Monthly Archives: May 2013

Below or Bellow

These two words are mixed up quite often, especially since the spelling is very similar – single L or double L makes all the difference. Usually, you want to write the word with one L:

below (česky: pod, dole)

And then there is the word that many people do not even know but they misspell below (see above Smile). Unfortunately, most spell checkers will not correct it, since it is a real word.

bellow (česky: řvát, křičet, bučet)

  • to make a noise like the deep roar of a large animal
  • to shout in a deep voice

I hope this will help you to spell below correctly even if the spell checker will allow you to use bellow as well, not knowing what you wanted to say.

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Don’t buy a pig in a poke

I like how notorious idioms use different metaphors in Czech and English. Compare the Czech idiom with it’s English equivalent:

  • English: To kill two birds with one stone.
  • Czech: To kill two flies with one stroke. (Dvě mouchy jednou ranou)

Both express the efficiency of a certain task, but the English idiom is a bit more bloody to say the least Smile. Well, another idiom that caught my attention is this one:

Maybe you can already guess it’s meaning, because you know the Czech equivalent: To buy a hare in a sack (Koupit zajíce v pytli). The meaning is simple – you have to check what you are buying before the actual purchase. This idiom originates in the Late Middle Ages when people would buy a pig, but because the pig was in a bag and they didn’t open the bag, they would actually buy a dog or a cat (which, by standards back then, was not a better deal).

Wikipedia has an interesting table of how different languages have different idioms like this, with various animals:

Bulgarian
да купиш котка в торба
to buy a cat in a bag

Catalan
Donar/Prendre gat per llebre
to give/to take cat instead of hare

Chinese
挂羊头卖狗肉
sell dog meat as mutton

Croatian
kupiti mačka u vreći
to buy a cat in a sack

Czech
koupit zajíce v pytli
to buy a hare in a sack

Danish
at købe katten i sækken
to buy the cat in the sack

Dutch
een kat in een zak kopen
to buy a cat in a sack

Estonian
ostma põrsast kotis
to buy a piglet in a sack

French
acheter un chat dans un sac
acheter chat en poche
to buy a cat in a bag

Finnish
ostaa sika säkissä
to buy a pig in a sack

German
Die Katze im Sack kaufen
to buy the cat in the sack

Greek
αγοράζω γουρούνι στο σακκί
to buy a pig in a sack

… and many others. Interesting, isn’t it?

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Filed under Advanced English (pokročilí), Funny (vtipné), Intermediate (středně pokročilí)

Does that ring a bell?

Conditioned reflexThis favorite idiom is probably one you know:

  • Does that ring a bell?

It loosely translates as Připomíná ti to něco? and is often used to describe a vague memory or familiarity.

A: Have you heard about Terry Pratchett?
B: That does ring a bell… he is a writer, right?

A good synonym is “sounds familiar”. Both these phrases are sometimes used:

  • sarcastically:
    • Yesterday you promised to clean the car. Does that ring a bell?
  • apologetically:
    • What you said his name was? Harthsmuth? Sorry, doesn’t ring a bell.

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Filed under Intermediate (středně pokročilí), Vocabulary (slovíčka)

Are you Putin’ me on?

For some reason, the Internet is obsessed with the name of Vladimir Putin. Here is the best collection:

image

  • lad – chlapec
  • dad – otec
  • sad – smutný
  • mad – rozčilený
  • glad – šťastný
  • Are you putting me on? – Děláš si ze mě šoufky?

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Filed under Funny (vtipné), Vocabulary (slovíčka), Základy angličtiny