Luck in the game, bad luck in love!


It's time for another edition of SoundCzech and this time with the Czech Republic's king of pop - Karel Gott. Today, we'll be hearing a song called "V kartách já smůlu mám," which translates into: "I have bad luck in cards". The sentence continues with the words: "that must mean I won't have bad luck in love". Now, there is an equivalent in various other languages and there may be one in English but if it does exist, it's certainly not as popular as in Czech.

The phrase Karel Gott is referring to: "štěstí v kartách, neštěstí v lásce" or "luck in cards, bad luck in love" comes from another more general phrase: "štěstí ve hře, neštěstí v lásce", which means: "luck in the game, bad luck in love". It's a saying that Czechs use a lot when they are playing a game like cards, for example. When someone is winning, the others say he'll have bad luck in love. When someone is losing, they say that the person is better off because he'll be lucky in love - "neštěstí ve hře, štěstí v lásce"...

The terms "luck" and "bad luck" translate into "štěstí" and "neštěstí". But in addition to that, "bad luck" also has an entirely different word in Czech: "smůla". The most common way of saying "to be unlucky" or "to have bad luck" is "mít smůlu". So, when Karel Gott says "v kartách já smůlu mám," it literally translates into "in cards, I am unlucky".

Other phrases using the word luck are: "neštěstí nechodí po horách ale po lidech" - bad luck does not walk over mountains but over people, which basically means that accidents do happen or that bad luck affects real people; "neštěstí nechodí samo" the English equivalent of this would be "it never rains but it pours"; and "koledovat si o neštěstí", which means to ask for trouble.