Life is old hat


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 "Léta dozrávání" or "Growing up" by the legendary duo Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr. Today's featured phrase is "obnošená vesta".

The song is about a world-weary young man who is bored with life and thinks he has seen it all. Jiří Suchý sings "život je pro mě obnošená vesta" which literally translates as "life for me is a worn-out vest or waist-coat". The English counterpart to that phrase would be "old hat". "Život" means life, related to the verb "žít" - "to live". The word "vesta" means simply "vest" or "waist-coat" and the adjective "obnošená" means "worn, worn-out" from the verb "nosit" - to carry or to wear.

Life is old hat for me, I am rightly complaining about its tedium, says Jiří Suchý in the song - "život je pro mě obnošená vesta". The phrase is a variation of a related idiom "stará vesta", "an old vest/waist-coat" which is maybe more common in Czech. A similar saying is "stará" or "obehraná písnička" - an old song or one that has been played too many times to be interesting anymore. The phrase is often used in connection with promises, proclamations or statements repeated too often to be trustworthy any more.

Today we have learnt the phrases "obnošená vesta, stará vesta, stará písnička and obehraná písnička" - all referring to something old, tired and no longer interesting. I hope today's featured song "Léta dozrávání" has not become "obehraná písnička" for you by now. Thanks for listening and if you'd like to practice today's phrases, you can find this episode as well as all our previous lessons on Radio Prague's website Na shledanou.