Give me your hand


Welcome to Radio Prague’s Czech language course SoundCzech in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s phrases revolve around the word ruka, meaning hand. Here is Vaclav Neckar with a song called give me your hand - Podej mi ruku.

Photo: Štěpánka BudkováPhoto: Štěpánka Budková As one might expect the word hand appears in a great number of Czech idioms. Žádat o ruku means to ask for someone’s hand in marriage. Ruku na to – means to offer your hand in pledge of something, for instance to seal a business deal. Though in this song the singer is merely saying Podej mi ruku a projdem Václavák – give me your hand and we will walk down Wenceslas Square.

Hands, of course, are closely related to work and there are plenty of phrases that relate to good or bad work. Jde mu to od ruky, means “things move fast under his hands” or he’s very good at what he is doing. Mít zlaté ruce translates as having hands of gold and also refers to someone being exceptionally skillful, be it a shoemaker or brain surgeon. Contrary to that, if you want to say someone is very bad at some activity you can say má obě ruce levé he has two left hands. Mam plné ruce práce means my hands are full of work – in other words, I am extremely busy. And finally the work rukodělný is the Czech word for handmade.

Dát ruku do ohně literally translates as putting your hand in the fire and is used when you want to express that you have absolute faith in someone or are 100 percent sure about something. Dam za to ruku do ohně says I will put my hand in the fire if this is not so.

Ruka ruku myje translates as one hand washes another and is the Czech equivalent of you scratch my back and I‘ll scratch yours, jít někomu na ruku means to act in a way that will accommodate someone, and je moje pravá ruka – he or she is my right-hand –means they are your most important aide. Prazdné ruce means empty hands and says that you have nothing. And finally samá ruka, samá noha translates as being all hands and legs and is usually used to describe long, lean teenagers.