Stone upon stone


You're listening to SoundCzech - Radio Prague's own Czech language series in which you'll learn useful phrases through song lyrics. Today we'll hear a song by the Czech folk singers Jan and František Nedvěd. The song is called "Na kameni kámen" or "Stone upon stone" which is also the phrase we are listening out for today.

The whole phrase in the song is "nezůstane stát na kameni kámen". The word order is slightly adjusted to fit the notes. Usually, you can come across it as "nezůstal kámen na kameni", literally "a stone was not left on stone". The phrase refers to a great change, often a destructive one, after which nothing is the same as before. As if an earthquake or an attack demolished everything and therefore not a single stone was left unturned. And as the brothers Nedvěd sing "we will fight for our causes until a stone is not left on another (or until not a single stone has been left unturned)".

As you will have guessed, the Czech word for stone or rock is kámen. Note that the long vowel changes in the plural and other cases into a short one. Can you tell the difference between "kámen" and "na kameni"? Another phrase using the word in the genitive case is "mít srdce z kamene" - "to have a heart of stone". But the singers' hearts aren't made of stone because they care about this world and want to change it. And so they will fight for the good causes "až tu nezůstane stát na kameni kámen".

As I have said before the phrase usually goes "nezůstal kámen na kameni" and refers to a dramatic change after which nothing stayed the same. And that's it for this week's edition of SoundCzech. Good-bye and enjoy the rest of "Na kameni kámen" by Jan and František Nedvěd.