Although the literal translation of To bude oříšek is That will be a little nut, the meaning is equivalent to That’s a tough nut to crack. This is an expression that both languages have in common. Is it because early Englishmen and early Czechs both had difficulties opening nuts?
Some words are difficult to analyse in Czech. For example, let’s look at pomláska, a woven wood whip decorated with ribbons used to smack women on the bottom the day after Easter. When a young man successfully smacks a girl, she gives him eggs or alcohol. All of this originated in pre-Roman times as part of the Lupercalia fertility festivals. The tradition lives on, (though no one here seems to have the foggiest idea what Lupercalia is), and I fully intend to smack some female bottoms myself this Easter. The question is how this word, pomláska, came about. The prefix „po“ probably means (in this case) „down“, as in striking downwards with your lash. It’s the rest of the word that is troublesome. Does it come from the verb Mlatit (defined in my dictionary as what police officers do to youngsters who listen to techno music), or does it perhaps come from Mlaskat (the sound you make with your lips after eating granny’s yummy soup)? Certainly it can’t be derived from Laska, which afterall is just love. At any rate, I hope the intelligent, well-read, and surprisingly attractive readers of slovodne can let me know. Happy Easter!
P.S. Pro případné kverulanty poukazujeme na liberalizaci ve věci S a Z. Saplať pámbu:-)
Passive agreement, in the form of a musical double „yeah“. The „no“ is short for „ano“, and the „jo“ is the colloquially spoken (but rarely written) „yeah“. This term is especially useful when in the pub enjoying a beer, and being addressed by a bore. One may simply nod at one’s beer, and hum out „no jo“ to fill in the appropriate gap in your drinking fellow’s diatribe, anectdote, or confession. This allows the speaker to appear attentive and sympathetic, without active listening.
A dnes, mimořádně, dvě Fredotéky. Jedna běžná a jedna (z)dramatizovaná.
Many people have complimented slovo dne for its extraordinary accurate and factual examination of historical linguistic questions. Our quite popular posting on the subject of the history of Czech beer, for example, was warmly received by the highest authorities in the land as the definitive account of this controversial topic. So it is with great pleasure that we report our newest discovery. After long and diligent research by our crack team of scientists, semanticians, and historians, we have discovered the historo-linguistic roots of the popular term, „hokej“.
Hokej was invented by the Hussites in the bitterly cold winter of 1425 on the outskirts of their military camp at the small, now utterly forgotten town of Kned. Kned, as historians agree, was surrounded by ice at this time. Only the well-off leaders of the Hussite bands of warriors were allowed near the warmth of the food fires. The starving and increasingly desperate masses of devout peasants had to wait outside on the hard ice. They amused themselves while waiting by carving paddles in anticipation of the spring thaw when they could row their canoes again.
Food quickly ran low. The commanders became concerned, fearing starvation and a mutiny. A new food source must be found. After trying out various concoctions, cooking dirt, feathers, and rocks, they chanced on an important discovery. If you wad up bread dough and then boil it in water, you get something that can just barely be eaten. In honor of the place where they camped, they named this new „food“ knedliky.
The first game of hokej broke out when the Hussite commanders tossed a piece of knedliky, hard as a rock, out onto the ice where the stick weilding peasants awaited in hunger. Later refinements included putting a net at each end of the ice. If one group of Hussites could put their piece of knedliky into the other side’s net, they would win points which they could redeem at a Sazka office or use to win lucrative endorsement contracts. Eventually referees were added to oversee the fighting and make sure that each group wore different colors while out on the ice. The tradition became so strong that eventually the Czech lands were famous throughout the world for their skill in this new sport. Up to this day Czechs are world famous for their hokej games, and their knedliky.
Learning Czech is dangerous. It can be complicated, confusing, and lead to misunderstandings. An example of this is baking. This activity, cooking bread and pastries in a heated box, isn’t intrinsically difficult. In fact, I learned the basics of „peceni“ when I was a youngster. Unfortunately, where I live there is no stove. So I am „bez peceni“. Since my pronunciation is often poor, this comes out as „bezpecny“, which is derived from „pece“ or care. So instead of telling everyone I was without an oven, I told them I was without a care. This was dangerous because they immediately assumed that I am wealthy, happy, and able to grant fabulous wishes. I soon found myself besieged with requests for cash. This dangerous „nebezpeci“ circumstance has forced me to be much more careful (peclivy) with my pronunciation. I cafefully (peclive) speak clearly and slowly to all my friends. Now they think I’m an idiot, (blbec), but at least they know I don’t have any money.
Is it better to be perfect or effective? When learning a language, it is often acceptable to make minor mistakes so long as you are understood. In this case, it is best to be effective rather than attempting to be perfect. Czechs often don’t understand this, perhaps terrorized by an outmoded educational system heavy on theory, memorization, and testing. They’ll freeze up and remain silent rather than risk making an error. I’m the opposite. I talk away, unconcerned that all around me regard me as a fool for my myriad mistakes — I figure the endings are so tough, I may as well just ignore them as everyone will figure out my meaning eventually. Too bad then that in at least one case the ending makes all the difference. Dokonalý is perfect. Dokonavý is effective. I had mistakenly assumed that they were the same word with some stupid ending problem (like most Czech words) that I needn’t worry about. Now I know that dokonavý has nothing to do with dokonalý, and my effectiveness is far from perfect.
The most common word in spoken Czech, especially amongst younger males. It’s literal meaning, „you ox“, is irrelevant. It’s usage is somewhat akin to „dude“ in Southern Californian slang. Depending on its pronunciation, stress, and intonation, „vole“ can be a threat, praise, express astonishment or disgust. It’s flexibility is limited only by the speaker’s linguistic creativity. Sadly, it is used by the less linguistically skilled as mere filler.
Po čase opět zvukové doplnění z Fredotéky
YoYo Band sang v hospodě je chytro about how very clever not only the denizens of pubs may be, but the characteristic of cleverness being adapted by the pub itself. This is linguistic balderdash, but sociological genius. Masculine animate nouns can take the adjective chytrý and feminine nouns take the adjective chytrá. For an inanimate or neuter noun to take such an adjective is, clearly impossible. Still, when you hear the line
v hospodě je chytro,
choděj tam jen chytrý hlavy,
v hospodě je chytro,
samej doktor věd
it makes perfect sense. In fact, most Czech linguists object more to the „Pragified“ (pražština) endings of the words, „choděj“ and „samej“.
Special thanks (and apologies) to guest professor Vladimir Sklenar…
Blah is an honorable and ancient word dating back a hundred years, when it
was first uttered by former President Grover Cleveland on this day in 1906. Asked what he would say that early spring evening at a formal banquet in honor of the reknown flautist Dame Edna Thistlebottom, Grover replied, blah, blah, blah. This wonderfully useful and expressive term has been Czechified into the melifluous blabol, which is furthermore transformed into a verb. So today, in honor of the dearly missed President Cleveland, I have again blabolil for slovodne. I like to blabolit, and you may all be assured of my continued blaboly in the future.
If Czech were more closely related to English, this might seem to be the plural for parks. Instead, this actually means two (or more) hot dogs. One hot dog is a párek, and the párek v rohlíku is one of these sausages inserted lengthwise into a minature french roll.
Klikněte na šipku a poslouchejte Fredovu Fredotéku 🙂