Castles in the air


Welcome to SoundCzech - Radio Prague's own Czech language series in which you'll learn useful phrases through song lyrics. Today we'll hear a song by one of the most popular Czech bands at the moment, Divokej Bill. The song is called "Malování" or "Painting" and uses more than one idiom.

In this clip you might have caught two idioms. One of them is "vzdušné zámky" - or "castles in the air", literally "air castles", meaning the same as in English - daydreams; thinking or dreaming about something unattainable. The singer does not speak about building castles in the air but rather painting them - malování - let's say it is a bit of a mixed metaphor.

The other phrase you could hear is "mít na kahánku" which means "to be on one's last legs, to be close to death or extinction. A literal translation of the idiom is "to have on a burner" - "kahánek" meaning a small burner, and it makes as little sense to me as it probably does to you. The singer uses the second person singular: "máš na kahánku" that is "you are on your last legs, your life is hanging by a thread."

Let's listen once again...

Please don't ask me what the rest of the lyrics mean - I can only guess it's about a depressed young individual in a spiritual crisis. But the important thing is that we can learn a couple of Czech idioms "vzdušné zámky" and "mít na kahánku".

And that's it for this week's edition of SoundCzech with a double serving of Czech idioms. Until next week you can practice today's phrases by listening back on our website - Finally, a few bars of "Malování" by Divokej Bill. Thanks for listening and bye-bye.