gratis / in vain

Perseas

Senior Member
Greek
Hello

Greek and German use the same word to express "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" and "in vain"/"without success". The Greek word is "τζάμπα" [dzá(m)ba] (or "τσάμπα" [tsá(m)ba]) and the German "umsonst". (That said Greek and German use other words too to express those concepts).

For example:
Για σένα, δεν υπάρχει κόστος. Είναι τζάμπα! -- For you, there's no charge. It's free!
Τζάμπα πήγα στο σπίτι του· δεν ήταν εκεί. -- I went to his house in vain; he wasn't there.

Sie gab ihm das Eis umsonst. -- She gave him the ice cream for nothing.
Die ganze Mühe war leider umsonst. -- Unfortunately all that effort was in vain.

(Source)

What about other languages? Do they use the same or different words? Thanks a lot.
 
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  • Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In French, you can use the same expression "pour rien" (literally: for nothing) to express both gratis and in vain:
    in vain: Je suis allé chez lui pour rien; il n'était pas là. -- I went to his house in vain; he wasn't there.
    gratis: Elle lui a donné la glace pour rien. -- She gave him the ice cream for nothing.


    But as in Greek and German, there are also other more or less common words or expressions you can use:
    in vain: en vain, vainement, inutilement, sans succès
    gratis: gratis, gratuitement, à l’œil
    (colloquial)
     
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    Demiurg

    Senior Member
    German
    Greek and German use the same word to express "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" and "in vain"/"without success".
    In German, "kostenlos" is often used for "gratis" while "umsonst" kann mean both. There's even a pun on that:
    Professor to student: Mein Studium war kostenlos, Ihres ist umsonst.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    In Hungarian, the two phrases are different and there is no overlap in their use:

    hiába ("in vain", derived from the adjective "hiú" = vain)

    ingyen ("free of charge")

    The Greek word is "τζάμπα" [dzá(m)ba] (or "τσάμπα" [tsá(m)ba])
    Is that a loanword from Turkish?
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Spanish, the usual words for those meanings are different: gratis and en vano. Even copying the French way, the 'pour rien' would be different, as one would be por nada and the other para nada: Pagó un billete por nada vs Pagó un billete para nada.

    Yet there is a term that can mean both: de balde. Trabajó toda la jornada de balde 'He worked the whole day long for free'. Todos sus esfuerzos fueron de balde. 'All their efforts were in vain'. However, even with this, most speakers would prefer to say en balde for the second meaning.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Greek and German use the same word to express "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" and "in vain"/"without success".
    It's not the case in Russian.
    1. бесплатно (besplа́tno, "paylessly"), даром (dа́rom, "by gift");
    2. напрасно (naprа́sno, << *suddenly), безрезультатно (bezrezul'tа́tno, "resultlessly"), бесплодно (besplódno, "fruitlessly"), впустую (vpustúyu, "into-empty"), зря (zryа́, "looking" < looking aimlessly).
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's not the case in Russian.
    1. бесплатно (besplа́tno, "paylessly"), даром (dа́rom, "by gift");
    2. напрасно (naprа́sno, << *suddenly), безрезультатно (bezrezul'tа́tno, "resultlessly"), бесплодно (besplódno, "fruitlessly"), впустую (vpustúyu, "into-empty"), зря (zryа́, "looking" < looking aimlessly).
    P.S.: To think about it, there is still one expression which partly suits the both meanings.
    просто так (prósto ták, lit. "simply so"):
    1. for no reason;
    2. without any purpose;
    3. with no result achieved;
    4. for no gain; for free.
     
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    Ghabi

    AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod
    Cantonese
    In Cantonese, "white" baak6 白 can mean "in vain", for example, baak6zou6 白做 "white do"-->"to labour without any reward".

    Meanwhile, one can say things like: baak6sik6baak6zyu6 白食白住 "white eat white live"-->"to eat and live at someone's expense; to be a sponger". Now it doesn't exactly mean "gratis", but the meaning is somehow connected (i.e. "without payment").
     

    Yendred

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    In Cantonese, "white" baak6 白 can mean "in vain", for example, baak6zou6 白做 "white do"-->"to labour without any reward".
    This makes me think of the French colloquial expression "faire chou blanc" (literally "to do white cabbage"), which means to fail/to come up empty-handed, but it's not associated with gratis/free of charge.
    It seems the notion of white is associated with uselessness/failure in several languages.
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    In French, you can use the same expression "pour rien" (literally: for nothing) to express both gratis and in vain:
    in vain: Je suis allé chez lui pour rien; il n'était pas là. -- I went to his house in vain; he wasn't there.
    gratis: Elle lui a donné la glace pour rien. -- She gave him the ice cream for nothing.


