] in Modern Greek. The proposed etymology is that it’s onomatopoeic, with kukuvau! the Modern Greek for “hoot! hoot!”, and Aristophanes’ ancient equivalent being kikkabaû! (“cry in imitation of the screech-owl’s note”).
The Ancient Greek is γλαύξ, /glaúks/. The ancients guessed that it was derived from glaukos, “blue”, because of the owl’s sparkling eyes (?!) Chantraine’s Etymological Dictionary just mutters “no definite etymology”.