The Greeks Have a Saying For it

By Jonathan Carr and Paul Anastasi
Athens News

Finding them

(Τα βςισχουμε) (fa vriskoume)

Meaning: working things out; reaching a compromise

This very useful street phrase has warded off many a bitter quarrel. The "them" denotes the terms of agreement to be reached. For example, in a shop where bargaining takes place between buyer and seller, even though agreement is still far off, both will vow that "we'll find them" and remain on civil terms, confident that a solution will be found. It's a verbal signal that a fight would be in no one's interest. But, caveat emptor, the phrase can often be used to deceive, or lull, one side into compliance.

Getting it turned (Μου στςιβει) (Mou strivei)

Meaning: going mad; being driven insane

The origin of this image is obscure. It at first suggests someone's head becoming twisted, probably in motions suggesting madness.

The verb strivo (to turn or twist) is also often employed in its imperative form turn! (στςιβε!) (strive!) meaning get out of here, or about-face.

Good wreaths (Καλα σεφανα) (Kala stefana)

Meaning: have a happy wedding

This is one of those strictly ritual phrases that the Greeks use at times of life-change such as baptisms, weddings and funerals. This particular one is brought into play when taking leave of an engaged couple (or either of the partners) who have presumably set a wedding date, and perhaps need to be encouraged­or warned - to stay on course. In this it's similar to and to yours (qv), which, however, is reserved for those who are not yet engaged. In both cases the social pressure is subtle but highly effective.

Having it saved for someone (Του την εχω φυλαγμενη) (Τou tin eho fylagmeni)

Meaning: plotting revenge

Part of the sweetness of revenge is the feeling of saving it up for an appropriate time. The grammatical structure is of interest, as it avoids the active voice and employs a participle that lends a vague air of additional menace.

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(Posting Date 22 May 2007)

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