The international service of Czech Radio 
14-10-2019, 21:14 UTC
Living Czech

Show me the way to go home...

Listen in RealAudio: Streaming - Download

Hello and welcome again to Living Czech. Today we continue with a quite typical topic, beer and alcohol. After last week's orientation lesson we move now to slang terms for beer and alcohol. With me is Olga Szantova, who's looking a little thirsty, that's mám ¾ízeò in Czech.

We'll start off with a beer, or pivo. Now, the Czechs are very fond of diminutives, or in simpler terms of endearment or nicknames, similar perhaps to calling a cat a "kitty". So, from pivo, we get pivko, which means little beer, and piveèko, which means tiny little beer. Don't be fooled, though, into thinking that you will get a very small glass of beer. It will show the barman that you are very fond of the amber nectar.

Now, when you order a beer, the waiter or waitress will often ask "desítka nebo dvanáctka?", which literally means "a ten or a twelve?". This means a ten of twelve degree beer. Though now banned by law, this system refers to the amount of malt used in making the beer, and most Czechs still in these terms. For your information, desítka is about up to about 3.5% alcohol and a dvanáctka is up to 4%.

As beer is so frequently drunk here, and is almost a staple of every diet, this is reflected in the terms for it. There is tekutý chleb, which means liquid bread, ¾ivá voda, or life-giving water.

Over to shots. Rum first. This is often referred to as zrzavá voda, or rusty coloured water and tuzemák, which is from the word tuzemský, meaning local produce, or Czech rum.

Fernet next. This is a bitter liquer made from a blend of about twenty herbs, and I personally think it tastes awful. A very common slang term for this drink is lak na rakve, or varnish for your coffin. It is also called dech mrtvé milenky, or the breath of a dead mistress. If you have ever tried it, you probably won't need to ask why.

Becherovka. This is a very famous spirit made from a blend of herbs and is drunk as a digestive, and some claim that drinking a shot a day will keep you healthy. It is made in Karlovy Vary, a world famous spa town in West Bohemia. There are twelve springs there where you can take the waters, and Becherovka is frequently referred to as tøináctý pramen, or the thirteenth spring.

Slivovice. This is a spirit made from plums, and can range in strength from forty percent in the shops to about eighty percent for homemade stuff. Make sure you check which is which before you drink it. This drink is referred to a tekutý ¹vestky, or liquid plums.

And finally zelená, or green. This is créme de mint, and the Czechs simply call it zelená, because of its bright green colour.

Well that's all we have time for. Next week we will have a look at the Czechs at work. Until then, Olga and I will be in the pub or v hospodì. So for now, mìjte se fajn, or take care!

In order to properly view letters from the Czech alphabet it is necessary to set your browser to Central European languages (ISO 8859-2).