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Czech Lesson: How to say It is over if you date a Czech

In Language on February 20, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

(c) Getty Images

(c) Getty Images

One of the most interesting things about languages is the use of metaphors. I am lucky that most texts I translate do not have/use any, as they are mostly contracts, manuals, marketing reports, laws, regulations, etc. And the movies I translated [including Greyhounds with James Coburn, or Double Tap with Heather Locklear or Farewell My Love with Robert Culp] were pretty easy in this regard. The first time I heard the English phrase I gave her the heisman, I had no idea what it meant, because 1990’s language schools do not teach this type of colloquial language… I am sure the Czech version of the same is way more understandable.

Oddly enough, it also has something to do with football. The term heisman, or Heisman, is derived from the name of NFL Heisman Trophy, The Urban Dictionary explains. So when a Czech guy wants to say he broke up with his girlfriend, he will say:

Dal jsem ji kopacky.

which literally translates as

I gave her football shoes.

I have no idea why football shoes but I am pretty sure it has something to do with the similarity of the term used for football shoes, kopacky [kicking shoes], and the verb odkopnout, which means to kick [somebody] out/away. Either way, it is still strange that the most popular sport in this country [US: soccer/EU:football] deserves to be associated with breakups.

Not to worry, football/soccer friends. Another way to describe being dumped/having dumped someone in Czech is:

Pustil jsem ji k vode.

which means

I let her go to the river.

My dictionary offers English-languare equivalents like: I stood her up, or I gave her the air, or I gave her the mitten. Can’t tell by the listing how established they are, but I only heard the first one. I think it has something to do with the fact that water flows fast and it will take her away. Or she will drown, perhaps.

One Response to “Czech Lesson: How to say It is over if you date a Czech”

  1. Kopacky are “cleats” in English :o) It’s so hard some times to try translate something literally. My husband’s favorite saying is: Everybody is a general after a war (Kazdy je generalem po bitve), which has the same meaning as Monday Night Quarterback.

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