Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?
Hello and welcome to another episode of our new Czech-teaching series explaining Czech idioms with wild animals. Today we look at a much-feared beast of prey - the wolf. The Czech word vlk is of the same Indo-European origin as the English or German term.
The wolf is an age-old enemy of humans, threatening their flocks of sheep, as well as little girls dressed in red, strolling on their own in the woods.
The wolf is a ravenous beast and it is no coincidence that this phrase has been coined: mít hlad jako vlk - to be hungry like a wolf.
A hungry wolf can cause grave damage to your livestock. But sometimes it is possible to feed the proverbial wolf without losing a single animal. Czechs call it "to give to wolf his feed and keep the goat whole" - vlk se nažere a koza zůstane celá. The figurative meaning is to please someone without having to sacrifice anything, or to please both sides. Vlk se nažere a koza zůstane celá.
The wolf is also known to appear suddenly and unexpectedly. Hence the expression my o vlku a vlk za humny. Translated into English: we are talking about the wolf and the wolf is in the backyard, or - talk of the devil and he appears. My o vlku a vlk za humny.
A lone wolf is vlk samotář;, while this collocation - mořský vlk - means an old sea-dog, an old sea-salt.
Wolves can scare us just by howling. There is a proverb on wolves and howling which we'll end the programme with: kdo chce s vlky býti, musí s nimi výti. He who wants to be with the wolves must howl with them; or with foxes one must play the fox or when in Rome do as Romans do. Kdo chce s vlky býti, musí s nimi výti. So now we're off to practice...