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14-11-2019, 06:08 UTC
Living Czech

From May to September ...

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Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm Nick Carey, and I am joined in the studio today by Jana Kotalikova. The theme for this week is the autumn.

The autumn tends to be a fairly short season in the Czech Republic, and this is, as far as I can ascertain, reflected in the word for it in Czech, podzim. This is formed from the words pod meaning, under, and zima, winter. This means that the podzim can be translated as under winter.

When the summers are hot, as they have been this year, then we tend to have what is called a babí léto, literally a grandmother's summer, which is the equivalent of the English term, and Indian summer. I have been unable to ascertain why grandmothers have anything to do with the summer, or Indians for that matter, but I suspect it was a originally called a babí léto because it comes late in the year, or when the year is old. If anyone has a better theory, please let me know.

During the babí léto part of the autumn, which brings gorgeous, hot sunshine up until late September, burèák season is in full swing. Burèák is a Slovak word in origin and means bubbly wine. In the Czech Republic, burèák is basically unfermented wine, which you can find in a vinárna, wine shop, or on the street. One thing to note about burèák is that when you buy a bottle of it, or see bottles in a vinárna, they usually have a piece of cloth stuck in the neck, rather than a cork. This is because as burèák is unfermented wine, it is actually still in the process of fermenting, so if you were to insert a ¹punt, cork into the bottle, the ¹punt will either come out again at great speed, or the bottle will explode.

Another great pastime for the Czechs in the early autumn is the gathering of houby, or mushrooms. This is an intense national pastime, with many thousands of people, all confirmed houbaøi, or mushroom pickers, heading out into the countryside in search of elusive fauna and fungi.

While you are drinking your burèák or searching for houby, you may be vaguely aware that the world is changing around you. The listy, leaves on the trees, mìní barvy are changing colour, and zaèínají padat are beginning to fall. One of the things I have always loved about Czech is the straightforward name it has for certain things. A prime example of this is listopad, or November. Rather than the English word which originally meant the ninth month, listopad literally means the falling of the leaves, and expresses simply the changing of the season.

On a clear at this time of year, you will wake up in the morning to find mráz, frost on the ground, and in the very near future, we will have sníh, snow.

An unfortunate part of what will soon be winter is that the topení, heat on Czech hromadná doprava, public transport is now on. This is understandable, considering that outside je zima, it's cold, but the problem is that the heating is either on at about twenty five degrees centigrade, or off. There is no in between.

Well, that's all we have time for this week. Next week we will take a look at gender in Czech. Until then, mìjte se fajn, or take care.

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