Cat and Mouse

Photo: 4028mdk09, CC BY 3.0 Unported

Hello and welcome to a new edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s Czech language course in which you can learn Czech phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today we will be listening to the song “Jaký to je” or “How it is” sung by Ewa Farna. The words to listen out for are šedá myš - a grey mouse.

Photo: 4028mdk09,  CC BY 3.0 Unported
The term šedá myš is used to describe someone who does not attract a lot of attention and is generally inconspicuous – je nenápadný. Ewa Farna sings that this sort of person is colorful on the inside, even though they appear to be black and white on the surface. “Uvnitř jsi barevná a navrch černobílá.”

Mice are commonly used in Czech expressions. Just as in English, you can be a poor as a church mouse - chudý jak kostelní myš - or as quiet as a mouse - tichý jako myška. The word myška is the same as myš (mouse) but it has a cuter connotation. Ani myš by neproklouzla means that not even a mouse could get through.

To play cat and mouse is - hrát si jako kočka s myší. Když kocour není doma myši mají pré is similar to the English expression when the cat’s away the mice will play. Literally translated this means that when the tomcat is not home, the mice have precedence.

If someone is drenched in sweat, they can say jsem zpocený jak myš– I am as sweaty as a mouse. Mokrý jak myš is to be as wet as a mouse. These expressions probably come from the assumption that mice are always sweaty because they are running away from cats.

When farmers plow their fields to prepare them for their next crops, they may surprise an unfortunate mouse who has dug its burrow in their field. That is why when someone is surprised, it is said that they look like a plowed-up mouse - kouká jako vyoraná myš.