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Mãy-paygêr asat bara zotam, punn hanv bhik magun khatam

Posted by on December 23, 2014

My father commands the royal fleet, but I'm a beggar on the street

Mãy-paygêr asat bara zotam, punn hanv bhik magun khatam  literally means, “My parents have a dozen yokes but I beg and eat”.  The English word “yoke” here means, “a pair of animals yoked together” (Oxford Dictionary) and that’s the exact meaning of the Konkani word, zot Zot is neuter in gender, and zotam  is the plural of zot.

Mãy means ,”mother” and pay stands for “father”, so Mãy-pay  denotes “parents”. The suffix gêr  stands for “in the house of” or “at the place of”, so mãy-paygêr  means “at my parents’ place”. Gêr is almost exactly equivalent to the French chez de and is very frequently used in Konkani. So amgêr  stands for “at my place” or “at our place”, tumgêr,   “at your place” and tangêr,  “at his/her/their place.” Asat, as you know, is the formal and written form of the colloquial ahat, while bara, which literally means twelve, stands for “plenty of” or “umpteen.” Bhik  is a noun meaning alms and magunk  is to ask. But bhik magunk,  as a phrase, means to beg. So hanv bhik magun khatam means “I beg and eat.” Magun  is the past participle of magunk, and although bhik magun doesn’t have an exact English equivalent, its literal English translation would be “having asked for alms”.

The proverb tries to portray quite a common situation wherein a member of a family or any other close group is languishing out of some deprivation, whereas the rest of his family or close associates enjoy the best of privileges. It would appear that the proverb evolved from the parable of the prodigal son, whose feelings it seems to reflect.

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