To sleep until pink


Hello, and welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s Czech language course, in which you can learn a new idiom or two through song lyrics. Today, we’ll be listening to a tune by legendary singer-songwriter Karel Plíhal, called ‘O Písničce’ (in English ‘About a Song’). The phrase to listen out for comes at the start of the second verse and goes ‘vyspala se do růžova’.

‘Vyspat se do růžova’ means to have a good night’s sleep. Literally, ‘vyspat se do růžova’ translates as ‘to sleep until pink’ or ‘to sleep until rosy’ – the adjective ‘růžový’ meaning both ‘pink’ and ‘rose’ (as in the flower) in Czech. I suppose a botanical equivalent to ‘vyspat se do růžova’ in English would be ‘to sleep like a log’. When Karel Plíhal uses the phrase in ‘O Písničce’, he sings ‘vyspala se do růžova’– meaning ‘she slept soundly’ – who’s the mystery woman? Well, in fact she’s not a woman at all, ‘she’ is the song in Plíhal’s title (‘písnička’ or ‘song’ is feminine in Czech). Have another listen:

‘Vyspat se do růžova’ probably alludes to the nice rosy colour of your cheeks after a good night’s sleep more than anything else – but speaking of roses and sleeping quarters, there’s another Czech idiom that you should know. If someone ‘has it easy’ in this country then he or she ‘má na růžích ustláno’. ‘Mít na růžích ustláno’ translates more or less as ‘to have one’s bed made on roses’. Interestingly, you use the corresponding phrase ‘bed of roses’ in English, but most often in the negative, to mean the exact opposite. Learning Czech may be no bed of roses, but once you do, you’ll ‘mít na růžích ustláno’ here in Prague.

And a quick bit of fairytale before I go. Sleeping Beauty is not known as Sleeping Beauty in this country – but as ‘Šípková Růženka’ instead. ‘Šípková Růženka’ means ‘Briar Rose’ in translation. It’s a bit of the fairytale that I always forget, but our sleepy heroine is enclosed in her slumber by a thicket of dog-roses – which obviously play a much more important role in the Czech version of the tale.

But I hope you aren’t dozing off yourself with all of this talk of sleep. And stick with the Czech learning, because, as they say in this country ‘trpělivost růže přináší’– ‘patience reaps roses’. But for now, that’s all – so ‘na shledanou’, goodbye!