Titelbild der EENS

Ευρωπαϊκή Εταιρεία Νεοελληνικών Σπουδών

Γ΄ συνέδριο της Ευρωπαϊκής Εταιρείας Νεοελληνικών Σπουδών

Anna Lazarova

Πάρε-δώσε and взeмане-даване as metonymy of inter-personal relations
in Modern Greek and Bulgarian

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the ways in which interpersonal relationships are expressed and conceptualized by speakers of Modern Greek and Bulgarian. Lexical items from the discourse of daily life which reflect the common folk theory of communication and human relationships as a whole and highlight their exchange or even “commercial” aspect, are the focus of the present study, namely the Greek figurative expression έχω πάρε - δώσε ( με ) and the Bulgarian equivalent имам вз e мане-даване (с).
According to the definitions of Halliday (1985: 319-320), which reflect the traditional approach to metaphor and metonymy, the respective expressions are metonyms – word “used for some thing related to that which it usually refers to” – or even synecdoche – word “used for some larger whole of which that which it refers to is a part”.

In cognitive treatments metonymy is viewed as conceptual process. One of Lakoff and Johnson’s main points was that we actually understand the world with metonyms and metaphors and do not just speak with them. “But metonymy is not merely a referential device. It also serves the function of providing understanding. For example, in the case of the metonymy THE PART FOR THE WHOLE there are many parts that can stand for the whole. Which part we pick out determines which aspect of the whole we are focusing on.” (Lakoff and Johnson 1980: 36) Thus the expressions έχω πάρε - δώσε and имам вз e мане-даванеreveal a special case of the above mentioned general metonymy in the conceptual system of Greeks and Bulgarians which structure their attitude towards inter-personal relations.

In Babiniotis’ dictionary (Μπαμπινιώτης 1998) two meanings of the expression in Modern Greek are given with a metonymic link: 1) οι οικονομικές σχέσεις, οι συναλλαγές (dealing, business). The example given is: έχω πάρε-δώσε με την εφορία (approximately “I have dealings with or carry out payments in the tax service”[1]) with synonyms : αλισβερίσι and δούναι και λαβείν (truck, dealing) and 2) οι διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις (inter-personal relations) for example έχει πολλά πάρε-δώσε τελευταία με τους γείτονες (“He has recently become quite close with his neighbours”) or Μην έχεις πολλά πάρε-δώσε μαζί του, θα μπλέξεις (“Don’t have much to do with him, you’ll get into trouble.”) . In this second example we find to a lesser or greater extent the slight negative value judgement of the relationships which is a constant semantic component of the expression. «…θα μπλέξεις» implies possible unpleasant consequences or danger ensuing from the contact. The synonyms of this use given are: συναναστροφή (company, friendship) and οικειότητα (intimacy, familiarity). In other words πάρε - δώσε is used to denote any social interrelation at a general level, which is frequently characterized with relative closeness and/or intensity. Here are some examples:

1. Δεν είχα και χρόνο, εξάλλου, εκείνες τις μέρες για πολλά κοινωνικά πάρε δώσε (...) Είχα πιάσει δουλειά.
“Also at the time I didn’t have time for social events… I had started work”

2. Η Λιάνα ζηλεύει που ο Μάρκος έχει πολλά πάρε δώσε με τη Νέλλη
“Liana is jealous that Markos is rather thick with Nelly.”

The figurative expression can refer to a conversation or exchange of views:

3. Ένα πάρε - δώσε, ένας διάλογος που πολλοί από μας έχουμε χάσει από την καθημερινότητά μας.
A give-and-take, a dialogue which has disappeared from daily life for many of us.”

In cognitive terms a similar use is a perfect illustration of Michael Reddy’s (1979) metalinguistic metaphor of verbal communication. As specified by the so-called ‘conduit metaphor’, speakers communicate by physically transferring word-objects to their addressees. So the elements of a prototypical scenario of giving and taking correspond closely with those involved in a typical speech-act scenario. The principal participants are there: the speaker/donor, the hearer/recipient, and the idea/object. John Vanparys (1995) has studied in detail all the related English verbs of giving, taking and exchanging.

