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What is the origin of the expression Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода.?

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    There are many other variants. Here is one with the rhyme: "Да будет свет! - сказал монтёр и жопу фосфором натёр." – Artemix Oct 30 '13 at 10:24
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    The most full variant I've heard is: Да будет свет! - сказал монтёр / И перерезал провода, / Но жопу фосфором натёр - / И так светил он до утра. But I guess this is late contamination of other variants to something much more expressive:) – Netch Nov 7 '13 at 6:32
  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about Russian language. – Anixx Feb 27 '14 at 18:06
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I don't think this phrase has "origin" (other than modern folklore - thanks to Yellow Sky for the remark). It seems to me that this phrase has a very simple structure and it could be invented many times by different persons.

The phrase begins with "Да будет свет!" ("Let there be light!"). Here we should note that "свет" is usually a synonym of "электричество". "У вас есть свет?" is a very common phrase that means "Is there an electricity in your house?". "У нас нету света" is used to describe power outage.

So, when someone sits without "light" for several hours waiting for an electrician that will fix it and finally turns the switch and the light is back - in many cases this biblical phrase comes to mind.

Next, an electrician himself may use this phrase in literal sense to emphasize his light-bringer mission. So, we got "Да будет свет! - сказал электрик".

Next stage - is adding counter-effect to the above phrase by changing "light-bringer" to "light-destroyer" - and here "перерезал провод" is added.

As you can see, all three stages are very basic ("ассоциации первого уровня") and can be performed by any person with basic sense of humor.

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  • I'd say the origin of the phrase is folklore, besides it's iambic tetrameter: "Да будет свет!" сказал монтёр // И перерезал провода. – Yellow Sky Oct 30 '13 at 12:13
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    Does modern folklore qualifies as origin? (just asking). By the way - here people are gathering all the alternative endings of the phrase. – Artemix Oct 30 '13 at 12:22
  • Sure, why not? There's lots of modern folklore in verses, often rhymed. – Yellow Sky Oct 30 '13 at 12:40
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wellerism

It's based on the Charles Dickens idea of using clichéd sayings in unexpected ways.

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  • It is the term for such phrases, but it does not explain where the phrase came from. – Olga Feb 28 '14 at 7:35
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I second the previous answers. The joke is build on replacing the subject of the Biblical phrase "Let there be light" to an unexpected person (possibly having to do something with light and electricity). Given a great number of streetwise phrases starting with Да будет свет!, it's nearly impossible to say which one appeared first and who was its author. If you can read in Russian, I'd recommend this page with several examples.

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I haven't got right to comment yet. I absolutely agree with Eurice - it is the clearest reference to Genesis, though the phrase is so popular that it is not : Да будет свет! И стал свет. That shows that it's the part of city folklore of literate people: you see, the Bible (and the Old Testament) was not the book everybody read but there were a dozen or so lines everybody knew, and "Let there be light" is one of them. It maybe an off-topic, but to learn the full set of Bible phrases a common Soviet engineer or doctor used to know, you could look at Jean Effel's book. He was a French communist, I guess, very popular in the USSR with his cartoon book "Creation" (Сотворение мира), which was staged at the famous Moscow Puppet Theatre as "Божественная комедия" (sorry, don't know how it is in English - "Divine Comedy"? - as Dante's). A few had the book at home (it was hard to buy books in the USSR), and even fewer visited Obraztsov's Puppet Theatre (it was impossible to get tickets), but the performance was often on TV and those who had the book could give it to others to look through.

Now the phrase is well-known by itself, so its reference to bibleic text is not the first thing you think of, it has lots of variations but the 1st line remains the same : "Да будет свет!" - сказал монтёр... (монтёр, by no means электрик!).

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    'It was hard to buy books in the USSR' - there were plenty of books to buy in the USSR, but most of them (99%) were written by soviet authors. It was hard to buy classics and books written by foreign authors. – Artemix Feb 2 '14 at 9:35
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I'll throw another answer here. I don't remember where exactly I read it, but there was a translation of Pope's epitaph in Russian:

Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, "Let Newton be! and all was light."

I know that it was well circulated among Soviet physicists as a joke, but the God's words were translated somewhat incorrectly to Russian as:

Let be the light! And so came Newton

My guess is that "Да будет свет! - сказал электрик и перерезал провода.?" could be a non sequitur around that epitaph.

It's funny that there's a follow up verse by J.C.Squire, which was also translated to Russian and well known among physicists:

It did not last, the devil a howling, "Ho, let Einstein be!, restored the status-quo."

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this sentence is found in the first chapter of Бытие (Генесис -- Genesis), the first book of the Bible. Certainly, it means "Let there be light" in the polite King James english version of the bible. Here "Да" is an emphasis particle and "будет" is the third person of the future of the verb "быть" (to be).

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  • I can't recall anything concerning electricians in the Bible. How this combination emerged? – Artemix Jan 19 '14 at 15:47

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