2011-03-03

αμέτι μουχαμέτι, "Come Hell or High Water"

As I alluded to in the previous post, this post is about how the Ottoman phrase ümmet-i Muhammed, "Nation of Muhammad", turned into the Modern Greek expression αμέτι μουχαμέτι, "come hell or high water".

The material for this post is taken from the Magnificent Nikos Sarantakos' Blog—as much of the material on this blog is. The expression was brought up in an earlier, inconclusive post by Sarantakos, with help by the Ottomanist Diver of Sinks. But the expression has recently been given a magisterial treatment by Vasilis Orfanos. To trace the development of the expression, Orfanos made use of several sources, including writings by Muslim speakers of Greek—who were how the expression got into Greek to begin with.

The expression appears to have undergone a shift in analysis, helped along by Greek-speakers who no longer understood Turkish. The difficulty is in working out when exactly the shift happened: the texts don't tell us unambiguously—precisely because the shift relied on ambiguity to take place, as a metonymic change. That's a question I'll try to explore in a followup post.

But let's start with how the modern expression is used, before we go back to the early 1800s.

The Modern Greek usage of αμέτι μουχαμέτι is as an adverbial phrase, meaning "perforce, at any cost, done with stubborn insistence." It conveys a negative attitude towards the person insisting, although Orfanos has noticed that it has started being used positively. (His example is from a deputy minister's interview on the radio.) It is usually used with a light verb, whose subject is the person insisting:
  • θέλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι accusative NOUN OR να VERB, "he wants, ameti moukhameti, NOUN/ to VERB"
  • το έχει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has it ameti moukhameti to..."
  • το έχει βάλει αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set it ameti moukhameti to..."
  • βάλθηκε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να... "he has set himself ameti moukhameti to..."

The phrase is colloquial, but in wide use; Orfanos has gathered the following examples from the recent press (only the last is a web-only publication):
  • Το 'βαλαν αμέτι-μουχαμέτι, αργά ή γρήγορα θα συνέβαινε, δεν συνέβη τη μία, δεν συνέβη την επομένη, συνέβη τη μεθεπομένη. "They set it ameti moukhameti: it would happen sooner or later. It didn't happen the first time or the second; it did happen the third."
  • Η Ντόρα ήθελε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να πάει για τις υπογραφές. "[Politician] Dora [Bakoyannis] wanted ameti moukhameti to go and get the signatures.
  • Ο Υπουργός Δημοσίων Έργων […] το έβαλε αμέτι μουχαμέτι να τον εκτρέψει. "The minister of Public Works set out ameti moukhameti to derail him."
  • Τα 1.280.000 ευρώ πρέπει να γίνουν, αμέτι μουχαμέτι, ποδηλατόδρομος, αλλιώς θα τα χάναμε. "The 1.28 million euros must be spent ameti moukhameti for a bicycle path; otherwise we'll lose them."

The phrase is almost always now αμέτι μουχαμέτι, although Orfanos has noted a couple of instances of αμέτη μουαμέτη and αμέτ μουαμέτ (which are earlier attested variants.) The phrase αμέτι μουχαμέτι is quite opaque to Greek speakers now; Sarantakos notes that speakers often reanalyse it as αμέτι μου χαμέτι "my ameti khameti", or even αμέτι μου χαμέτι μου "my ameti, my khameti"—with khameti just as as opaque as ameti. Orfanos has noted it go even further online, dropping the seeming possessives and ending up as αμέτι χαμέτι, or garbling μουχαμέτι as αμέτι μω χαμέτι or αμέτι μουμ χαμέτι.

It was always clear what moukhameti meant: Μουχαμέτης was the colloquial rendering of Muhammad in Greek—although now that few Greek speakers know any Muslims, Muhammad for them has retreated to the Puristic safety of Μωάμεθ. An indirect confirmation is given by commenter LandS: the Constantinopolitans he has heard pronounce the expression as αμέτιμουhαμέτι, with the [h] of Turkish Muhammed. Orfanos finds the same [h] in the Greek–French dictionary by Ipitis (see end of this post).

