The Greeks Have a Saying For it

By Jonathan Carr and Paul Anastasi
Athens News

Blessing one's beard

(Ευλογαω τα γενεια μου) (Evlogao ta yeneia mou)

Meaning: self-praise

This sounds like a rural sideswipe at the priests, many of whom were prone to allying themselves with the rich and powerful and feathering their own nests. Any "blessings" emanating from them, therefore, were likely to be of little effect, going no farther than the priest's beard.

Cutting one's cough

(Κσβω το βηχα) (Kovo ton viha)

Meaning: laying down the law; cutting one
down to size

This is a carryover from school life, where until the 1960s or so, discipline was strict. Indolent pupils would sometimes try to mask their lack of knowledge of a particular subject by pretending to cough uncontrollably while reciting the lesson. The teacher would then threaten to "cut the cough" of the wayward student.

Cutting one's brain

(Μον χσβει το μναλσ) (Mou kovei to myalo)

Meaning: becoming aware of something; seeing the

The use of the verb to cut to denote enlightenment is associated with the sense of sharpness, as in a piercing beam of light entering the head. The Ancient Greek word for keenness of mind, oxyderkeia, contains the word for sharp. The phrase is most often employed in the negative sense, as in it doesn't cut him (δεν τον χσβει) (den tou kovei), meaning that the said head is too thick for anything to penetrate it.

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(Posting Date 9 July 2007)

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