It's a dog's life


Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech - Radio Prague's Czech language series in which you can learn idioms through song lyrics. Today, we'll be listening to a song called "Život je pes" by Pavel Sedláček, which was very popular in the 1960s. The title of the song also happens to be the phrase we'll hear today.

The young man in the song complains that his beard started to grow and now he needs to shave it regularly. That's why he says that "život je pes", literally "life is a dog". There is a similar phrase in English with more or less the same meaning - "it's a dog's life". Let's listen to the phrase once again.

"Život je pes" is one of the many Czech idioms that use the word dog. Judging from their meaning, dogs' life is apparently not seen as an easy one. When you want to say that you don't feel well, you would say "cítím se pod psa", literally "I feel worse then a dog." And if the weather is really bad, "not even a dog would be driven away" - in Czech, "ani psa by nevyhnal".

Dogs appear in other idioms, such as "zakopaný pes", which translates into English as a "buried dog". When you ask: "Kde je zakopaný pes?" ("Where is the dog buried?"), you are trying to find the cause of some problem. And an increasing number of Czechs live "on a dog's book" - "na psí knížku" - which means that they live in sin. I'm sorry to say I don't know the origin of that strange expression. Finally, there is a phrase "dělat psí voči" - to make dog's eyes - in English there is a similar idiom but instead of a dog it features a doe.

If you for some reason feel "worse than a dog" or the weather is so bad that you "wouldn't drive your dog away", then stay at home and listen to SoundCheck. But for now, thanks for listening and na shledanou!