So it was clear that the phrase is Muslim—and presumably Ottoman Turkish in origin; but it wasn't clear what it meant. Ameti Muhammed, we can be reasonably sure, is not how the expression started off in Turkish. The Persian loan amed "he came" was used to mean"arrival; income; import", as Tasos Kaplanis found; so Amed Muhammed could mean "Muhammad is coming"—if we assume that Turkish-speakers had completely forgotten how the syntax of their own language worked. But, as Diver of Sinks concludes, that is hardly a plausible explanation.

Unfortunately, Greek dictionaries don't check their Turkish particularly carefully when giving etymologies; so a phantom Turkish word amet has ended up in the Triantaphyllides Institute Dictionary's etymology. Several etymologies were proposed in the discussion of the first post:
  • amet muhabbet, "(ghost word) friendly chat" (?!) (Triantaphyllides Institute)
  • adet-i Muhammed, "custom of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks, cited in Sarantakos' first post, though he admits never seeing such an expression)
  • adet-i mukaddem "longstanding custom", "legal precedent" (Diver of Sinks: a commonplace expression, which may have been conflated with the actual etymology)
  • med Muhammed "extension, Muhammad" (Sarantakos, trying to explain an earlier form of the expression, μετ Μουχαμέτ; Nikiplos, reinterpreting it as "lineage of Muhammad")
  • meded-i Muhammed "aid of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks correcting Sarantakos, and unconvinced by Nikiplos' proposal; med is a rare and learnèd word)
  • Albanian me Muhammedi "with Muhammad" (Ilefoufoutos, not confidently either)

But we will go with ümmet-i Muhammed "Nation of Muslims", given in the 2nd edition of the Babiniotis dictionary, and before it in Pamboukis' Turkish lexicon of Modern Greek (Παμπούκης Ι.Τ. 1988. Τουρκικό λεξιλόγιο της νέας ελληνικής, Vol. 1, ed. Κ. Γ. Κασίνης, Athens: Παπαζήσης, p. 152.) Sarantakos' first post was inconclusive, which is why commentors were still suggesting other explanations, although "Nation of Muslims" was accepted as the likeliest. It was Orfanos' post, with its extensive examples, that swayed readers to accept it as the etymology.

ümmet is how the expression shows up at its earliest, as Orfanos found, as ουμέτι and ιμέτι (since Modern Greek, unlike Attic, Albanian, and Turkish, does not have an [y] sound). But ümmet sounds nothing like αμέτι, so some word must have intervened to lead Greek speakers astray. The earliest users of the expression that Orfanos found were either Muslims, or Ottoman subjects well acquainted with Turkish (Pontians); but αμέτι was already being used in song in 1825. The possible interference on ümmet to produce ameti include:
  • adet-i mukaddem "longstanding custom", "legal precedent" (Diver of Sinks; a possibility, since Ottoman legal precedent would have seem as unreasonable insistence to Christian Ottoman subjects—but that implies that the Greek speakers who mangled the expression understood legal Ottoman Turkish just fine, which seems odd to me.)
  • meded-i Muhammed "aid of Muhammad" (Diver of Sinks; would explain the attested old variant μετ Μουχαμέτ, but not ameti; at any case, Muslims call on Allah's aid, not Muhammad's.)
  • αμέτε "go on!" (Commenter Άναυδος ["Speechless"], very tentatively—so tentatively, he may not have realised he was proposing it; but I find the notion compelling. Tasos Kaplanis liked it too.)
  • The proper name Ahmed (Commenter Strabo of Amasea—and independently Fauriel, who rendered the expression in French as Ahmet! Mahomet!, in 1825. Diver of Sinks had rejected the possibility, since he has never seen the two names of Ahmad and Muhammad together.)
  • Rhyme with (Μουχ)αμέτη "Muhammad" (Orfanos, and the temptation to make the alien warcry into a singsong rhyme is the most plausible explanation.)
  • Μα το Μουχαμέτη "By Muhammad!" (Orfanos, to explain not the sound of αμέτι μουχαμέτι, but the semantics it has picked up, as a commitment to do something.)


