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What does this phrase mean? It can be found, for instance, in Johhny Cash's song "I walk the line". I have seen it used elsewhere also but its meaning is a bit alien for me.
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I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my pants tied with twine all day and night
I keep the ends tied so the twine won't bind
Because you're mine no other pulls the twine

How's that?
"I keep the ends out for the ties that bind" means that he is careful to not let a flirtation or fling with another woman become something more. Sailors, miners, and other laborers who work with ropes (lines) keep the ends of tied ropes (ties) on the outside so that they can be quickly loosed. If your tie is hard to loose, a heavy force or weight can kill you if and when the weight shifts or other ties are loosed. A sailor unfurling a sail can be struck from the yardarm if his tie isn't loosed at nearly the same time as all the other sailors' ties; a miner hauling a carriage of coal with a line wants to be able to loose the harness quickly if the carriage tips off the track; etc. "Keep the ends out, lads" was a common expression among sailors in foreign ports, referring to relations with local girls. In modern parlance, it's "Find 'em, f*** 'em, and forget 'em."
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you need to ask a farmer who is bales hay the old fashioned way

the ends that are out are used to bind the hay .
i think johny cash had his end out and he wanted to get knotted
CB, I think you have accurately translated the intent of the metaphor but not the words themselves, i.e., the tenor but not the vehicle (if I have my semantics jargon right). Can you put the words into Finnish for us?
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ThatOneEyedSnowm CB, I think you have accurately translated the intent of the metaphor but not the words themselves, i.e., the tenor but not the vehicle (if I have my semantics jargon right). Can you put the words into Finnish for us?

I see no point in doing that because a verbatim translation of I keep the ends out would mean nothing to a Finn in this context. It would be incomprehensible. But, if you insist, pidän päät ulkona is the verbatim, nonsensical translation.

CB

I do see your point. But couldn't you express it in the words a Finnish farmer would use, as was suggested by an earlier poster? I figure the same phenomenon (keeping the ends free and available to facilitate tying the knot? Not to beat a dead horse.... Emotion: smile

ThatOneEyedSnowm But couldn't you express it in the words a Finnish farmer

The idea of translation is to translate the meaning, not the words.

CB

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Ok. Just wondering, if there was an equivalent expression in Finnish, would you give it? Here’s another one more a propos: Don’t beat a dead horse. Thank you.
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