Голову да плечи терпеливые под плеть

  • HotIcyDonut

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    "My head and burdened shoulders are stricken with a whip, with a whip"

    Highly philosophical song. The singer addresses "воля" (freedom/liberty/will) and mentions how hard for him to live without it. Tsoy songs are very hard to understand sometimes, literal translations may not work due to extensive use of speech figures and patterns.

    [Мою] голову да плечи терпеливые [подставили] под плеть

    Particle "да" can be used as conjunction "и"

    And the imaginary verb "put" (object in dative case + verb in plural lacking its subject-actor serve as passive voice, it's used as impersonal) is omitted.

    Терпеливые плечи = patient shoulders, i.e. patiently bearing smth (quite obvious it's about some burden, life troubles and hardships)
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don't understand the second line, what does it mean, more or less?
    Just if someone knew. :) Lyrics of Russian rock are often cryptic, to say the least, and the songs by Viktor Tsoy are probably the worst example.
    Semantically, it's "(to put) smb's head and patient shoulders under the whip"; the prepositional construction with the accusative case obviously has the directive meaning, implying some transitive verb of movement.
     

    Xavier61

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Here you can find seven variants of translation of the song.
    Thank you, I had seen other translation, but I didn't like much most of them :
    "Patient heads and shoulders - for the sure lash they lie
    They lie."
    I felt that a verb was missing, but didn't know which one. подставили looks like a good option, as suggested above.
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I felt that a verb was missing, but didn't know which one. подставили looks a good option, as suggested above.
    Just have in mind that the subject of the absent verb (even supposing it's finite in the first place!) is simply unknown. Technically that construction might have a lot of different meanings.
     

    Xavier61

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Just have in mind that the subject of the absent verb (even supposing it's finite in the first place!) is simply unknown. Technically that construction might have a lot of different meanings.
    Well, that is poetry, suggesting, connonting, not denoting.To me it is suggestive of some old punishment for non-conformist people, like the knut. I was just curious how to understand such undefinided construction, no verb, no subject... Now I think something like "(мне подставить) голову ...
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    I wouldn't say omission of the verb, particularly in this kind of poetic/lyrical context, is unusual in Russian, especially - as Awwal12 says in post 4 - when it's a "preposition (here под) + accusative" construction which (in the context) means motion. In fact in this specific context, the (missing) verb is almost irrelevant, it's the element of the utterance that carries the least force, and that's why it can safely be omitted.

    The translation of that line quoted in #5 ("for the sure lash they lie They lie"), doesn't bring out the "action" implied by под + accusative, as "lie" is a verb of position, a stative verb (not a dynamic one), so it might be argued that something of the drama of the original is lost.

    There's a quite readable (i.e. not too linguistically technical) paper here ('Swiss Cheese for Lazy Speakers: Verb Omissions in Russian and Czech', Jekaterina Mažara, Russian in Contrast, Oslo Studies in Language 2(1), 2010. 231– 242) where the writer discusses more examples where the verb has been omitted because the sense of "movement" is clear in the context from the "preposition + accusative" construction:
    Татьяна в лес; медведь за нею; Снег рыхлый по колено ей; (Evgeniy Onegin, 5, XIV)
    Потом другой костюм и быстро на сцену.
    А вот эти стаканы на верх.(..) Ну не сейчас, пусть сначалa высохнут.
    Širjaev (1973) found that in Russian, the most frequently omitted verbs come from three groups: verbs of goal-directed motion (e.g. я на базар, она в школу), verba dicendi (e.g. а он ей: «Подожди!») and verbs denoting violent application of force (e.g. Она ему/его сумкой по голове).(journals.uio.no)
     
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    GCRaistlin

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There's an unnecessary comma that seems to confuse everybody here. Remove it, and the phrase will become a bit clearer:
    Хорошо с тобой, да плохо без тебя (т. е. без воли вольной)
    Голову да плечи терпеливые (подставлять)
    Под плеть, под плеть.
     

    Vovan

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Among other things, this usage is characteristic of orders (including internalised ones; see my second example), or at least, plans of action:
    Мальчики - направо, девочки - налево. (= Мальчики идут направо, а девочки - налево.)
    И я сказал самому себе: ни шагу назад! (= Не делать ни шагу назад!)
    For this reason, passive constructions are comparable with this usage:
    Your head (is) to be put under the whip.

    I don't mean one should translate like that. Imperatives, gerunds, etc. would do ("Put you head...", "Putting your head...", "And you put your head...", "And they put your head...", etc.).
     
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