    But as in Greek and German, there are also other more or less common words or expressions you can use:
    in vain: en vain, vainement, inutilement, sans succès
    gratis: gratis, gratuitement, à l’œil
    (colloquial)
    Dutch: "voor niets" can be used but sounds fairly informal...

    Normally:
    - in vain: (te)vergeefs,
    - gratis: kosteloos (cost-less)
     

    apmoy70

    Senior Member
    Greek
    ^^The Greek expression, is very colloquial too, I think Perseas would agree to that.

    Normally:
    In vain: «Μάταια» [ˈma.te.a] (adv.), or «ματαίως» [maˈte.ɔs] (adv., bookish), «επί ματαίῳ» [eˈpi maˈte.ɔ] (fossilized expression, learned), «εις μάτην» [iz ˈma.tin] (fossilized expression, learned) < Classical feminine noun «μάτη» mắtē --> folly, fault, emptiness, foolishness, adv. «μάτην» mắtēn --> foolishly, idly, empty (Beekes considers it a word of substrate origin, related to the adj. «ματταβός» măttăbós --> moron).
    Gratis: «Δωρεάν» [ðɔ.ɾeˈan] (adv.) < Classical fem. noun «δωρεά» dōrĕā́ (Attic «δωρειά» dōrei̯ā́ (fem.)) --> gift, present (PIE *deh₃-ro- gift old IE word present in many IE languages e.g. Skt. दान (dāna), Lat. dōnum, Proto-Slavic *darъ, Arm. տուրք (turkʿ), tribute etc).
     

    Armas

    Senior Member
    Finnish
    They are different in Finnish.
    For free: ilmaiseksi, maksutta
    In vain: turhaan, suotta
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    They are different also in Czech, however with the same root:

    for free: zadarmo, zdarma < preposition za (for) + darmo (acc.), z (from) + darma (gen.);
    in vain: nadarmo < preposition na (onto) + darmo (acc.);

    darmo n. ("by gift", substantivized) < dar m. = gift (cf. Greek dṓron, Protoslavic darŭ);
     
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    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    There are, of course, many other expressions, e.g. gratis: bezplatně = lit. paylessly (cf. Russian бесплатно /besplа́tno/), in vain: naprázdno, bezúspěšně (without-success-ly). They are somewhat official.
     
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    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    The Ottoman Turkish word caba [d͡ʒaba] is present almost in all Balkan languages: Macedonian џабе [d͡ʒabɛ], Serbian џаба, џабе [d͡ʒaba, d͡ʒabe], Bulgarian джаба [d͡ʒaba], Albanian xhaba [d͡ʒaba] etc. and it's used to express "gratis"/"free"/"without charge"/"very cheap" and "in vain"/"without success".

    But their native words are different.

    Macedonian:
    "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" = бесплатно (besplatno), гратис (gratis), слободно (slobodno) etc.​
    "in vain"/"without success" = залудно (zaludno), напразно (naprazno), безуспешно (bezuspešno) etc.​
    Serbian:
    "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" = бесплатно, гратис, слободно etc.​
    "in vain"/"without success" = узалуд, узалудно, безуспешно etc.​
    Bulgarian:
    "gratis"/"free"/"without charge" = даром, безплатно, гратис, свободно etc.​
    "in vain"/"without success" = напразно, безуспешно etc.​
     
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    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    The Ottoman Turkish word caba [d͡ʒaba] is present almost in all Balkan languages: Macedonian џабе [d͡ʒabɛ], Serbian џаба, џабе [d͡ʒaba, d͡ʒabe], Bulgarian джаба [d͡ʒaba], Albanian xhaba [d͡ʒaba] etc. and it's used to express "gratis"/"free"/"without charge"/"very cheap" and "in vain"/"without success".
    Interesting. I wonder if in Modern Turkish "caba" is still in use and with the double meaning.

    Again, I thank all of you for your input!
     
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    Dymn

    Senior Member
    In Valencian, both "in vain" and "free of charge" can be debades (only "in vain" in Catalonia). This word comes from the preposition de and Arabic bātil and is related to Spanish en balde.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    I forgot to mention another one Macedonian word: бадијала (badijala) [ba'dijaɫa]. This word is again of Turkish origin. In Modern Turkish they have the word bedava. I don't know if other Balkan languages have this Turkism too.

