Not even this…

Фильм «Баллада для бандита»

Welcome to SoundCzech, the programme in which listeners can learn about the Czech language through song lyrics. In this week’s edition, we look at an unusual, but common Czech phrase – “ani tak.” This phrase is used considerably in the song Ani tak nehoří from the cult 1978 Czech musical Balada pro banditu.

This love song is a duet between singers Miroslav Donutil and Iva Bittová. In it we hear a character by the name of Nikola Šohaj describing a series of images that cannot compare to the love he feels for the character of Eržika. “Ani tak nehoří svíčka farářovi, jako se bělají mojí milé nohy.”

“Ani tak” is difficult to translate directly without understanding the context in which it is used. Essentially it means “not even” and is used in conjunction with the word “jako” or “as”. Confused? Let’s try to translate the sentence and you’ll see what I mean. “Not even a priests candle burns as brightly as my love’s legs.”

The next two sentences follow the same pattern “Not even sweet plum brandy smells as sweet as my love’s apples.” And the last sentence: “Not even a blow to the heart moves me as much as my love’s garden.” There is of course subtle sexual imagery in this song, achieved through a lot of poetic wordplay – but decoding that is something I’ll leave to each individual listener and reader.