Dragging your feet


Hello and welcome to this edition of SoundCzech, our language series which gives you a chance to learn interesting Czech phrases through song lyrics. Today, we’ll hear the song Muzeum by the star singer-songwriter Jaromír Nohavica. It was one of the tracks on his 1993 album, Mikymauzoleum. The phrase to listen for is “noha nohu mine”.

The usual form of the phrase is “jít co noha nohu mine”. It literally means “walk as one foot passes the other”; in English, you would probably say to drag your feet. In this song, the complete verse says “chodí se tam jen tak co noha nohu mine”– you walk around there dragging your feet”. Despite the obvious fact that you feet are passing each other even when you’re running, the phrase is only used to indicate a slow, even crawling motion.

In his song Muzeum, Jaromír Nohavica, a native of Ostrava, in northern Moravia, describes the hardships and daily toil of workers in Ostrava’s mines and factories. Every day, he says, you take the 5:35 tram seven stops to work, and on Sunday, you can go to the museum, to check the showcase they have ready for you. In the museum, you walk around very slowly, co noha nohu mine, so that you can see properly how life flies, and how vain human existence is.

To get across the same meaning, to walk very slowly, you might use one of the Czech verbs “šourat se”, “ploužit se” or even “loudat se”; the latter is however used when the person is wandering around aimlessly or even reluctantly. One Czech phrase uses a peculiar metaphor – “jít jako na funus”– to walk as if you were going to a funeral; yet another even says “táhnout se jako smrad”– literally to moves as slows as a bad smell or stench.