Frost under your nails


Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s Czech language series in which you can learn idioms through song lyrics. For the past few weeks, the Czech Republic has been in the grip of freezing weather with temperatures only recently rising above zero. I guess it’s high time to check out a few idioms connected with the wintertime. We’ll be listening to a song with a very fitting title indeed – Zima, or winter:

In the first two lines of the song, the singer Jiří Schelinger explains that Madam Winter or paní Zima has arrived a bit earlier this year, with “jíní” or frost in her hair and “sníh” or snow under her feet. As a result, everybody starts to feel really cold. Note that Czechs use the same word for winter and for being cold. “Je mi zima” means I am cold, whereas “je zima” means it is winter. Have another listen:

In the following lines, the singer continues with his description of the freezing weather. It is so cold, he says, that frost gets behind his nails – “mráz za nehty leze”, and it chills - “zebe” even though he is wearing five sweaters. Another common way of expressing that it is freezing cold is the idiom “mrzne až praští”. It means that the weather is so cold that everything feels like cracking. There is also a phrase “je zima jako v Rusku” which simply means “it is as cold as in Russia”.

As the singer wanders the streets, waiting to meet for his lover, an icicle or “rampouch” forms on his nose and the tears in his eyes turn into ice drops. If she doesn’t come soon, he himself might soon be “zmrzlý jako rampouch”, frozen as an icicle. We also use the phrase “zmrzlý až na kost”, which is an equivalent of the English phrase “cold to the bones”. And I am afraid that is all we have time for today. Thank you for listening and nashledanou in some warmer season.