Welcome to this week’s edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s Czech language series in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by Czech rock musician Vladimír Mišík and is called Velikej Hever. The phrase to look out for is the somewhat incongruous mít prd, which means to have nothing, or to have little to show for something (such as one’s efforts) or even to have a miserable sum on your bank account.
The funny thing is that in Czech, prd of course means a fart, and prdnout means, well, to pass wind. But if you say mám prd, it means having entirely different – having nothing much. You might say mohl jsem mít všechno, I could have had it all, ale nakonec mám prd, but in the end I’ve got nothing (or too little to bear mentioning). How much did you win in the lottery? Vyhrál jsem prd– I won nothing or nothing much.
Important to note, the expression does not imply so much that one is poor as that something planned didn’t pay off, perhaps a gamble, a risk taken, that saw no real results, maybe an ill-fated project at work that didn’t come to fruition, or failed plans for the summer, or a failure to win on poker night. A more polite way of expressing similar failure might be nevyhrál jsem, nic s toho nebude, or nevyšlo to: I lost, or nothing will come out of it, or it didn’t work out.
If you bluff in cards, for example, and then are forced to reveal your hand by an opponent who suspected you were putting on an act, you might grumble nemám nic, mám prd. I’ve got zilch, I’ve got doodley-squat.
Of course, there are plenty of things you might have, which no one suspected: if we stick to the card game example, můžeš mít eso v rukávu– you can have an ace up your sleeve. Or, if it looks like your chances are good at winning a hand, you could say ma naděj na úspěch– he’s got a chance of succeeding. Besides leisure, another area where it’s often make or break, is of course sport – where there is often a fine line between success… and failure. Mohl mít všecho, ale nemá nic. He could have had it all, but he has nothing.
Lots of people use the slang expression in a self-derogatory way, to express that things “aren’t great”, but it’s important to point out it’s a far cry from being totally broke and in real trouble. If someone, for example, was in real financial straits, you’d probably say something quite different: má hluboko do kapsy– which means it’s a long way into his pocket, he’s hard up, not to be confused with what deep pockets mean in English. Another way of saying it would be to say the somewhat vulgar má holý zadek– he’s got a bare bum (he’s so poor), he hasn’t got two pennies to rub together. Having prd is not quite as dire, even if it’s nothing to write home about.