They're springing up like mushrooms after the rain

Photo: CTK

Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech – Radio Prague’s Czech language series in which you can learn idioms through song lyrics. Today, we’ll be listening to a song by Czech rockers Kabát called “Kdo si nechce hubu spálit”, which translates into English roughly as “If you don’t want to get into trouble”. The phrase to listen out for is “rostou nám tak jako houby po dešti”, which comes right at the beginning of the song.

“Rostou nám tak jako houby po dešti” means literally “they are growing”, or “they are springing up around us like mushrooms after the rain”. You can say that new houses, or supermarkets, “rostou jako houby po dešti” when they are being built all over the place. The idiom normally refers to structures, or things that have to be built up out of the ground. People can’t grow like mushrooms after the rain - they grow, as it happens, “jako z vody”, or “as if out of water”, which sounds equally as environmentally-friendly.

But back to our mushrooms. Before you had even really started growing - when you were just the smallest embryo in your mother’s womb, you were still “picking mushrooms” in Czech idiom. “To jsi byl ještě na houbách” translates literally from Czech as “you were still picking mushrooms”, and figuratively means something like “you were still a twinkle in your father’s eye”. But, there is a slight difference between the two phrases, because you were already conceived when you were “picking mushrooms”, whereas the implication is that you weren’t when you were “a twinkle in your father’s eye”.

Photo: CTK
And one final bit of Czech mushroom miscellany – Czechs seem to love fungi, and going out to find them in the forest, but the word “mushrooms”, or “houby” can be used quite disparagingly in Czech, to refer to nonsense, or rubbish being spoken. If you are in the middle of expounding one of your brilliant ideas in Czech and someone butts in and says “houby”, then that means they don’t agree with what you are saying at all, and they think you are speaking mushrooms.

I hope this SoundCzech hasn’t just proved to be “houby”, and that you have learnt some useful phrases pertaining to one of the nation’s biggest loves – mushrooms. Until next time though, “na shledanou”– good bye!