I took it into my head

Hello, it's time again to learn a new Czech phrase with the help of a song. Today's tune is a 1960's duet "Motýl" (or Butterfly) written by hitmakers Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr for the legendary Semafor theatre. The stanza we will be listening to is sung by jazz trumpeter Jiří Jelínek. The phrase to listen out for is "vzít si něco do hlavy".

In this love song, the amorous singer says he feels like a butterfly that has decided it is tired of flying from flower to flower. "Zdá se mi, že jsem motýl, který si vzal do hlavy, že lítat z kytky na kytku ho vlastně nebaví." And therefore he choses the most beautiful blossom and wants to devote his life to it. He uses the phrase "vzít si něco do hlavy" in the past tense: "motýl, který si vzal do hlavy" - "a butterfly that took it into its head, that set its mind on it". The verb "vzít" means "to take". "Hlava" means "head". Everything should be clear now, so have another listen

"Vzít si něco do hlavy" - to put one's mind on doing something, implies a certain stubbornness and determination in Czech. If someone "vezme si něco do hlavy" then he or she will do it no matter what. If you think it is a bad idea whatever the person has decided to do, you would typically say in Czech: "Co sis to zase vzal do hlavy?" - "What is it that you have set your mind on doing again?" But back to our love-struck singer who feels like a butterfly that decided it is tired of skipping from flower to flower. "Vzal si do hlavy, že lítat z kytky na kytku ho nebaví."

"Vzít si něco do hlavy" is one of many Czech phrases using the word "hlava" or "head". We have mentioned some of them in previous editions of SoundCzech but here are another handful: "nemá to hlavu ani patu", literally "it has neither head nor heel", that is "it makes no sense, it has neither rhyme nor reason". "Je to hlava otevřená", literally "he is an open head", meaning "he is bright and resourceful". And finally, if you forget something, you can say "já jsem ale hlava děravá", literally "a head full of holes", meaning "a scatterbrain". That's it for today. Na shledanou.