Google Translate successfully translated it to English. However I still don't understand the meaning of it (Crash, beats the clock but only if it has a stack).

I thought it might be a famous saying but Google search results given me nothing useful.

  • 2
    Google translate most certainly does not translate it "successfully". The English is complete gibberish. – Lambie Nov 30 '18 at 17:10
  • Please tell us where you saw this. It is not a well-known saying. – Lambie Nov 30 '18 at 17:18

I hadn't seen this expression before, but I'd translate it differently (check below for a better option), probably something like:

The clock does strike, but only when a battery is inserted.

Which seems to mean that

"It should work, but only if certain conditions are fulfilled."

But, in light of Jacinto's answer and as can be found, e.g., here, this sentence is more likely to be a whimsical reply, in which case a better translation would be:

To strike?! It is the clock that strikes, but only if it has a battery.

  • You translation definitely and massivelly improves on Google's, but I think it misses the point. I think the sentence is just a whimsical reply to counter something that was said before. – Jacinto Nov 25 '18 at 16:59
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    I think if it was a serious conversation about whether the clock strikes, as in "O relógio não bate as horas?" the reply would be "Bater, o relógio bate, mas..." not "Bater, bate o relógio, mas..." – Jacinto Nov 25 '18 at 17:09
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    @Jacinto Interesting possibility, I hope the OP clarifies with more context so that we know for sure what's going on in this specific case. If your impression is correct, then my guess it's a pt-PT text, not pt-BR. – stafusa Nov 25 '18 at 18:22
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    @Jacinto I think you're probably right - and it's possibly based on a known saying in European Portuguese, for you can find online (e.g., here) the saying "bater, bate o relógio horas", with a meaning similar to the one you give in your answer. – stafusa Nov 25 '18 at 18:28
  • Well, how about "Estou pensando", "(não pense), a pensar morreu um burro!". I think you say this in Brazil too; and again you have the unusual Verb + Subject, i – Jacinto Nov 25 '18 at 18:28

Google Translate made a mess of it. I agree with Stafusa’s translation (see the other answer), but I think we get the point across better if we translate it freely as::

To strike?! It is the clock that strikes, but only if it has a battery.


To strike?! Striking is something a clock does, but only if it has a battery.

This is no idiom that I know of, but this structure is typical of sentences that one says, at least in Portugal, to counter or dismiss an idea presented before. And you can find a rather similar sentence used precisely for that effect on the web (Stafusa, the author of the other answer, found them; see comments to his answer). Just three instances though (this, this, and this): they mention the idea of beating (also “bater”) a child or a woman, and go on to say

“Bater, bate o relógio as horas” or ‘to strike! It is Clocks that strikes’.

The implication is you should not bater (“beat”) a child or a woman, or anyone for that matter; because only clocks should bater (“strike”). This is of course a whimsical way to make your point, as clocks striking have nothing to do with beating someone.

Without context I cannot be sure your sentence was used to make the same point, but it too sounds like a whimsical reply to me, and it would fit in the following example, which I made up before coming across the “bater, bate o relógio as horas” (note that bater can mean both ‘to knock’ (at a door) or (of a clock) ‘to strike’ (the time):

Ana: Não sabes bater (à porta) antes de entrar. [Can't you knock before coming in; bater = ‘to knock’ here.]

Bob: Bater, bate o relógio, mas só se tiver pilha.

Of course, clocks striking the time have nothing to do with knocking at doors, and Bob’s reply is just a whimsical way of dismissing what Ana said. It’s like saying, “Bater (‘to strike’) is for clocks; I don't bater (‘knock’)”. The first word in Bob's reply, the loose infinitive bater, just recovers and focuses attention on the key idea in what Ana said, before he goes on to counter it.

  • We only say that a clock strikes one [a time], the clock strikes three. And that refers to clocks like large clocks on public buildings. Though it can also refer to a grandfather clock, for instance. Clocks that use batteries don't usually strike (in English). – Lambie Nov 30 '18 at 17:13
  • @Lambie, quite right. It's the same in Portuguese: we don't expect "bater as horas" from a battery-powered clock. But that's what they said in Portuguese, so I rendered it in English. – Jacinto Dec 2 '18 at 16:58
  • Then, you have to say "strike (on) the hour" which is old fashioned.... – Lambie Dec 2 '18 at 17:14
  • @Lambie, I see. I actually checked. "Strike the time" is uncommon but exists. A common question in quizzes is "what time did the clock strike in Hickory dickory dock." But on second thoughts, the best translation for "o relógio bate as horas" is simply "the clock strikes"; I guess I was too much influenced by the Portuguese, where "o relógio bate" sounds weird. – Jacinto Dec 2 '18 at 17:29
  • The clock strikes [some o'clock]. The clocks strikes if it has a battery does not convey the povo fala aspect here. This is clearly fala do povo. The person is making joke with a bad pun: Bater ôvos, bate, se for cozinheira conveys the same idea. I think it has to be taken with a grain of salt. – Lambie Dec 2 '18 at 17:45

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