I am racking my brains in vain


Hello and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, our language series in which you can learn Czech expressions with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by the country’s leading chanson singer Hana Hegerová and it is called Tak abyste to věděla – Just so you know. The phrase to listen out for is Marně si hlavu lamu.

“Marně si hlavu lámu” is the Czech equivalent of “I am racking my brains in vain” although literally it would translate as “breaking one’s head in vain”. “Hlava” is the Czech word for head and is naturally used in connection with problems that plague one. “Dělat si z něčeho hlavu”– literall translates as “to make a head of something” and means to let oneself be upset by a problem. If you want to say don’t let it bother you in Czech – you say “nedělej si z toho hlavu” or “don’t make a head of it”. If you are bothered by something you can say “mám z toho velkou hlavu” in other words “this problem is giving me a big head”.

On the other hand, if you think a problem is not worth your attention you can throw it over your head –or behind your head - “hodˇ to za hlavu” which is the Czech way of saying “forget about it”. In this connection you may also hear the phrase “nech to koňovi, ma větší hlavu”–“leave that problem to the horse – his head is bigger”. The word “brainteaser” in Czech is also expressed with the word “head” rather than “brain” – “hlavolam” literally means “head-breaker”. And if you want to say that someone is really smart you can say “má otevřenou hlavu”– “he has an open head” – to admit information presumably.

I hope that your problems are not “head–breaking” and that today’s Czech lesson has not given you “a big head”. This is DL saying thanks for learning Czech with me and nashledanou.