CZ > ENG Phrase help please

Discussion in 'Vocabulary & Translation Help' started by TroskuAmericanka, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. TroskuAmericanka

    TroskuAmericanka Active Member

    Ok here is a phrase that I found, if anyone can translate it for me, I would be grateful. I understand the words, but for some reason the whole thing just doesn't make sense to me...
    "Když už člověk jednou je, tak má koukat, aby byl. A když kouká, aby byl, a je, tak má být to, co je, a nemá být neni, jak tomu v mnoha případech je."

    Thanks! :D
  2. mbm

    mbm Well-Known Member

    Don't worry, it's meant to be hard to follow. It's one of Jan Werich's witticisms. Very difficult to translate, but I'll have a go:

    Když už člověk jednou je, tak má koukat, aby byl.
    Once a person is (=exists), he should see to it that he is (=lives life to the full).

    A když kouká, aby byl, a je,
    And once he sees to it that he is, and once he is,

    tak má být to, co je, a nemá být to, co není,
    then he should be what he is, and should not be what he isn't,

    jak tomu v mnoha případech je.
    as it in many cases is (=as is often the case).
  3. TroskuAmericanka

    TroskuAmericanka Active Member

    Thanks! I have just been learning the whole Would Could Should thing in Czech so the "aby byl" etc threw me off a little bit. Thanks for your help! :D :D :D
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure of mbm's translation of koukat. Does see to something mean the same as mind something?

    I was always confused by multiple negation in English. So, when speaking about Werich, how to translate Nikdy nic nikdo nemá míti za definitivní, neb nikdy nikdo neví, co se může státi?
  5. mbm

    mbm Well-Known Member

    I stand by it! If you "see to it that something happens", you make sure that it happens, you do everything you can to make it happen. And that's exactly the meaning invoked in Werich's phrase, as far as I can tell. I chose this wording on purpose to keep the translation as literal as possible.

    I don't know nothing 'bout no multiple negative ;-)
  6. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Wer==Proper english grammar never uses the double negative.
    When you see double negatives in writing or here it, it is considered not highly educated or especially colloquial.
    I don't know nothing about that.
    People would know what you mean but they would also recognize that it is sloppy english.
    In english two negatives equal a positive.
    What that sentence actually means is=I know something about that.

    Nikdy nic nikdo nemá míti za definitivní, neb nikdy nikdo neví, co se může státi?=
    I´ll give a go at translating this==
    Never nothing no one shouldn't have defininitvely(positively, for sure),
    or never no one doesn't know, what he can become.
    Now take out the negatives=
    Nobody ever has anything definitively, or nobody ever knows what he can become.

    If neb is translated as nor
    Then last part of sentence would say
    nor does anyone ever know what he can be.

    Only one negative per clause
  7. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    Nikdy nic nikdo nemá míti za definitivní, neb nikdy nikdo neví, co se může státi.

    I would translate it as Nobody ever has to take anything for definitive, as nobody ever knows (one never knows) what may happen.
  8. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jana
    I will definitely defer to your knowledge, as I am only an amateur taking guesses at the true meaning. :D
    Thanks for that.
    I was just reading troskuAmericanka's post about how the site seems overly devoted to Prague life, hmmm, hadn't thought of that.
    I would like to hear about life in the country and smaller towns though.
    I love the scenery in the country.
    But it's not up to you, right? It is the people that write in to the forum, they lead the discussions. Understandable.
  9. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Thanks, scrimshaw. I had no problem with doubled negation but the tripled one was doing my head in. Your explanation was clear, although it was a little mistranslated because you confused "neb" as "neboť" (=because) with "neb" as "nebo" (= or). Of course, Jana's translation is brilliant.

    Neb neb může být neboť neb nebo neb aneb. (Nice sentence, is'nt? :twisted:)
    Since neb could be because (since, for, as) or or or alias (or, tu put it differently, aka).
  10. Jana

    Jana Well-Known Member

    To nemá chybu :!: :!: :!:
  11. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    That's a great sentence.
    Even a czech speaker would take a little while to figure it out, right?

    Tongue twisters are great

    You heard of this one?
    How much wood could a woodchuck chuck,
    if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

    The idea is to say it fast.
    Hard for kids

    Sally sells seashells down by the seashore

    Neb neb také znamená neb, nebo nebut´, je to šložité slovo.
    Ma to smysl?
  12. Ájík

    Ájík Well-Known Member

    Hey, It's not nebuť but neboť.

    My favourite tongue twister is:
    "Tři sta třicet tři stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes stři sta třicet tři stříbrných střech."

    And great is this: "Nenaolejuje-li tě Julie, naolejuji Julii já."

    "Kolouch, kohout s mouchou mnohou, s hloupou chloubou houpou nohou, plavou dlouhoustrouhou ouzkou, chroupou oukrop s pouhou houskou."

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