Like a knife slicing through butter


Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – RPs Czech language course in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is called Joshua - a spiritual sung by the group Sprituál Kvintet and the phrase to listen out for is jako když máslem projde nůž.

Jako když máslem projde nůž is the exact Czech equivalent of the English expression “like a knife slicing through butter”, meaning that something is done effortlessly. In this case the reference is to Joshua leading his people across the river Jordan – as easily as a knife slicing through butter. However the expression that you are far more likely to hear Czechs use is “půjde to jako po másle”– it is like going over butter – in other words the way will be well greased. Czechs also say “půjde to raz, dva, tři”– it is as easy as one two three. It is as easy as pie.

Or, to give you a completely different expression that has no parallel in English “jde to jedna báseň” or “it is coming along like a poem” meaning it is coming along beautifully – as beautifully as a poem. You can also say “je to brnkačka” brnkat meaning to strum a guitar. This suggests that you can do whatever it is as easily as strumming a guitar. Or something you could do with your eyes closed “se zavřenýma očima”. A rather more bizarre way of putting it is to say you can do it “levou zadní” with you left foot behind your back.

Of course, there are times when things are not so smooth. If something is an uphill struggle you can say “je to dřina”, or “jde to od devíti k pěti” – it is going from nine to five – meaning you are sliding back. A particularly quaint expression is “jde mi to jako když se pes pase”– you might as well ask a dog to eat grass. Well and that’s all we have time for today - I hope everything goes “as smooth as butter” for you. This is Daniela Lazarova saying thanks for learning Czech with me and nashledanou!