On “fake” innocence


Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s language course where you can learn new words and expressions through song lyrics. Today’s song is by singer/guitarist Petr Bende, the runner-up in the country’s second edition of Pop Idol (known in Czech as Česko hledá superstar). The song is called Nevinnost and the text to look out for is “nevinnost zkoušíš hrát”.

“Nevinnost” means innocence and that is what this song is all about. The singer addresses a second person – perhaps a loved one or a former love interest (?) – accusing them of faking innocence and playing something they’re not: nevinnost zkoušíš hrát. You’re trying to pretend you’re innocent, or you’re faking innocence. In the next line he adds divadlo bez herců nemám rád– I don’t like theatre without actors, alluding to a stage empty of emotions.

By comparison, someone who pretends they are something MORE than they really are would be described as hraje si na něco co není. He or she is pretending to be something they are not.

Hrát divadlo or dělat divadlo can also mean putting on a performance of a different kind: a child might put on a show of hysterics or sulk, in which case his parents might scold him by saying přestaň s tím divadlem! In other words stop with the antics, stop being theatrical. That is a reprimand heard fairly often!

The fake performance in Petr Bende’s song is more grown-up and more subtle, about having been wounded by someone who presumably failed to take responsibility for their actions.

The details we can only guess – but this much is clear: innocence is fleeting. Having done a bad deed you might pretend to be nevinnost sama– innocence itself. Or you might be a real neviňátko - a diminutive, meaning something like poor little ms (or I suppose mr) innocent. Čistá nevinnost– pure innocence – is a rare thing and hard to find. That is something the singer, at least in this song, seems to sincerely regret.