Radio Prague's tree of knowledge

04-02-2006

Welcome to Radio Prague's Czech-teaching programme in which we look at idioms about various farm crops and plants. We have already discussed fruit, paying special attention to apples and pears, and today, our topic are fruit trees - ovocné stromy.

Welcome to Radio Prague's Czech-teaching programme in which we look at idioms about various farm crops and plants. We have already discussed fruit, paying special attention to apples and pears, and today, our topic are fruit trees - ovocné stromy.

They can grow in orchards, along roads but also isolated in the middle of the field, just like the following idiom suggests: Sám jako hruška v poli - lonesome as a pear tree in a field. Such a person really stands alone with no one to back them up or keep them company. A similar expression is sám jako kůl v plotě, lonesome as a pole in a fence.

Czech and English share an expression about things which are rare or difficult to obtain: Opravdoví přátelé nerostou na stromech or true friends don't grow on trees. On the other hand, when English speakers say that money grows on trees, meaning it is available and just waiting to be taken, Czechs will say peníze leží na ulici - money is lying on the street (just waiting for you to pick it up).

If you think someone is behaving a little strangely, you can tell them they are behaving like they have fallen from a cherry tree jako kdyby spadl z višně. Don't ask me why it is this particular tree. Another version of the phrase is ty jsi snad spadl z jahody - you must have fallen from a strawberry plant. It makes even less sense, but it is probably meant to emphasise the supposed craziness of the person.

Staying with things falling from trees, last week we mentioned the expression jablko nepadá daleko od stromu - "the apple does not fall far from the tree", meaning like father like son.

Another well-known fruit tree is the biblical tree of knowledge strom poznání. We know it bore the forbidden fruit zakázané ovoce, which most likely was not an apple but rather an apricot, pomegranate or fig.

A word which was originally connected only with fruit tree growing is grafting - roubování. In metaphorical use, the verb naroubovat, to graft, means to put something somewhere where it doesn't really belong, to try and connect the unconnectable. Just as if all of a sudden we started to talk about mushrooms.

Incidentally, mushrooms indeed will appear in one of our future lessons but now it's time to say good-bye. Na shledanou.

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