I will wager my head

Má to za pár

You’re listening to SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s weekly programme in which you can learn Czech idioms with the help of songs. Today we’ll be listening to a song from the 1960s called “To všechno odnes čas“ or “Time took it all away” sung by the legendary Czech singer Waldemar Matuška. Today’s featured phrase is “hlavu za to dám“.

The song is about a man who was long ago forced to become a sailor but now he is back from the high seas and has married a beautiful girl from a ranch. Waldemar Matuška sings that “to všechno odnes čas“, “time took all that away” and adds “hlavu za to dám, že nevrátí se nikdy k nám” - he will bet his life or wager his head that whatever time took away won’t ever come back. The word “čas” means “time”, “hlava” is “head”.

You may remember hearing a similar expression on this programme some time ago: “krk za to dám”– “I will wager my neck”. It means the same as “hlavu za to dám”– I am so certain that I am right that I am willing to put my own life on the line about it. Another way of expressing your certainty about something is to say “vsadím boty“– “I’ll bet my shoes“, or “vsadím kalhoty“– “I’ll wager my trousers“. You can even say „ať se propadnu“– “may I fall through the floor” if I’m mistaken. But back to our phrase “hlavu za to dám”.

Please note that in the song Waldemar Matuška uses colloquial Czech. So rather than saying “to všechno odnesl čas” he uses the Central Bohemian dialect “to všechno vodnes čas”. He drops the “l” in the past tense of the verb “odnést”– “to carry away” and inserts a “v” at the beginning changing “odnesl” into “vodnes”. The “v” at the beginning of the word is used in colloquial Czech to prevent a glottal stop.

That’s all for today’s lesson. Na shledanou.