Bitten by the Czech bug

07-01-2006

In today's lesson, we will be talking about probably the least popular members of the animal kingdom - the creepy-crawlies. The insect most frequently represented in Czech idioms is probably the fly. Moucha. To solve two problems at once can be expressed by the expression: Zabít dvě mouchy jednou ranou . Literally, "to kill two flies with one blow", or to use the English idiom, to kill two birds with one stone.

A passive and apathetic person can be described by the phrase: Mouchy snězte si mě , or "flies eat me", meaning do whatever you want to me, I don't care if the flies eat me alive. Flies also symbolise multitude. If Czechs say: Je tam lidí jako much - "there are as many people as flies", they mean there is a large crowd of people. The fly - moucha - also stands for a blemish, a fault, usually in something new, for example a pilot product or a new technology. If there are flaws to be fixed, we can say musíme ještě vychytat mouchy - "we have yet to catch the flies", we need to mend the flaws. There are fussy people who constantly find flaws with everything, and about them, Czechs say na všem vidí mouchy - "they see flies everywhere", that is they find flaws with everything.

The word beetle - brouk , does not only mean the popular model of Volkswagen but also a gnawing worry. To "plant a beetle in someone's head", nasadit brouka do hlavy , means make someone worry about something and think of it all the time, as if a beetle was crawling inside their head. About someone who does not seem completely sane or who seems to have obsessive thoughts, we might say that he or she has a "cockroach on his or her brain". Má švába na mozku . Someone who is not very friendly and outgoing and has his strange little ways can be described as divný pavouk , a "strange spider", a strange customer.

If someone behaves in a promiscuous way or has changeable interests, we can say the person is přelétavý jako motýlek , "flighty as a butterfly", which flits from one flower to another. And finally, parents can say about their brood storming the fridge several times a day that they are "like locust" - jako kobylky . They arrive in a swarm, devour everything and leave again.

And it's time for us to leave, too. Until next time, na shledanou.

07-01-2006

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