Czech by Numbers - Idioms


You are listening to Radio Prague's special Czech language course Czech by Numbers which explores numbers and their usage in everyday Czech speech. Today we'll be looking at numbers in Czech idioms and proverbs.

We have discussed some idioms before in lessons devoted to the specific numbers but today we'll add some new ones. Such as this one.

Jedna vlaštovka jaro nedělá - literally "One swallow does not make a spring", or in proper English, one swallow does not make a summer.

We move on to the number two and the saying: Dvakrát měř, jednou řež. It says "measure twice, cut just once", recommending you to consider at length before you take an important and irreversible decision. The word dvakrát, meaning twice, can be used idiomatically to mean something like "much" as in the expression Není mi dvakrát dobře - I'm not feeling all that well.

A double standard in Czech is dvojí metr - a double measuring tape, if you like, or double measure.

Moving on to three, you may come across this nonsensical saying, especially at parties where people eat lots: Ať jsme tlustý na tři prsty. "Let's be three fingers fat." Czechs use the rhyming saying to encourage themselves and others to indulge in food.

Staying with three, this saying recommends to you to be thrifty: Kdo šetří má za tři - "He who saves has as much as three others."

If you want to discuss something with somebody in private, just the two of you, it is called rozhovor mezi čtyřma očima - a dialogue between four eyes.

If you hear somebody being described as giving the impression that neumí do pěti počítat - he or she "can't count to five", it means the person is usually very smart but also very good at hiding it.

And that's it for today - we'll be back next week. Till then good-bye - na shledanou.