Even though luck has turned its back on us

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Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s Czech language course in which you can learn new expressions with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is sung by the famous Czech chanson singer Hana Hegerová and is called Lásko má – My love. And the phrase to listen out for is “Ač se štěstí točí zády k nám”.

“Ač se štěstí točí zády k nám” litrally means “even though luck has turned its back on us”. Štěstí is the Czech word for luck. But unlike in English we do not say good luck and bad luck. Štěstí only ever means good luck or alternately it can also mean happiness. If you are going to say bad luck – you only need one word - smůla.

The most frequent use of the word štěstí - is when you are wishing someone luck. You will often hear people say “hodně štěstí” or “lots of luck” to someone when they are off to an important job interview. You can also wish newly-weds “hodně štěstí” in which case you are wishing them years of happiness rather than good luck on a given occasion. But if you have a friend in the acting business you should remember never to say hodně štěstí– because actors are extremely superstitious and see that as the kiss of death. The proper thing to say is “zlom vaz”– which means “break your back” – the Czech equivalent of “break a leg”.

In this case Hana Hegerová is singing about luck having turned its back - and if you want to say about someone that he has bad luck all the time you can say – “on je smolař” (derived from the word smůla or bad luck) which means he’s a person who attracts bad luck. On the other hand if you tend to have good fortune on your side then you could be described as being “dítě štěstěny”– “a child of good-fortune”. I certainly hope you are the latter and wish you great good luck and much happiness in the coming year. Hodně štěstí a naschledanou.