Through the search engine Google (www.google.com), provided by the Internet as an enormous and chaotic corpus, we also registered another use of the expression, this time as a metaphor. Contrary to the cited examples, which present the expression only in the variant έχω πάρε - δώσε με κάποιον , i.e. ‘to have dealings with someone’, here we find έχω πάρε - δώσε με κάτι i.e. ‘to have dealings with something’:

4. Πάνω από τριανταπέντε χρόνια έχω πάρε δώσε με όργανα και τραγούδια και ήχο τόσο αληθινό δεν θυμάμαι να ξανάκουσα.
“For over thirty-five years I’ve been involved with instruments and songs, and I don’t recall having heard so real a sound.

5. …αποφεύγει όσο μπορεί τα πάρε δώσε με τους υπολογιστές.
“…(he) avoids as much as possible having anything to do with computers.”

In this variant the semantics of the expression is: “to deal with / to have experience in”. Here physical objects are specified as being a person, which allows us to comprehend experiences with nonhuman entities in terms of human activities. In other words we have a personification and ontological metaphor in the context of the Lakoff and Johnson’s theory. Playing of a musical instrument and working with a computer are quite far from the prototype scene of passing an object from hand to hand, yet we can imagine this to a certain extent as communication. So we are still aware of the metonymic basis in the metaphorical interpretation. This is what Louis Goossens (1995) calls metaphor from metonymy or “metaphtonymy”.

There are also other lexical items in Modern Greek, which map the structure in the discrete domain of commercial exchange onto the corresponding structure in the complex domain of interpersonal relationships as a whole. Such are δοσοληψίες (transaction, dealings), αλισβερίσι, νταραβέρια (νταλαβέρια) (trucks) and the derivative verb νταραβερίζομαι or κάνω / έχω νταραβέρι (to mix with s.b., to carry on with somebody), as well as έχω παρτίδες με κάποιον (to have s.th. to do with somebody.). All of them have a secondary metonymic meaning “more or less close relations, contact, communication”:

6. Στο μεταξύ όμως έχω δημιουργήσει δοσοληψίες με τον αδερφό του και την φίλη του, … Πώς να ξεκόψω χωρίς να δημιουργήσω δυσαρέσκειες;
“In the meantime I’d got quite close with his brother and his girl- friend…How to pull-out without disappointing them?”

7. Κάτι που δεν στο έχω πει ακόμα. Τόσο καιρό τώρα, όλο αυτό το αλισβερίσι της γνωριμίας μας πόσα δικά μου σου κρατάει ακόμα κρυφά;

“There is something I haven’t told you yet. I can’t imagine how many secrets of mine remain after all these years we’ve known each other.”

8. Κατ’ εμένα το παιχνίδι χάθηκε στο συναισθηματικό αλισβερίσι με το κοινό. Και είναι πράγματι απορίας άξιον γιατί μία μπάντα ενώ λειτουργεί τόσο καλά πάνω στη σκηνή δεν καταφέρνει να μεταδώσει το νεύρο της κάτω από αυτή…
“In my opinion emotional communication with the audience failed.In fact, one fails to make out how a rock-band is so successful on the stage, yet doesn’t succeed to convey its verve below the stage.”

or “love-affair, flirting”:


  • Ούτε με τους άνδρες που είχατε δίπλα σας κατά καιρούς θέλατε να εντυπωσιάσετε;
  • Όχι. Οι γκόμενοι που είχα νταραβέρι και ήμασταν ερωτευμένοι, ήταν για μένα.
  • “ You didn’t want to impress with the men which you had from time to time didn’t you?
  • No, the boy friends I had, and with whom I was in love with, were all my own.”

