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Thread: Zήσε, Μάη μου, να φας τριφύλλι· ζήσε, μαύρε μου, να φας (το Μάη) τριφύλλι = I wouldn't hold my breath; that'll be the day...

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    Senior Member Theseus's Avatar
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    Zήσε, Μάη μου, να φας τριφύλλι· ζήσε, μαύρε μου, να φας (το Μάη) τριφύλλι = I wouldn't hold my breath; that'll be the day...

    Zήσε Μάη//μαϊμού να φας τριφύλλι

    What does this expression mean? It seems to occur quite commonly. Which is the correct spelling? Thanks!

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    Nothing to do with μαϊμού. The spelling is: Μάη μου.

    Actually, this is the mis-shortened form of the proverb. The original complete from was: Ζήσε μαύρε μου (or: Ζήσε μαύρε γάιδαρε) να φας το Μάη τριφύλλι, said of promises that we know that they won't materialize or of promises for the very distant future. There is an even longer version, that adds: και τον Αύγουστο σταφύλι.

    But since μαύρε μου is not so transparent in modern urban society, the proverb has been shortened and corrupted into: Ζήσε Μάη μου να φας τριφύλλι, which strictly speaking does not make sense -or even broadly speaking.

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    Senior Member SBE's Avatar
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    With an additional note that, having never seen a black donkey, I would have assumed it means a black horse (μαύρε μου).

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    Senior Member daeman's Avatar
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    Black jacks (male donkeys) for sale there, for viewing here.

    Θεωρητικά, θεωρία και πράξη είναι το ίδιο πράγμα. Στην πράξη, όμως, διαφέρουν.
    When this you see, remember me and bear me in your mind, let all the world say what they may, speak of me as you find.

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    Administrator nickel's Avatar
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    How would you prefer to translate this?

    One dictionary has That'll be a fine day, and I like it, but it's rare, and requires proper intonation.
    Another dictionary has And pigs have wings, but this expresses more general disbelief. Perhaps and pigs might fly may be more appropriate for future events, but again is not restricted to promises.
    A third dictionary has This is as may be (Μπορεί ναι, μπορεί και όχι), which is neither here nor there, but then includes the word 'may'.

    I would like Don't hold your breath / I wouldn't hold my breath considered as a candidate, and am open to suggestions.
    Μένω ΕυρώπηΣύγκρουση ιδεών, όχι βία και μισαλλοδοξία: δεν οδηγούν πουθενά. (Λ. Κύρκος)Αριστεία, ρε!
    ΕΝΑ ΝΗΜΑ ΤΗΝ ΗΜΕΡΑ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΙΑ ΚΑΝΕΙ ΠΕΡΑ. Staying hungry, staying foolish. Το διαδίκτυο βλάπτει όταν δεν σκέφτεσαι.

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    Senior Member daeman's Avatar
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    ...
    Yeah, right, that'll be the day!

    As for the proper intonation, Buddy nailed it (and the Quarrymen - briefly called the Blackjacks - demoed it).



    The song had its genesis in a trip to the movies by Holly, Allison and Sonny Curtis in June 1956. The John Wayne film The Searchers was playing. Wayne's frequently-used, world-weary catchphrase, "that'll be the day" inspired the young musicians. [...]


    Nevertheless, I also wouldn't hold my breath either.


    That'll be the May, come what may.

    Last edited by daeman; 30-12-2013 at 03:05 PM. Reason: video link updated
    Θεωρητικά, θεωρία και πράξη είναι το ίδιο πράγμα. Στην πράξη, όμως, διαφέρουν.
    When this you see, remember me and bear me in your mind, let all the world say what they may, speak of me as you find.

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    Μου αρέσει το don't hold your breath και τα συναφή. Πάντως, συχνά η φρ. χρησιμοποιείται όχι όταν δυσπιστούμε στις υποσχέσεις αλλά όταν η υπόσχεση, βοήθεια κτλ. θα φτάσει αργά σε σχέση με μια ανάγκη που επείγει. Π.χ. σε απόσπασμα από τη Ραχήλ του Ξενόπουλου, όπου η δράση εκτυλίσσεται στη Ζάκυνθο κατά το αντιεβραϊκό πογκρόμ, υπάρχει ο διάλογος:
    -- Μα ο αφέντης έλεγε ψες, πως τηλεγραφήσανε να ’ρθει στρατός από την Αθήνα...
    -- Ναι, ώσπου να ’ρθει, ζήσε Μάη μου!
    ή, στον Καπετάν Μιχάλη του Καζαντζάκη:
    -- Να περιμένουμε τα καράβια; Ζήσε, μαύρε μου, να φας τριφύλλι...

    (Παρέμπ, θα γράψω κι εγώ αύριο, τόκλεψα).

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    Administrator nickel's Avatar
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    Στην έκδοση των Faber, το καζαντζακικό «Να περιμένουμε τα καράβια; Ζήσε, μαύρε μου, να φας τριφύλλι...» γίνεται:

    Why wait for the ships? Or shall we perhaps look for four-leaved clover?

    Ο μεταφραστής ήθελε να βάλει κάπως το τριφύλλι και το πέτυχε!
    Μένω ΕυρώπηΣύγκρουση ιδεών, όχι βία και μισαλλοδοξία: δεν οδηγούν πουθενά. (Λ. Κύρκος)Αριστεία, ρε!
    ΕΝΑ ΝΗΜΑ ΤΗΝ ΗΜΕΡΑ ΤΗΝ ΑΝΙΑ ΚΑΝΕΙ ΠΕΡΑ. Staying hungry, staying foolish. Το διαδίκτυο βλάπτει όταν δεν σκέφτεσαι.

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    Καλό!

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    Senior Member Hellegennes's Avatar
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    True, but this translation implies that waiting for the ships is pointless because its dubious that they'll come.

    I'd dare say that "κλαύ' τα Χαράλαμπε" and "τρέχα γύρευε" are akin to "Ζήσε Μάη μου".

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