Clothes make a man


You're listening 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 from the 1930s by the comedians and playwrights Jan Werich and Jiří Voskovec, with music by Jaroslav Ježek. It is called "Šaty dělaj člověka" which incidentally, is the phrase we are going to learn today.

"It is an age-old truth that clothes make a man," the singers say, "and whoever is waiting for good luck in rags, waits in vain." The word "šaty" is a plural, just like the English word clothes, and means either a woman's dress or clothes in general. "Dělaj" is a shortened version of the third person plural of the verb "dělat" - to do or to make. The correct form is "dělají" but you will hardly ever hear that spoken in most parts of the country. And finally, "člověk" is a human being or person. So once again the whole phrase is "šaty dělaj člověka".

As the saying goes "šaty dělaj člověka". There is another popular phrase using the word "šaty" and that is "císařovy nové šaty" or the Emperor's new clothes from the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Of course, the emperor is naked - "císař pán je nahý", literally the lord Emperor is naked. That's just too bad for him because as we know, "šaty dělaj člověka". Have another listen.

Today we have learnt the phrase "šaty dělají člověka" or in the colloquial form "šaty dělaj člověka" - clothes make a man. Unless, of course, they are "císařovy nové šaty" - the Emperor's new clothes.

Thanks for listening today and as always, you can find this edition as well as all the previous ones on our website And finally, a few more bars of "Šaty dělaj člověka" by the legendary trio Jan Werich, Jiří Voskovec and Jaroslav Ježek.