A man takes a drink, the drink takes ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by strollinginrain, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. strollinginrain Member

    China Chinese
    A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man.

    In the above proverb, what's the meaning of "take"?
    Thank you!
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Here is my suggestion: How about "takes" meaning "requires":

    A man takes a drink, a drink requires [another] drink, the drink takes the man.

    That is: Once a man takes one drink, he is led to take another, and then drinking takes over the man's life. ​

    I am not certain about this. Others may have better suggestions.
  3. strollinginrain Member

    China Chinese
    Thank you! But I think if take here means to require, the sentence still doesn't make sense, for the subject is the drink.
  4. mgwls Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Spanish (Argentina)
    Here the work "takes" has three different meanings. The first "takes" in "A man takes a drink" stands for to drink. The second, in "the drink takes a drink", means to bring and the last one means to appropriate.
  5. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Frankly, I've never heard this "proverb" before.
  6. alacant

    alacant Senior Member

    Alicante, Spain
    England, english
    I agree with this explanation, and the saying is in normal usage in the UK and USA.
  7. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    Sorry, Alacant, I've never heard it either.

    (What font are you using, Strolling? The only part of your original question that I can read is this:
    A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man.
    All the rest is just a lot of unreadable characters ...)
  8. alacant

    alacant Senior Member

    Alicante, Spain
    England, english
  9. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    English English
    Yes, it does have a slightly blarneyish feel to it, to be sure;)
  10. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I've never heard the proverb either.

    But I think the meaning is clear. "Drink" is the subject of the second "takes" because the suggestion is that after the first drink it's the alcohol, not the man, that does the thinking and takes the actions.
  11. jbtjbtjbt New Member

    Speaking as a member of AA - to which this use of "take" is specific - I can clarify: in the first two instances, "take" means "has", ie, a man has a drink, then the drink has a drink. In the third use, "take" means "kill" ie the drink kills the man.

    The proverb describes the passage of alcoholism. In the first line, the proverb describes the very simple act by which alcoholism begins for some people - they have a drink.

    Then, as expressed in the second line, the fact that an addictive substance has been ingested gives that substance something to work with in the future; it makes the victim drink more, uncontrollably, but only because they have had that first drink. This is expressed in terms of the drink having a drink for itself ie "drink takes drink"

    Finally, as expressed in the third line, the drink kills, or "takes", the victim.

    Notable is the palindromic structure of the proverb when written in its most simple (and potentially gnomic) form; and especially impressive is that this palindrome works on the diagonal axis. With reference to the proverb written out below, if you draw a line from the "man" on the top left (the first word of the proverb), to the "man" on the bottom right (the last word of the proverb), the content of each side is reflected to the other.

    man takes drink
    drink takes drink
    drink takes man

    Strictly speaking, it is not a perfect palindrome visually, but it is certainly beautiful; talk about elegant concision - only three words used ("man" used twice, "drink" used four times, "take" used three times) nailing down a complicated subject like addiction.

    <<Reference note: AA=Alcoholics Anonymous>>
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2012
  12. Andy A New Member

    English ELORO C
    This quote, as someone already said is a perfect description of alcoholism. Brendan Behan had an equally precise and concise take on it: "One drink is too many and a thousand not enough" The Japanese one could be phrased as "First the man drinks a drink, then the drink drinks a drink, then the drink drinks the man." But.. It's clumsier.

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