10. … τελεία και παύλα οι παρτίδες με το μοιραίο θηλυκό
“That’s the end of my relations with that femme fatale!”
(portal.kithara.gr/modules.php?name=kiSongdb&file=index&func=ss& id=MTcyMz5Mjk0 - 21k)

And here is a good example of a pun where the derivative verb νταραβερίζομαι is used in its two meanings at the same time, with reference to Bill Clinton:

11. Είναι αλήθεια ότι εγώ προσωπικώς δεν νταραβερίζομαι ούτε με τη
Μόνικα ούτε με την Τουρκία και ως εκ τούτου ο Μπιλ δεν θα είχε κανένα
λόγο να με ψάχνει τα άγρια μεσάνυχτα.
“Its true, I neither am flirting with Monika, nor am I involved in (shady)
Business with Turkey, so Bill would have no reason to look for me at

Alone the expression έχω νταλαβέρια has as a third meaning “relations of conflict, a quarrel”: δεν πληρώνει το νοίκι και θα έχουμε νταραβέρια (Μπαμπινιώτης 1998) (“He doesn’t pay his rent so will have a row.”)
It is interesting to note that all five expressions (not counting the derivatives) are in parallel use in contemporary Greek, in spite of three of them being loan words. Of course, as we could see from the examples, their semantics do not overlap a hundred percent. '

As was already mentioned in the beginning in contemporary Bulgarian there is an equivalent to the Greek πάρε- δώσε figurative expression вземане-даване. It could be said, that the two expressions are absolute equivalents, with the exception of one morphological difference: the Greek consists of the imperatives of the two verbs (παίρνω ‘to take’ and δίνω ‘to give’), while the Bulgarian one consists of verbal nouns of the same verbs (взимам ‘to take’ and давам ‘to give’). The lexical entry of the expression вземане-даване covers the specter of business, friendly and other relationship. Не искам да имам вземане даване с такива хора(BTR 1996) (“I don’t want to have anything to do with such people”)

12. Беше доста едър, имаше вид на човек, с когото по-добре да синямаш взимане-даване, затова най-големият му проблем бе как да убива времето. ...

“He was quite heavily built, he looked like one with whom it is better to
have nothing to do with, so his greatest problem was how to while away
(www.bard.bg/fragment.php3?BookID=601 - 51k)

13.Това може да го каже човек, който много малко има взимане-даване с фирмите в бранша
“Only someone who hasn’t had much dealings with companies in the branch can say that.”

14. Женкар? Жените, които си имат взимане-даване с такива екземпляри просто са същата стока като тях.
“A lady-killer? The women who consort with such men are simply tarred with the same brush.”
(forum.bg-mamma.com/index.php?topic=95349.20 - 118k)

etc. In analogy to the Greek πάρε - δώσε, in its variant имам вземане-даване с нещо (“to have something to do with something”) - once again not registered in dictionaries, and with a high frequency of the use - the Bulgarian expression has the meaning “to deal with / to be engaged in / to have experience with” and represents metaphor from the metonymy or “metaphtonymy”:

15. Тези две неща правят The Black Mirror крайно достъпна дори и за хора, които нямат взимане-даване с подобен жанр игри.
“These two things make ‘The Black Mirror’ quite accessible even for people who have nothing to do with such games.”
(www.gramis.com/igra.php?id=28 - 12k)

16. Ако приемем, че БСП изобщо няма взимане-даване със скандала и до нея не са стигнали иракски петродолари…
“If we believe, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has nothing to do with the scandal and Iraqi petrol-dollars haven’t reach it …”
(oshte.info/democracy/01authors/ ibrishimov6/ibrishimov238.htm - 26k)

Alongside with вземане-даване two of the above mentioned loan words also function in Bulgarian, namely алъш-вериш(aliş veriş) and далавера(dalavere), however they are only used in a more or less commercial context:

17. Хора, с които можеш да правиш алъш-вериш и да имаш достлук…
“People you can do business with and be friends with…”

Далавера is most often used in the phrase на далавера, which means “at a profit”:

18. Колата ми излезе много на далавера.
I bought the car at a good price

19. Хайде да спретнем една далавера.
“Lets do a deal that will bring in a profit”

According to Borislav Georgiev (1995) Bulgarians have warm feelings to this type of deals. In all these examples далавера or на далавера means “at an advantage” or ‘mutually advantageously’, and there is an element that what was in our interest may have been at a loss for the other party. Both алъш-вериш and далавера bear an element of dishonesty.