    Бадијала [ba'dijaɫa] is actually used as a synonym for џабе [d͡ʒabɛ], and it has several meanings like: for free, without charge, very cheap, dirt-cheap, in vain, without success...
     
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    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    Could it be that in fact three different meanings are involved but not all strictly related
    (1) "in vain" refers to "for nothing (with no result)" (vanitas, idle = empty) and that
    (2) the fact that "for free" implies " for nothing (no money)" there seems to be a link but that is homonymic rather than genuine, in the sense that "gratis" never means "in vain".
    (3) There is "gratuitously" meaning "for nothing (for no compensation)" again, but that would be a third meaning

    Could it be that "gratis" or your equivalent is never used for "umsonst/in vain"?
     

    ThomasK

    Senior Member
    Belgium, Dutch
    I forgot to mention another one Macedonian word: бадијала (badijala) [ba'dijaɫa]. This word is again of Turkish origin. In Modern Turkish they have the word bedava. I don't know if other Balkan languages have this Turkism too.

    Бадијала [ba'dijaɫa] is actually used as a synonym for џабе [d͡ʒabɛ], and it has several meanings like: for free, without money, very cheap, dirt-cheap, in vain, without success...
    1. Two questions, if I may:
      1. Could you comment on the etymology of the word? Does it have to do with "nothing" or something the like?
      2. If I understand well, you can use it in all the meanings mentioned above… Then my 2+1-meaning hypothesis is simply wrong. (As a matter of fact, when rereading the above messages I notice that in quite some Slavic languages they are the same…)Too bad then…
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    @ThomasK

    Here is what I found out.

    The (Ottoman) Turkish words bedava, badıhava, dialect. badiyava, are of Persian origin, bād-havā (bād -"wind", "air"; havā - "time") a metaphor cf. German "aus der Luft greifen".

    As a Balkan Turkism it is found in several Balkan languages (j = /j/):
    • Serbian: бадава, бадав, бадаве, бадијава, бадијаве, бадјава, бађава, бајдале etc. (badava, badav, badave, badijava, badijave, badjava, bađava, bajdale etc.)
    • Macedonian: бадијала (badijala), dialect. бадива (badiva)
    • Bulgarian: бадева (badeva), бадихава (badihava)
    • Albanian: badihava, badjava, bajdava
    In Serbian they give these meanings to that word: free, free of charge, gratis, very cheap, dirt-cheap, in vain, without success, idly...
    I cannot say if and how often is used this word in Serbian and other languages nowadays. I know that the other word (again Turkism) caba (see posts 20 and 1), џабе, џаба / džabe, džaba is often used in everyday speech in Serbian.


    Here is how is the situation in Macedonian.
    Both Turkisms џабе ['d͡ʒabɛ] (post 20) and бадијала [ba'dijaɫa] (post 24) are used as synonyms, and their meaning is:
    1. free, free of charge, gratis, (for nothing)
    2. very cheap, dirt-cheap, almost free of charge, (almost for nothing)
    3. in vain, without success, idly, (for nothing)
    With the meaning of (1) they were mainly used in the past. For example, there are some proverbs like: "Ракија и вино со пари го пиет, водата бадијала ет и не пиет." (in Ohrid dialect) lit. "He drinks brandy and wine and pays for them, the water is free of charge and he doesn't drink it."; or "Бадијала киселина, поблага e од мед." lit. "The vinegar received for free is sweeter than honey.". Nowadays џабе and бадијала are very rarely used with the meaning of (1). Instead, are used the native words: бесплатно, беспари, слободно, or гратис (gratis).

    With the meaning of (2) and (3) both words џабе and бадијала are still often used in everyday communication in Macedonian. Even though there are native words/phrasses too, these Turkisms are still in use.

    The Macedonian native words/phrases for (1), (2) and (3) are:
    1. бесплатно, беспари, слободно...
    2. многу евтино, речиси беспари...
    3. залудно, напразно, безуспешно...
     
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    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    P.S.: To think about it, there is still one expression which partly suits the both meanings.
    просто так (prósto ták, lit. "simply so"):
    1. for no reason;
    2. without any purpose;
    3. with no result achieved;
    4. for no gain; for free.
    In Macedonian, using the word така (taka), it is also possible to cover the meanings you mentioned, depending on the context:
    Examples:
    Така ми ги даде. lit. "[He/she] gave them to me like that (for nothing, for free, without any purpose...)"
    Така реков. lit. "I said it like that (for no reason)."
    Така работев. lit. "I worked like that (for no money, for free, without any purpose...)"
    Така ми помина цел ден. lit. "I spent whole day like that (in vain, with no result achieved...)"
     
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