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In this comment, obviously about a song:

Сейчас в первый раз слушаю )) Да и то, если бы не знал что они поют - в жизни бы не догадался.

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  • It means "and still", "and only", "additionally". Your quote is lacking context, a stress mark, and a comma, that's why I won't translate it. – Yellow Sky Jun 15 '14 at 22:20
  • Well, unfortunately I can't supply all those missing things because I don't know what it means... and if I did, I wouldn't be asking in the first place. Perhaps someone will actually "instruct me," which is what I thought natives actually did on this site. All I can tell you is that it's about a song (which они поют should have tipped you off). – CocoPop Jun 15 '14 at 22:39
  • Your second sentence is ambiguous, because its author didn't bother to disambiguate it. "Сейчас в первый раз слушаю" is "Now I'm listening [to it] for the first time." The meaning of the next one, "Да и то, если бы не знал, что они поют - в жизни бы не догадался." depends on where the logic stress is, on "что" or on "поют", in the first case it's "Also, if I didn't know what they are singing, I'd never guess [it right]." In the second case it's "Also, if I didn't know that they sing, I'd never guess [it right]." Actually, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. © – Yellow Sky Jun 15 '14 at 22:48
  • Much better. Thank you. He means that if he didn't already know the lyrics to the song, he would never have understood them by listening to it. My question is about "да и то" - in this context, I would instinctively say "by the way." Unless it's continuation of the first part, in which I would say "I'm listening to the song now for the first time, and even then, if I didn't know what they were singing, I'd never have been able to guess." Which variant is more fitting here? – CocoPop Jun 15 '14 at 22:55
  • "Да и то" usually adds scepticism to what follows it. Why the guy used it in that sentence is beyond my ability to read the minds of people I never met. – Yellow Sky Jun 15 '14 at 23:03
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This expression is used in two distinct cases, which look very similar in English, but convey different intents in Russian:

  1. to speculate on a situation with a highly predictable outcome (this is what @Anixx refers to in the other answer)
  2. as a kind of disjunct

Your example is the first case; the speaker is confident that if he had no knowledge beforehand [of the song content] he would likely have not guessed on his own.

I would translate it directly as:

I am hearing it now for the first time. But unless I did know what they are singing about beforehand, I would have never guessed it in my whole life.

Two sentences to illustrate the concept of speculation:

Negative

Я не могу починить этот стол без инструментов. Да и то, если у меня и были они, не смог бы.

I cannot mend this table without instruments. But even if I had them, I could not do it.

Positive

Я получил лучшую оценку в классе, потому что готовился всю ночь. Да и то, если и просто бы выспался, тоже был бы первым.

I got the best mark in my class because I had been studying the whole night. Although even if I just slept well, I would have been the first one too.

NB: This expression could be colloquially replaced with "Но даже" in this meaning

"Но даже если бы и просто выспался, был бы первым"


The second meaning is used to neglect an action

Пока сидели за чаем, он обратился к сестрам только раз, да и то с какими-то странными словами.

While [we/they] have had tea, he addressed the sisters only once, and even then with some odd words.

or express a deceitful intent or confusion:

Тогда он извлек множество смятых бумажек из кармана, но показал их не брату, а инспектору, да и то издали.

Then he extracted a pile of crumpled papers from a pocket, but had shown them not to a brother, but to an inspector, and even then from afar.

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  • Thank you for your comprehensive and intelligent explanation! It's answers like this that make this site invaluable. – CocoPop Jun 16 '14 at 14:51
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"And still"

"And even given that" - most literally

"And even then" - in this case.

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  • Thank you! So it's "and even then" in this case. Good to know. Is this colloquial in register, or fairly neutral? – CocoPop Jun 16 '14 at 13:45
  • Also, is it a fixed expression with да? Or is да an emotive particle added on in this example? – CocoPop Jun 16 '14 at 13:47
  • @CocoPop fixed. – Anixx Jun 16 '14 at 14:33
  • @CocoPop it is neutral, always appropriate. – Anixx Jun 16 '14 at 14:48
  • 1
    I do not concur on this one: "И то, если бы не знал что они поют - в жизни бы не догадался." sounds perfectly natural and carries almost exactly the same meaning (I am having difficulties expressing "Да" particle here, probably it amplifies confidence in the sentence a bit). – Eugene A Jun 17 '14 at 8:30

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