These two lexical items are also composed of the verbs ‘to take’ and ‘to give’ and literally mean “to have dealings with”. In the Dictionary of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BTR 1996) the Turkish expression алъш-вериш (< aliş veriş), of which the Bulgarian is a loan translation[2], is explained by the definition “having dealings with / sale/ commerce”, and далавера - as “shady business, shady deal / transaction”. Turkish origin is often attributed also to далавера (< dalavere), while actually its etymology comes from the columns of Italian account books “dare e l’avere”. However a similar compound word is nonexistent in Italian today…

In the Balkan situation of cultural and linguistic contacts and interference some of these lexical items have penetrated in all languages of the region, however their use has to a greater or lesser extent limited to commerce. They are characterized by a low frequency of use and are seen as obsolete by the native speakers of the respective languages.[3]

In other words, figurative expressions primarily related to the domain of commercial exchange are part of most Greek and Bulgarian speakers’ everyday talking and thinking about human relationship and they are important namely for the Greek and to a certain extent Bulgarian cultural and linguistic communities. For instance in English and French there are no exact equivalents for вз е мане-даване or πάρε - δώσε, even if there are expressions such as ‘give-and-take’ or ‘donnant donnant’, but with more or less different meaning. This does not mean that the bearers of Anglo-Saxon culture for example cannot think of personal relations in commercial terms, however this aspect of theirs does not have that special emphasis in English culture[4]. The metonymies under scrutiny are normal ways of talking about the experience of social interrelations in Greek and Bulgarian culture and have stood the test of time, which reveals something about the mentality of these two communities. So having in mind that conceptualized human experience often appears as metonymies (Kövecses 2005, 200), we could characterize this folk understanding of interpersonal relationships in Modern Greek and Bulgarian as a component of a cognitive or cultural model.

Anna Lazarova


BTR 1996: Bălgarski tălkoven rečnik.1996. Sofia: Izdatelstvo na Bălgarskata akademija na naukite.

D’Andrade 1995: R.G.D’Andrade. The development of cognitive anthropology. Cambridge University Press 1995

Georgiev 1995: B. Georgiev. http://slovo.bg/old/bgeorgiev/19950821.htm. 1995

Goossens 1995: L.Goossens. Metaphtonymy: The Interaction of Metaphor and Metonymy in Figurative Expressions for Linguistic Action. – In: By Word of Mouth: Metaphor, Metonymy, and Linguistic Action in a Cognitive Perspective. Amsterdam-Philadelphia 1995, 159-175

Halliday 1985: M.A.K. Halliday. An Introduction to functional grammar. London 1985

Kövecses 2005: Z.Kövecses. Metaphor in Culture. Universality and Variation. Cambridge University Press 2005

Lakoff and Johnson 1980: G. Lakoff and M. Johnson. Metaphors we live by. Chicago 1980

Μπαμπινιώτης 1998: Γ. Μπαμπινιώτης. Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας. Αθήνα 1998

Reddy 1979: M.J.Reddy. The conduit metaphor - a case of frame conflict in our language about language. - In: Metaphor and thought. Ed. A.Ortony. Cambridge University Press 1979, 284-297

Shore 1996: B. Shore. Cognition, culture, and the problem of meaning. Oxford and New York. Oxford University Press 1996

Vanparys 1995: J. Vanparys. A Survey of Metalinguistic Metaphors. – In: By Word of Mouth: Metaphor, Metonymy, and Linguistic Action in a Cognitive Perspective Amsterdam-Philadelphia 1995, 1-35



[1] The English translations of the examples do not claim to provide optimum precision and have only been given so that the general idea of the meaning becomes clear.

[2] I would like to express my gratitude to Prof. Kjetil Rå Hauge for our discussion about the etymology of these expressions.

[3] I deliberately set aside the question on the uses of ‘aliş veriş’ and ‘dalavere’ in Turkish and other Balkan languages, which shall be the subject of an extended study.

[4] In line with some current thinking in anthropology, we can think of culture as a set of shared understandings that characterize smaller or larger groups of people (e.g. D’Andrade 1995, Shore 1996)