Get into the woods


Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, and a new set of Czech idioms imparted through song. Today’s phrases are none too polite, but could come in handy if you find yourself being pestered on a trip to the Czech Republic. Here’s hoping that you never have to use them but, still, they could be good to know. The source of today’s choice phrases is a song by Czech blues singer Ivan Hlas called ‘Na kolena’ (in English ‘On your knees’). And the phrase to listen out for comes in the very first line – ‘táhněte do háje’:

‘Táhněte do háje’ means literally something like ‘get into the woods’, but no Czech would think for one second about its literal meaning, if you hear ‘táhněte do háje’ someone is, quite simply, telling you to ‘shove off’ or ‘go away’. ‘Táhněte do háje’ or ‘běžte do háje’ (which means literally ‘run into the woods’) is not the rudest way of saying ‘go away’, but nor is it the most polite. More neutral might be something like ‘jděte pryč’, which translates word for word as ‘go away’. Listen to the antisocial Ivan Hlas send the people around him packing one more time, and listen to what he says after ‘táhněte do háje’ – ‘všichni pryč’, he continues, which means literally ‘all of you, away’:

Perhaps slightly ruder than ‘táhněte do háje’ is the phrase ‘jděte do Prčic’. Prčice is actually a village in central Bohemia, and so when you say to someone ‘jděte do Prčic’, you are in theory ordering them to ‘go to Prčice’, but Prčice actually sounds a bit like an extremely rude Czech word which I am certainly not going to broadcast here. So, saying ‘jděte do Prčic’ in Czech is like saying ‘sugar’ in English, it is a way of narrowly avoiding saying something much, much worse. Incidentally, due to the popularity of sending people to Prčice, an annual pilgrimage from Prague to the hallowed central Bohemian village started up in this country in the 1960s. When the 44th Praha – Prčice walk took place this May, nearly 17,000 Czechs made the trek. Around 400 of these people, as it happens, set out from the Prague district of Háje.

But enough vulgarisms for today. As I said, you can use these phrases without being downright foul-mouthed, and there is a word hovering around in the background to all of this which I would be as rude as a ‘dlaždič’ (‘a roadman’) if I told you. So instead of that, I’m going to go ‘pryč’. Na shledanou!