Could someone who speaks Cypriot Greek tell what “λεγνά” is/are?

By: | Post date: 2017-02-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

A2A, and I don’t speak Cypriot.

Well, this is quite the puzzle.

The lyric goes:

Τ’ άι Φιλίππου δκιάβηκε, τζι ήρτεν τ’ άι Μηνά,
τζι οι κορασιές παντρεύκουνται τζι αλλάσσουν τα λεγνά

St Philip’s day is gone, St Menna’s day is here,
and girls get married, and the slender ones change/and change the slender ones.

I’ve been through several Cypriot dictionaries, and the only definition they give for λεγνός (Standard Greek λιγνός) is “slender, slight”.

Lots of people on YouTube are confused by the term, but the consensus there is that it refers to slender girls, with a hypocoristic (“cutesy”) neuter. Λυγερή “my slender one” is a mainstay of Greek folk song.

So, the slender maidens change? Because they get married?

There’s a song lyric Larkos Larkou – Composer – Musician – Cyprus, which also refers to changed slenders:

Θεέ μου τζαι να πέθανα το Σάββατον το βράδυ
Τζαι Τζερκατζήν που το πρωί να κατεβώ στον Άδη
Πον’ οι παπάδες αδειανοί τζαι τα λεγνά αλλαμένα
Να συναχτούν να κλάψουσιν ξηχωριστά για μένα.

God, would that I died Saturday night,
and descended to the Netherworld Sunday morning
when the priests are empty (at leisure ?!) and the slenders are changed
so they can gather and cry especially for me.

Sunday is when priests are not at leisure, but I guess they are available for funerals, they’re at church anyway. But it would make sense that the male singer would like young girls to cry over his funeral. And on a Sunday, the girls have changed into their Sunday best. So I think that’s what the original lyric means:

“and girls get married, and slender maidens [used here as synonym for girls] change [into their Sunday best, for St Menna’s Day]”

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