Orfanos in his treatise goes through sources available through Google (including the Anemi digital library of Modern Greek Studies and the Open Archives federated search of Greek digital libraries); he supplemented these with visits to the library of the City of Herakleion and of the University of Crete at Rethymnon. What is notable about his survey is that it includes examples from clearly Muslim Greek, in which the expression had its original meaning.

I'm using Orfanos' examples for the same purpose as he did, to illustrate how the change happened. There's 19 of them, and I'm going to just list them here, with commentary. But I'm going to delay tracing what happened overall till a later post.
(1) Poem on the birth of the prophet Muhammad, translation from the Turkish by a Cretan Muslim (18th century):
Τον κύριο παρακάλεσαν να κάμη μερχαμέτι
Και να τους κάμη ολουνούς του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι
They begged the Lord to show compassion,
and to make them all Moukhamet's oumeti.

This is the literal meaning of ümmet-i Muhammad as "members of the Muslim community", and the expression is fully assimilated into the Greek of the poem: ουμμέτι has been borrowed as a noun, and Μουχαμέτ' is preceded by a genitive article, so that του Μουχαμέτ’ ουμμέτι is syntactically Greek (although the word order is still copied across from Turkish).

(2) Folk song on the destruction of the cathedral of Trebizond. (So described by Papadopoulos-Kerameus, but this is clearly a written poem, with Puristic in it.) (Cathedral destroyed 1665; manuscript written 1811):
το βρωμερόν του [στόμα] άνοιξεν [ο μουφτής] και τον υιόν του κράζει·
«Γλήγορα δράμε στο τσαρσί, τους Τούρκους όλους λάλει·
μικροί μεγάλοι, όλοι τους –­ ουμέτι Μουαμέτη –­
ας δράμουν στην μητρόπολι να κάμωμεν το φέτι».
ευθύς αυτοί, σαν τἄκουσαν, μετά χαράς πηδούσι·
ωσάν θηρία άγρια τρέχουν και πιλαλούσι.
καβαλλικεύει και αυτός έτζι δαιμονισμένος,
φωνάζοντας «Να δράμετε, του Μωαμέτη γένος».
[The mufti] open his filthy [mouth] and called his son:
"Quickly run to the market, tell all the 'Turks' [Muslims]:
young and old, all of them—oumeti Mouameti
should run to the cathedral so we can subjugate it."
Immediately on hearing this they gladly leap,
they run and rush like savage beasts.
He too rode his horse, possessed,
shouting: "Run, nation of Muhammad."

The poem renders ümmet-i Muhammed in both Turkish and Greek, so its author knew what the expression meant in Turkish. This is the first instance of ümmet-i Muhammed as a war cry.

(3) Alipashiad, a poem written in praise of Ali Pasha by the Muslim Hatzi Sekhretis (Haxhi Shehreti) (before 1817):
Αλήπασας σαν τ’ άνοιξε και βλέπει το φερμάνι,
Λίγο γκιδέρι ’ς την καρδιά αρχίνησε και βάνει.
«Ορίστε, λεγ’ Αλήπασας, ιμέτι Μουχαμέτη,
Χαΐρι δεν εχούμε ’μεις εφέτ’ απ’ το ντουβλέτι.»
When Ali Pasha opened and saw the firman,
he had a little sorrow in his heart:
"See," Ali Pasha says, "imeti Moukhameti,
we're not seeing any joy from the government this year!"

