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What is the best English translation of dai che ce dai?

Here is the situation in which I encountered the expression. One of my Italian friends was trying to send a sport climbing route which turned out to be quite challenging for him. But he decided to stick to it and not give up. And this was what one of the other guys said (or rather wrote, since it was FB discussion). This all happened in Campania.

I asked my Italian friend what this means and his answer was consistent with randomatlabuser's answer below. He just told me that the meaning of the expression is very difficult to translate into English, so hence my question — I wanted to know if someone can come up with an explanation.

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    and what would this mean?
    – mau
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 8:27
  • Something like: if you try and try to do something, you'll finally succeed. But I am not 100% sure since (apparently) this is very context dependent expression. Hence my question. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 8:29
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    this sounds like Roman dialect (romanesco), because of ce instead of ci, but I have never heard it, nor am I able to make any sense out of it (I'm from Rome). Could be because I'm 52. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 9:08
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    I'm afraid it is not Italian; it might be a dialectal version of dai e dai.
    – egreg
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 9:27
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    I googled for "dai che ce dai" (including quotes) and found hints to this being part of the repetition of "dai che ce", which could be the first part of "dai che ce la fai" (see @randomatlabuser's answer). I suspect this repetition (like "dai che ce... dai che ce... dai che ce...") to originate from a song, play, show, or some other performance Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 22:09

1 Answer 1

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I think you mean "dai che ce la fai", meaning "come on, you'll do it" or "come on, you can do it".

It could also be "dai che ce dai" in Romanesco dialect which in Italian would be written and pronounced "dai che ci dai", meaning "come on, you'll rock" ("darci" meaning to do something very well, better than expected - this is regional though). An alternative interpretation would be "dai che ce 'e dai" (in Italian "dai che ce le dai"), meaning about the same as above, but the verb is here "darcela", "darcele" (which can also mean to beat someone!). As often happens, dialects are more dirty than standard Italian and lots of meanings can spring out, apparently from nowhere, the context generally helps to clarify.

Please explain if you mean something else.

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  • What do you mean by “dirty”? And are you sure that darcele can mean to beat someone?
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:20
  • This is consistent with what I heard before about the phrase (see my edited question). Thanks a lot! Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:52
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    @DaG By dirty I mean flexible and chaotic in the sense Giuseppe Gioachino Belli clarifies in the introduction to his sonnets where he describes Romanesco as «una favella tutta guasta e corrotta» - grammar rules are often brutally ignored (after all grammar rules are made by linguists of the upper classes, not by those who actually speak the language and, by speaking it, invent it). As to your other remark: 'darcele, le botte' (!).
    – user193
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 17:14
  • no language is "dirty", it's just different! Italy is rife with dialectical differences which means inherent changes in grammar or pronunciation. it's just another way to say the same thing! ;)
    – nmc
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 12:15

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