Where the carpenter left a hole


Hello, this is SoundCzech, Radio Prague’s very own programme in which you can learn some interesting, if not useful phrases while listening to music. Today’s phrase to listen to is kde nechal tesař díru, or where the carpenter left a hole. This old and rather odd saying appeared in a song by the Moravian band Mňága a Žďorp, released on their recent album, Takže dobrý.

In the song, called Fantasy for a mute lyre, the phrase goes pro mě jistej tesař nechal díru, meaning a certain carpenter left a hole for me. This is a variation of a very old Czech saying, kde nechal tesař díru, or where a carpenter left a hole. As you might have guessed, the phrase is used to suggest you are looking for a way out, for a way to escape. Have another listen.

The saying probably comes from the times when houses where still built of wood. When you’re trapped inside, you say you were looking for a hole to get out, figuratively speaking. Nowadays, the phrase sounds a little too archaic, but you can still come across it sometimes, just like in this song.

Czechs have naturally many other ways of expressing the need to get away. You can use the verb zdrhnout, to run away. A little more colloquial is the verb zdejchnout se, which is used to suggest someone makes for an inconspicuous exit. Another more modern verb would be odprejsknout– literally to peel off. That can also be used a rather rude command – vodprejskni– get lost.

When you find yourself in a situation that does not allow for an overt escape, you might want to zmizet po anglicku– to disappear the English way. You can also say vypařit se, which means to evaporate. Yet another phrase, that was popular with our great grandparents, is vzít nohy na ramena– literally to put you feet on your shoulders.