Clearly this has nothing to do with stubborness; Ali Pasha is figuratively addressing the Nation of Muhammad (ümmet-i Muhammed), his fellow Muslims, and Leake, in paraphrasing the poem, says that "Alý exclaims on receiving this answer, 'We have no satisfaction this year from the government'."
To make sense of the use of ümmet-i Muhammed, Orfanos refers to Kieffer & Bianchi's 1850 French–Turkish dictionary: «امّت محمّد يوقم ummeti mouhhamed ioqmi. N’y a-t-il plus de religion mahométane? (Cri de détresse ou de révolte.)» (That is: ümmet-i Muhammed yokmı? "Is there no nation of Muhammad?" (Cry of distress or revolt). Or, as Orfanos puts it, "There goes our faith! There are no proper Muslims left!": as the Alipashiad goes on to say,
να ξέρετε μας μάγεψαν της Φράντζας οι διαβόλοι
και γνώσι δεν απόμεινε του βασιλιά στην Μπόλι.
"You should know that the devils of France have put a spell on us,
and there is no wisdom left with the king in the City [= the Sultan in Istanbul]."
There is evidence for a similar expression addressed by Muslims to Christians in folksong: "What are you doing, Christians! Are you not baptised?" (i.e. you are acting like pagans, you are acting indecently); Αν είστε βαφτισμένοι! "if you are baptised!" is still used as an exclamation of incredulity in Crete. Cf. the use of losing my religion in the Southern U.S., which I commented on with relation to slang.gr's Είδε το Χριστό φαντάρο "He saw Christ as a conscript": in a religious world, losing religion truly was considered equivalent to going insane.

(4) Alipashiad:
Τ’ ασκέρι του Βελήπασα πήρε να γονατίση,
’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη πολεμά τον [sic] πλάτη να γυρίση.
Κι ο Σιλικτάρης φώναξε· “ιμέτι, Μωχαμέτη,
’Σ τον ντιν ντουσμάνη σήμερα να κάμωμεν γαϊρέτι.
Να βγούμε μ’ άσπρο πρόσωπον σ’ ετούτο το σεφέρι,
Απάνω τους να πέσωμεν με το σπαθί ’σ το χέρι.
Veli Pasha's army was starting to capitulate,
it was trying to turn its back to the infidel enemy.
And the adjutant cried: "imeti, Mokhameti,
today against the infidel enemy we shall show endurance.
We shall acquit ourselves bravely in this expedition,
and fall on them with swords in our hands."

This is the usual war cry appealing to the faithful, rather than Ali Pasha's rhetorical agnosticism.
(Among the Turcisms of Haxhi Shehreti, I'd like to point out σεφέρι "war, expedition". English has the same word for expedition, from Arabic. Via Swahili. As safari.)
In both Haxhi Shehreti's examples, ümmet is rendered as imeti instead of the expected umeti. Commenter Mikhalios explains this by appealing to Haxhi Shehreti's Albanian background: Albanian /y/ is rendered in the Greek of Epirus as /i/. Hence gryka "dale", which appears as the local place name Γκρίκα/Γκρύκα /ɡrika/, and Ömer Vrioni, who Haxhi Shehreti refers to as Ιμέρ Πασάς "Imer Pasha", via Albanian Ymer. Haxhi Shehreti used /imeti muxameti/ in Greek, because he said O ymmeti Muhammed in Albanian.
…And let's make sure you get what happened with Ömer/Omer/Ymer Vrioni:

  • Turkish has /œ y u i/. Albanian has /y/ but not /œ/. Greek has neither /y/ nor /œ/.
  • The Arabic name 'Umar, Omar ends up in Turkish as Ömer /œmer/, because of vowel harmony.
  • Greek has no rounded front vowels; a medial Turkish /œ/ is rendered as /jo/: Karagöz > Καραγκιόζης /karagjozis/. I can't find a good example of a Turkish word starting with /œ/ ending up in Modern Greek, but rendering it as /o/ was clearly an option. So Ομέρ /omer/.
  • Albanian does not have /œ/, but it had the option of rendering the mid front rounded vowel as a mid front vowel, /o/, or a rounded front vowel, /y/. It picked the rounded vowel: Ymer /ymer/.
  • But the Greek of Epirus borrows Albanian /y/ as /i/, and not as /u, ju/ as in the rest of Greek. So Ομέρ in the Alipashiad is Ιμέρ /imer/.

