As clear as a slap
Hello and welcome to SoundCzech, where, once a week, you can pick up a new Czech idiom or two through song lyrics. Today, we’ll be listening to a tune by the comedian, singer and banjo player Ivan Mládek, called ‘Vysoké Mýto’. ‘Vysoké Mýto’ does mean literally ‘high toll’, but the title of the song actually refers to a small town on the Bohemian-Moravian border. In the song, Ivan Mládek laments that Vysoké Mýto, population 12,000, does not have its own Empire State Building. You’ll find out why in a minute, but first, the phrase to listen out for: ‘jasné jak facka’.
‘Jasné jak facka’ is an idiom that you will sometimes hear Czechs say, but the phrase contains one word that abounds in the Czech Republic, and that it is definitely useful to know. ‘Jasný’ means ‘clear’ and is used in all number of different forms. Perhaps the most frequent phrase you’ll hear containing the word is ‘je mi to jasné’, literally ‘it is clear to me’, and more idiomatically ‘that’s clear’ or ‘of course’. ‘Of course’ can also be said in Czech, quite simply as ‘jasně’. Before we go on to clarify a few more uses of the word ‘jasný’ have another listen:
So, ‘jasný’ means ‘clear’, and the corresponding verb – ‘to clear up’, if you will - is ‘vyjasnit’. ‘Vyjasnit’ can be used in several ways, much as in English. First, the weather can clear up (‘vyjasní se’), or a mystery can be cleared up (‘záhada se vyjasní’). And then ‘vyjasnit’ can also mean to clarify, so ‘vyjasnit svou pozici’ would translate as ‘to clarify one’s position’.
And one last usage of the word ‘jasný’ quickly before I go: if you want to say in Czech that something came ‘out of the blue’, then you say it came ‘zčistajasna’, literally ‘from the clean clear’. It was upon writing this SoundCzech that I realized something about these phrases that I hadn’t thought of before. They are probably both linked in that they both seem to refer to the sky or the heavens without expressly saying so. We already talked about how ‘jasný’ can refer both to the clouds clearing up and to a mystery being cleared up.
So this SoundCzech has cleared something up for me, at least, I hope it has for you too. Na shledanou – goodbye!