Scythe hitting stone


Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech our Czech language course in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by the popular Czech band Divokej Bill (Wild Bill) and the name of the song is Znamení (The Sign). The phrase to look out for is “kosa na kámen narazí”.

The English word for “kosa” is scythe; “kosa na kámen” or “kosa na kámen narazí”– means like a scythe hitting stone - an unexpected impact or shock. The hitting of a hidden stone while cutting tall grass. “Kosa na kámen narazí”– a scythe hitting stone is stopped – is the equivalent of saying someone hit the wall or was stopped dead or was stopped dead in their tracks. A politician who tries to push through an unpopular proposal “může narazit”– can be unexpectedly stopped in Parliament or, say, in a general election. In Divokej Bill’s song the imagery of a scythe hitting stone (one can almost hear the ding of the scythe turned jarringly away) is a symbol, the sign implied in the title. In the song, the lyrics seem to suggest, that one who hits stone should reconsider their actions, maybe even their life’s direction. For Divokej Bill, “kosa na kámen” is a sign and even something of a warning.

Of course, if you pride yourself on being tough, you may choose not to heed it. It may be that you are as tough as stone – “tvrdý jako kámen”– like a rock or tough as steel. Arnie and other Hollywood action heroes come to mind (a Czech tough-guy actor might be Marek Vašut, although that is a bit of a stretch). Scythe on stone? Arnie and co. wouldn’t be put off by a mere “kámen”, now would they? I’m sure they’d plough straight through that field, leaving no stone unturned. Damaged scythe? Puuuhlease!

On the other hand, if you heed the warning, you can always decide to make a quick exit. In that case, what better than to disappear like a stone thrown into water? “Zmizel, jako by kámen do vody hodil”. He disappeared like he had thrown a stone into water: in other words, without a trace.