(5) Ioannes Nathanail, Ευβοϊκά (1858, incident occuured in 1821):
μετά δε την σύσκεψιν αναστάντες ο Ομέρ Βρυών Πασάς και ο Ομέρμπεης ίππευσαν και περιήρχοντο [στη Χαλκίδα] από οικίας εις οικίαν μετά θυροκρούστου· και ο μεν έκρουεν την θύρα, οι δε έσωθεν απεκρίνοντο “κιμ ντιρ”· ο δε έξωθεν ”αμέτ Μωαμέτ, αύριον να ήσθε έτοιμοι, θα πάμε εις τα Βρυσάκια κατά των κλεφτών”.
After their meeting Ömer Vrioni Pasha and Ömer Bey rode their horses, and wandered from house to house with a door knocker. The door knocker knocked on the door, and those inside would answer: Kimdir? [Who is it?] Those outside said: "amet Moamet, be ready tomorrow, we will go to Vrysakia against the brigands."

Ömer is literally answering the question "who is there" with the answer "[we are of the] Nation of Muhammad", namely, "we are Muslims". This is not necessarily a warcry; but note that forty years on, Nathanail has already garbled ümmet-i Muhammed into amet Moamet—so he has turned the expression into ameti muxameti, even if the "hell or high water" meaning isn't there yet.

(6) Folk song on Georgakis and Farmakis, published by Claude Fauriel (1825):
Ένας πασάς αγνάντευεν πέρα από του Σέκου.
Ψηλήν φωνήν εσήκωσεν· «Αμέτη, Μωαμέτη!
Πιάστε τον τόπον δυνατά, ζώστε το μοναστήρι.»
A pasha was keeping watch beyond Sekos.
He cried out with a shrill voice: "Ameti Moameti!
Fortify the place boldly: surround the monastery."

Rendered by Fauriel as Ahmet! Mahomet!: Mais un pacha était en observation de l’autre côté de Sékos – «Ahmet! Mahomet!» se met-il à crier d’ une voix haute; – emparez-vous bravement des postes; entourez le monastère. This is the first evidence that someone did not understand the expression, and it may not just have been the visiting Frenchman.

(7) Letter by Field Marshal Theodoros Kolokotronis to the government (1827):
η έφοδος αύτη των εχθρών […] οίτινες τυφοίς όμμασι, και με το αμέτ μουχαμέτ ώρμησαν κατά των ιδικών μας, μη δειλιάσαντες ολοτελώς τον θάνατον όπου ελάμβανον.
This attack by the enemies […] who with blind eyes and an "Amet Moukhamet" rushed onto our men, not at all fearing the death they were being dealt.

Clearly a reference to the warcry, now nominalised.

(8) Lambros Koutsonikas, General History of the Greek Revolution (1863, events of 1821–1827)
[…] αλαλάζοντες δε εφώναζαν οι βάρβαροι μετ Μουχαμέτ εμπρός (δια της ισχύος του Μωάμεθ) και έτρεχαν ως οι τετυφλωμένοι χοίροι, χωρίς να βλέπουν έμπροσθέν των.
and the barbarians screamed, shouting "met Moukhamet onwards" (through the power of Muhammad), and ran like blinded swine, without looking in front of them.

Here and in the following, the expression is a war cry, but in the variant form met muxamet. The variant led commenters to speculate on alternate derivations for the expression, but they have not come up again since, and may well be a mishearing by Koutsonikas.

(9) Koutsonikas (1863, events of 1821–1827)
[Οι Τούρκοι] ώρμησαν ως σμίνος επί του μεγάλου πύργου και εφώναξαν «ορέ ποιος είναι εδώ μέσα» οι δε απεκρίθησαν, «Σουλιώται είναι ορέ τούρκοι με τον Κουτσονίκα, και αν αγαπάτε κοπιάστε». Ακούσαντες δε οι βάρβαροι εφώναξαν «Μετ Μουχαμέτ, επάνω τους» και αμέσως ώρμησαν κατά του πύργου.
[The Turks] swarmed at the great tower, and shouted: "Hey! Who's in here?" And they replied: "Hey, Turks! It's Souliotes under Koutsonikas here; and if you feel up to it, come over." When the barbarians heard this, they shouted: "Met Moukhamet, attack them," and they rushed at the tower immediately.

Again, explicitly a war cry.

