The international service of Czech Radio 
18-11-2019, 10:22 UTC
Living Czech

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four ...

Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm Nick Carey, and I am joined in the studio today by Jana Kotalikova. This week we will take a look at growing up and growing older in Czech.

The natural precursor to any growing up is, of course narození, birth. This is usually expressed using the verb narodit se, to be born, and from this we also get the word narozeniny, or birthday. In the very early stages of life, an infant is referred to as a mimino or using the diminutive form, miminko. In time a miminko will learn how to chodit po ètyøech, literally walk on all fours, or to crawl. By this time, said baby is no longer a mimino infant but a dítì, or child.

As the dítì, child continues to vyrùstat, or grow up, their gender tends to be referred to more often. A girl is either a dívka or holka, and a boy is a kluk or chlapec. These terms are used throughout childhood, and even adults are referred to as boys and girls by their friends. The next major change we reach after childhood is, of course one that we all no doubt with a mixture of horror and nostalgia, and this is puberta, or puberty. Anyone in this age group is referred to using the slang term puber»ák, if they are a boy, or puber»áèka if they are a girl.

Once puberta is over, of course, one is dospìlý, or grown up, or adult and the terms mu¾ and ¾ena, man and woman come into play. On the way of course, a young man on the cusp of adulthood is often referred to in Czech as a mladý mu¾ or literally a young man. A young woman is referred to as a mladá paní, or young lady. This stage has no real age limit on it. I am still referred to as mladí mu¾i by many people older than myself, and I have been told by friends up to the age of fifty that old women will still call them mladí mu¾i in the street. I guess in a way it is a compliment, and pleasant to know that in some people's eyes you are still young, but to many native English speakers it just sounds silly.

Once you reach the position where you appear to be dospìlý or adult, or if someone is trying to sell you something, then you are referred to as vá¾ený pane or vá¾ená paní, which translates roughly as esteemed or most respected sir or madam. I am sorry to say that I also find this one strange, for when people refer to me as vá¾ený pane Carey, or esteemed Mr. Carey I find myself looking round for my father. But I digress.

By now, though, time we are beginning the process of stárnutí or getting old. We have our own dìti by now, and are rodièe, or parents. Eventually we will have vnouèata, or grandchildren, and become a babièka, grandmother or dìdeèek, grandfather. The slang terms bába and dìda are used for grandparents, and can be both familiar and offensive terms. You can call your sweet old grandfather dìdo, or refer to an old man as a starý dìda particularly if you are young and have been annoyed by him. This is usually said out of earshot of man in question, and is used mostly by children and teenagers. I know if I ever hear myself referred to as a starý dìda, then I shall not hesitate to hit the perpetrators with my walking stick. Which leads us to the last expression for the day, být na stará kolena, which literally means to be on old knees, and is used to mean that one is too old to do something, or can even be the equivalent of you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Well, that's all we have time for this week. Next week we will take a look at the murky world of politics in Czech. Until then, 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).