Animals in the spotlight
Welcome to a fresh edition of SoundCzech in which you can learn Czech phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is a 1970’s Semafor Theatre hit called Máme radi zvířata and the singer is Jitka Molavcová. The word to listen out for is “zvířata”.
For a start, the more kindly or benevolent expressions involving animals relate to things whacky, crazy, improbable or untrue. The word “kravina” stems from “kráva” or cow. “To je kravina” is used about something that we believe to be untrue. The same expression with the word “Konina” stemming from kun or horse means something frivolous, children’s antics or the like. “Dělat koniny” is similar to the English expression “to horse around”. On the other hand “ptákovina” stemming from “pták” or bird is something whacky.
As you can imagine animal names are rarely used in a positive light. The only two that come to mind are “lišák” meaning ‘foxy” (even that has a negative connotation) and “včelička” meaning bee that refers to being busy as a bee. Any other animal name you may get called is not likely to be nice. The ones you will hear bandied around most frequently are “vole” and “krávo”– the first “vůl” means ox and is partly used in the sense of idiot, jerk or fool but has over time become a sort of filler word with which men pepper their speak when speaking to pals. The exclamation “Ty vole” meaning you ox is also used to express surprise, amazement or admiration.
“Ty krávo” means you cow and is one of the most common animal insults targeted at women. Another expression you may hear is “Ty slepice” meaning you hen which is most often used about a stupid, limited woman. “Ty hovado” (hovado meaning cattle) is used to suggest someone is an animal, crude and unrefined. On the other hand bejk (the slang expression for býk) meaning bull is often said in a complementary way about men who score with women.
Other animal expressions you may come across in Czech are “had” or snake where the meaning is obvious, “bručoun” meaning “grumpy bear” or “prase” meaning pig which again requires little explanation. “Slon v porcelánu” means elephant in a china shop and “straka” or magpie is often used to denote a thieving person. All round, not the best reference for the animal world.