(10) Folk song Siege of Messolonghi (published 1874, events of 1825)
Όλοι τους ωρκισθήκανε αμέτι Μουχαμέτη,
στο Μεσολόγγι να εμβούν, να κάμουν κιαμέτι .
Ημέρα των Χριστουγεννών προ τού να ξημερώση·
Αλλάχ, Αλλάχ! εφώναξαν, κη έκαμαν το γιουρούσι·
They all swore Ameti Moukhameti
to enter Messolonghi and cause havoc.
Before the dawn of Christmas Day,
they shouted "Allah! Allah!" and launched the raid.

Legrand's translation: Tous ont juré par Mahomet d’entrer dans Missolongi pour y faire de déluge. Le jour de Noel, avant l’aurore, il ont crié Allah! Allah! Et ont donné l’assaut.
This example has been published late, so it does not necessarily mean the reanalysis to "at any cost" had happened in 1825. But it does allow both interpretations: they swore, (saying) "Nation of Muhammad!"—that they would enter Messolonghi; or they swore that at any cost they would enter Messolonghi. Orfanos highlights this and the next instances as the first time when the war cry conveys an explicit undertaking to do something—which is necessary for the subsequent interpretation of unreasonable insistence. Legrand's translation, "they all swore by Muhammad", is clearly guesswork.

(11) Cretan folksong on the death of the rebel Xopateras (1828):
κι εφτά αγαδάκια ήσφαξε, τσι κεφαλές τως παίρνει.
Στο Γιόφυρο τσι τσίτωσε κι έκαμε μπαϊράκι
κι οι Τούρκοι τσι θωρούσανε κι επίνανε φαρμάκι.
«Σούμπα Αλλάχ» φωνιάζανε κι «Αμέτη Μουχαμέτη»
να πα’ να πχιάσου ν-το μ-παπά, να ησυχάσει η Κρήτη.
He killed seven lords, he took of their heads.
He impaled them in Giofyros [near Herakleion] and raised his banner.
The Turks saw them and were envenomed.
"Glory to Allah" they cried and "Ameti Moukhameti":
they would go seize the priest, to calm Crete down.

Literally, these are just war cries in response to the Christian massacre; but Orfanos notes that this too sounds in context like the modern meaning: "at any cost, they would go seize the priest".

(12) Stefanos Xenos, Η Κιβδηλεία, Vol. 1, London, p. 11 (1859)
αλλά ο Γαρδικιότης είναι Αμέτ Μουαμέτ κατά του στραβού, και κατά βεβαιώτητα μας δίδει δεν θα τον αφύση προς ικανοποίησιν αυτού εις Σμύρνην τον στραβόν
But Gardikiotis is Amet Mouamet opposed to the blind man, and he assures us that he will not give the blind man the satisfaction of remaining in Smyrna

Orfanos believes this is an intermediate sense between the war cry and the notion of unreasonable insistence: where the modern use is adverbial, this is adjectival, and it means "to be a sworn enemy of, to have spite towards". Tasos Kaplanis however thinks this is the modern usage, unmodified: "he is, come hell or high water, against the blind man."

(13) Report in the newspaper Aeon on the destruction of Arkadi monastery (1867)
Ο Μουσταφάς, περικυκλωμένος υπό των λοιπών πασάδων, ομιλεί, αφρίζει και με το αλβανικόν του πείσμα κραυγάζει. “Αμέτ-Μουαμέτ θα τους κάψουμε!”
Mustafa, surrounded by the other pashas, speaks, foams at the mouth, and shouts with his Albanian obstinacy: "Amet-Mouamet we will burn them down!"

A war cry, but straightforwardly interpreted as a commitment, "at any cost". Stubbornness is the ethnic stereotype in Modern Greece of Arvanites; I have no reason to doubt the same stereotype was extended to their Muslim fellow–Albanian-speakers.

