Exclusive Czech proverbs and sayings

Discussion in 'Vocabulary & Translation Help' started by eso, Nov 16, 2006.

  1. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I know there are many sayings, which have similar meaning in Czech and English, even though literal translation is different.

    For example:
    No pain, no gain
    Bez práce nejsou koláče (No work, no cakes)

    To kill two birds with one stone
    Dvě mouchy jednou ranou (To kill two flies with one hit)

    Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
    Lepší vrabec v hrsti než holub na střeše ( Better sparrow in the hand than pigeon on roof )

    But it seems to me, that some Czech sayings are very characteristic to Czech (maybe Central European) nature and history experience. But maybe I'm wrong.

    A wrote these Czech sayings (and translation) and I ask you to write English equivalents, if exists. (And of course, correct my translation, if it's wrong). Thanks!

    Nikdy nebylo tak zle, aby nemohlo být ještě hůř
    If there are bad times, they allways can turn worse.

    Nechoď Vašku s pány na led,
    mnohý příklad známe,
    že pán sklouzne
    a sedlák si za něj nohu zláme

    /Karel Havlíček Borovský/

    Don't go Vasek on ice with masters,
    there are many examples,
    that if master will slip,
    Vasek break his own leg instead.

    Mluviti stříbro, mlčeti zlato
    Talking is silver, silence is gold.

    Ryba smrdí od hlavy
    Fish smells from its head.
    /meaning: if there is something wrong, it's start with leaders/establishment./

    Má máslo na hlavě
    He has butter on his head.
    /meaning: something like skeleton in closet, but it's not in closet, because all people already know it :)/

    Poturčenec horší Turka.
    Turncoat(?) worse that original. (??)
    /example: if for example government recommends to do something, poturčenec (who is subordinate to government) changes recommendation to order and double it./

    Když ptáčka lapají, pěkně mu zpívají.
    When they are catching bird, they are singing to it nicely.

    Kdo uteče ten vyhraje.
    Who runs away, wins.

    Hlavou zeď neprorazíš.
    You cannot get through wall with head.
  2. MK

    MK Well-Known Member

    Dvakrát měř, jednou řež.
    Measure twice, saw once.
  3. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Yes, this is example "normal" "universal" saying like these in first part of my post.
  4. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    "A bird sings pretty to catch his mate" Or her mate if you are refering to a woman singing pretty.

    I think we say "he has cake on his face" but I'm not positive about that one.

    We have Murphy's law which is long but we usually only say the first part.

    Murphy's law:

    *If anything can go wrong, it will (this is the part we quote)
    *If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong
    *If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway
    *If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which something can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.

    Sh*t rolls downhill.
    But this more means that when the leaders do something wrong, they make the guy on bottom take the fall for it. But it can be used by people when they see the bottom guy taking the fall to say that the leaders are really the ones at fault.

    Those are the only ones I know. If you want to read English proverbs, there is a small collection at this website.

  5. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    My husband says a Czech proverb or quote, whatever it is. When my teenagers screw something up and then defend it by saying "Well I thought..." He replies...

    "Yeah, well, we have a saying in my country. 'A man once thought and then he pooped his pants'!"

    We think this is a very strange quote. It doesn't really make much sense to us, but it makes us laugh every time. Unfortunately, he is usually serious at the time so we are more laughing at him than with him. However, it does lighten the moment. :)
  6. dp

    dp New Member

    Here is the same saying (the one I know) and translation (correct my translation, if it's wrong :roll: ):

    Jeden myslel a posral se. (A man once thought and then he sh*t/pooped himself.)

    You're right. It doesn't make sense in Czech either, but check out following "long version":

    Jeden myslel, že si uprdne a posral se. (A man once thought he will fart but he sh*t/pooped himself instead.)
  7. Duludka

    Duludka Member

    I know Jeden myslel a vymyslel tragač Tragač (dialectal word)=trakař.....A man once thought and thought out a barrow

    Je tam hlava na hlavě(there is a head on a head)...There are so many poeple that they cannot move

    Všecko můžeš ztratit, ale humor si uchovej You can loose everything, but humor you must keep.

    Nemíchej se mezi otruby, nebudou tě svině žrát Don't mix up with the corn husks and the swine won't gobble up on you.
  8. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of the three basic rules for men over 50:

    1. Never pass up a chance to pee.

    2. Never waste an erection.

    3. Never trust a fart. :wink:
  9. milton

    milton Well-Known Member

    I don't mean to take hostage this thread or anything but i'm just curious, do any of y'all know if there is an equivalent to: "get the monkey off my back" in Czech?? If so, can anybody tell me what it is?
  10. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    When you say "here" do you mean here in Czech Republic? Yes, the saying is czech. I was quoting my husband who is Czech.

    You are right, when my husband says it, he doesn't say "his pants" he says "himself" Sorry, I miss quoted him.

    The longer version does make more sense.
  11. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    We have another English saying, perhaps you have it in Czech?

    "If it's not broken don't try to fix it"

    Which means if the way of doing something is working well don't change it.
  12. r3incarnat0r

    r3incarnat0r New Member

    I've also heard:

    One today is worth two tomorrows.
    -- Benjamin Franklin

    Anyway, you can find more Czech proverbs translated to English here:
  13. dp

    dp New Member

    Z hovna bič neupleteš.
    Garbage in, garbage out.
  14. beany1975

    beany1975 Member

    A few old English proverbs:

    A stitch in time saves nine

    (If you take care of a problem whilst it is small you won't have a bigger problem to deal with later)

    Don't cross your bridges before you get to them

    (don't worry about future problems before you need to)

    six of one, half a dozen of the other

    (Each choice is really the same thing)

    Great talker are little doers

    (those people who talk a lot and who are always teaching others usually do not do much work)

    A rolling stone gathers no moss

    A person who never settles in one place or who often changes their jobs will not succeed in life/One who is always changing their mind will never get anything done.)

    Is there a Czech equivalent to "As mad as a hatter" ? Meaning to be crazy or even just simply annoyed.

    On a lighter note, an ancient Chinese proverb.

    "Man who walk round all day with hands in pockets, feel cocky!!
  15. fabik317

    fabik317 Well-Known Member

    The "long version" of the "pooped pants proverb I know is
    "Jeden myslel, ze tlacil do vozejku, a pritom tlacil do gati."
    "One thought he was pushing a barrow but instead he was pushing [shit] into his pants."

    which is often shorten (in czech) to "Jeden myslel a posral se" as someone posted above.

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