Hello and welcome again to the Czech farm... and what kind of farm would it be without cows, bulls, heifers, oxen and calves? All those animals were so important to our ancestors that they coined many phrases using those words. However, we must admit that a lot of them don't seem to be very flattering for the animals. With the exception of the bull which is the symbol of both a strong body and will, the rest of the family have a reputation for not being very bright and their names have an abusive meaning when applied to human beings.
Cow - kráva - is the mature female of domestic cattle. The male, bull, is called býk. The young, a calf is tele in Czech. The castrated male, ox, is vùl. And a female that has not had a calf yet, a heifer, is called jalovice or jalová kráva.
And we'll start off with an idiom about a heifer and a calf. If Czechs say about someone that he is able to talk a calf out of a heifer vymámit z jalové krávy tele, they mean the person is so persuasive and persistent that he can achieve the impossible, such as vymámit z jalové krávy tele. The calf seems to be the most popular animal as far as Czech cattle idioms are concerned. To describe someone's not particularly bright facial expression, the Czech language uses a saying: Dívá se jako tele na nová vrata. He's staring like a calf at a new door. You can just imagine the expression of bewilderment and surprise on a calf's face. Dívá se jako tele na nová vrata. Confusion and disorientation is in the heart of another "calf phrase". Telecí léta, translated as the "calf years", means puberty, the awkward age. Simply: telecí léta. The last calf idiom is common to all cultures that draw on the heritage of the Bible. It is to worship the golden calf - klanìt se zlatému teleti. Literally, to bow down to the golden calf. Klanìt se zlatému teleti. There is another phrase, used worldwide, that puts together cattle and religion. It is the sacred cow - posvátná kráva, a person or thing regarded as sacrosanct and immune from violation or criticism. Posvátná kráva. The expression refers to the Hindus' attitude to cows, which is not worship but respect.
And that's the end of today's show. I hope you'll join us next time and meanwhile find a little time to ruminate on the similarities and differences between idioms in Czech and your own language. Until then na shledanou.
See also Living Czech.