(14) Cretan folksong on the death of the rebel Pavlos Dedidakis (1867):
οι Τούρκοι απού το φόβο τους, αλάχ! αλάχ! φωνιάζου,
το Μουχαμέτη για να ρθη να τσοι βουηθήση κράζου·
Ρεσίτ Πασάς εφώνιαξεν αμέτη μουχαμέτη!
Όπου κι αν επολέμησα δεν είδ’ ετσά σικλέτη.
The Turks were so scared, they cried "Allah! Allah!"
They shouted for Muhammad to come help them;
Reshid Pasha shouted: "Ameti Moukhameti!
Wherever I have fought, I have never seen such sorrow!"

Orfanos notes that as the power balance between Muslims and Christians shifted in Crete, ümmet-i Muhammed in Christian folksong went from a show of strength to a cry of despair from the now weakened Muslims. I don't see such pleading in the 1828 Xopateras song, but it is clear in this song—along with the misconstrual of Muhammad's role as an intercessor: the Christians were on the rise, notwithstanding their defeat in the 1866 rebellion, and no longer had to care about details of Islamic theology. This pleading, of course, cannot have given rises to αμέτι μουχαμέτι indicating obstinacy: that sense predates this.

(15) Song about Marigo Lambrakis in Archanes, Crete (1897):
Και τότε φόβος τσοι ’πιασε μέσα εις την καρδία.
Ο Σουβαρής εφώναξε Αμέτη Μουχαμέτη
των Αρχανών ο πόλεμος δεν έχει μερχαμέτι
Then fear seized them in their hearts.
The messenger shouted "Ameti Moukhameti,
the war of Archanes has no mercy."

As with the 1867 song, this is now a cry of despair rather than a rallying cry.

(16) Cretan song about the death of Tryfitsos (1897):
και οι μπουρμάδες λέγανε αμέτι μου χαμέτι
και ο Τρυφίτσος είν κιοσές που μας-ε παίζει μπέτι
And the converts [= Muslim Cretans] said: "Ameti mou khameti
and Tryfitsos is the one who is firing at our chests."

Same story as the previous two songs. Whoever transcribed the song (Sarantakos doesn't give a citation) did not work out the connection with Muhammad, and split the word up—as many contemporary Greeks do.

(17) Alexandros Papadiamantis, Οι χαλασοχώρηδες (1892)
Αλλά την φοράν ταύτην ο Αλικιάδης είχεν απόφασιν, “Αμέτ Μουαμέτ”, να βάλη τη δουλειά εμπρός. Α! δεν τον εγελούσαν αυτόν με το σήμερα και με το αύριο οι εργολάβοι.
But this time Alikiadis had decided, Amet Mouamet, to go ahead with the venture. Oh, the contractors were not going to get the better of him with their "todays" and "tomorrows".

This is the modern meaning of αμέτι μουχαμέτι, though its pronunciation is still closer to ümmet-i Muhammed.

(18) Alexandros Papadiamantis, Τα δύο τέρατα (1909)
Ο γερο-Μακρής ο Βαβδινός, σεβάσμιος τοκογλύφος, είχε κατέλθει εις τον εκλογικόν αγώνα και το είχεν αμέτ Μωαμέτ, να γίνη δήμαρχος.
Old Makris Vavdinos, a reverend usurer, had entered into the electoral fray and had it amet Moamet to become mayor.

The expression now finally is associated with a verb, το είχε "he had it...", as it is in contempotorary Greek.

(19) Antonios Ipitis, Λεξικόν ελληνο-γαλλικόν και γαλλο-ελληνικόν (Greek–French Dictionary) (1908)
«αμέτι-μουhαμέτι [δημ.] εκ προμελέτης, avec préméditation, ήρθε αμέτι μουhαμέτι να μαλώση = ήλθεν εκ προμελέτης ίνα ερίση»
ameti-mouhameti (vernac.) "with premeditation": he came ameti-mouhameti to fight = "he came with premeditation to conflict"

Explicit confirmation of the generalisation of the expression. Note the Turkish use of [h] rather than [x].


Yes, it's a long list, and I need to take a breather...

3 comments:

  1. An excellent presentation, as usual -now I can recommend it to a Turk friend of mine!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice article, thanks for the information.

    ReplyDelete

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