Don't put out a fire that's not burning you

You're listening to SoundCzech - Radio Prague's new Czech language series in which you'll learn useful phrases through song lyrics. Today we'll be listening to a popular 1960s song "Malé kotě" or "Small Kitten" by Jiri Suchy and Jiri Slitr, of the famous Semafor Theatre. The singer is Eva Pilarova.

You may have guessed that today's phrase is: "Nehas, co tě nepálí."

The saying "nehas, co tě nepálí" literally translates as "don't put out a fire that isn't burning you". The verb "hasit" means "to extinguish" (by the way, hasiči are fire-fighters) and "pálit" means to burn. The meaning of the idiom is, basically, "mind your own business", keep a low profile and don't intervene in conflicts which don't concern you. Which might be a good thing but then again, I'm sure we can all think of situations where it is quite appropriate to help put out fires which are not burning us, so to speak. Here's the phrase for you again...

If you're wondering what the rest of the lyrics mean, well, Eva Pilarova is singing about a kitten sleeping in a shoe, left there by its owners after work. The lyrics don't really mean much, they are simply a playful combination of images. But back to our phrase, "nehas, co tě nepálí": you can sometimes come across its clauses in reversed order, that is "co tě nepálí, nehas". But it means exactly the same thing. Have another listen:

And that's it for today's edition of SoundCzech. We'll be back next week with a new expression and a new Czech song. Until then, you can practice today's idiom by listening back to this lesson on our website - but you don't need to follow the advice the singer is giving you. Good bye!