Against the fur


Welcome to this edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s language series in which you can learn some interesting Czech phrases through song lyrics. Today’s song is Královna, or The Queen, and it comes from the 1996 album Apogeum by the legendary Czech new-wave rock band Garáž. The phrase to listen for is “proti srsti”.

The literal meaning of the phrase “proti srsti” is “against the fur” but it really has nothing to do with the animal rights movement. The phrase points out to the fact that animals do not enjoy being petted in the direction opposite to how their fur grows. Cats, for instance, are said to prefer not to be petted from tail to head. That would go against their fur; it would be “proti srsti”.

Czechs, a nation of pet lovers, use the phrase to suggest that something is not to their liking. “Je mi to proti srsti” can be perhaps translated as to English “it goes against the grain for me”. In the song Královna, the band’s singer and lyricist Tony Ducháček, sings about how sad he is that his daughter will soon leave home. “You don’t accept anything which goes against the grain for you,” he says, complimenting her.

Another way of getting across the same or similar meaning would be to say “to není moje gusto”– “that’s not to my taste”. Czechs also use their own version of the English phrase “it’s not my cup of tea”, although they usually refer to another drink – “není to můj šálek kávy”– my cup of coffee. Or you could just say “to není nic pro mě”– “that’s not for me”.