To have butter on your head and a dumpling in your throat

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s Czech language course in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by a singer going by the name of Xindl X and it’s called Poslední večeře - The Last Supper.

The song is chock-full of idioms relating to food. Doubtless you can think of many in your own language. See how they compare with ours. “Mít na hlavě máslo” literally translated means to have butter on your head or, as the English say –to have egg on your face. You can also have honey around your mouth –when someone smears it there. “mazat med kolem úst” means someone is singing your praises, trying to get into your good books.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková
Moving onto side dishes – “mám v krku knedlík”– I have a dumpling in my throat – means someone is so nervous they can barely swallow. While “jsem v rejži“ or - I’m in rice - means you are in big trouble. “Horkej brambor” means hot potato – something no one wants to deal with. While “utáhnout někoho na vařený nudli”– to reel someone in on a boiled spaghetti – suggests that they are extremely easy to manipulate. Someone like that will fall for your tricks – skočí vám na špek– meaning they will jump on your bacon – don’t ask me why. And you can make them drunk on a roll “opít je rohlíkem”, another expression referring to gullibility.

If you have had a few “libová léta”– or lean years –it means you have not fared too well. “Zavařovat” means to preserve something but if you say “zavařil jsem si”– it means you have got yourself into big trouble. In which case you may have to “sbalit si svejch pár švestek”– pack up your few plums (read possessions) and leave. The main thing is “neplakat nad rozlitým mlékem”– not to cry over spilt milk.

And when you get a cake –look for the cherry on top – “třešnička na dortu”– meaning an additional bonus. And I end today on a Czech proverb which says “jak k jídlu, tak k dílu, or - as you eat, you are likely to work – meaning don’t expect a good job from people who pick at their food. This is Daniela Lazarová saying thanks for learning Czech with me and na shledanou!

The episode featured today was first broadcast on November 13, 2010.