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SLOVAK MATTERS

Think he or she is worth a sin?

HERE in Slovakia, people do not go out to pick up chicks or cruise for guys. Instead they go out to hook (zháčiť) or pack (zbaliť) someone. When hooking and packing, everything you say counts. For this reason, here is a guide to the most commonly used words to help you get to work; or perhaps just to understand what those guys at the next table are talking about.
First, find your age group. Adolescents (chalani - boys, baby - girls) tend to prefer zháčiť, and you might overhear the question "who did you hook Saturday?" ("koho si zháčil v sobotu?").

HERE in Slovakia, people do not go out to pick up chicks or cruise for guys. Instead they go out to hook (zháčiť) or pack (zbaliť) someone. When hooking and packing, everything you say counts. For this reason, here is a guide to the most commonly used words to help you get to work; or perhaps just to understand what those guys at the next table are talking about.

First, find your age group. Adolescents (chalani - boys, baby - girls) tend to prefer zháčiť, and you might overhear the question "who did you hook Saturday?" ("koho si zháčil v sobotu?"). Meanwhile the older generations seem to prefer to zbaliť or to hunt (loviť) as in "I'm going on the hunt" ("Idem na lov").

Now a moment to expand on slang used to talk about the sexes. The word baba can suggest that the girl in question is young, naive, and attractive, though not really taken seriously by the speaker. Variants used for women include čaja, a word mainly used in the east of Slovakia and perhaps of Roma origin, and its diminutive čajka (literally "gull"), something like calling a girl a bird in English. From the same linguistic source is the male equivalent, šrác.

To identify an attractive girl, there are a few phrases in common use, starting with "to je ale kosť", meaning "she is a bone". Do not worry, this does not have the same lewd implication as it does in English; it merely says "she's an attractive girl". Another variation is "ona je dobrá čaja", or "to je kočka" ("she is a cat"). If all this is true, you might say "stála by za hriech" - "she's worth a sin".

To discuss men, one young woman in the office suggests using "má dobrú kostru", literally "he has a good skeleton" to say a guy has a nice body. This is also used vice versa, suggesting that the girl is simply sexica (sexy).

None of the terms mentioned above refer to what happens once someone is hooked, packed, or hunted down. If two people are good flirters, they may manage to get excited (vzrušení), an all purpose word that has sexual and nonsexual uses, or the more explicit nadržaní - horny.

There are endless expressions for what could happen next in this story, but decency requires I leave you to find them on your own.

The day after a successful pack, a girl can tell her friends "zbalila som super týpka" ("I picked up a great one"), while a guy can praise his catch with the following: "ulovil som skvelú kosť (ženu, babu, čaju)".

On the other hand, not everyone wants to be packed. My colleague tells me that men, often "aspoň trochu pod parou" ("at least a bit drunk"), have a habit of feeding her bad pick-up lines about how beautiful her eyes are. When someone's advances are unwelcome, Slovaks might say choď preč (go away), daj si pohov (take a rest), daj si odchod (literally meaning "give yourself a leave"), or strať sa (get lost) to get the message across. And when someone starts to say really unpleasant things, you can say "sklapni!" (shut up) or "drž hubu", which has the same meaning but is literally "hold your mushroom".

Just beware of holding your horses so much that you end up spending the rest of your life as an old bachelor (starý mládenec) or a spinster (stará dievka).

To avoid such a fate, it might be safer to avoid the pick-up lines and ask someone on a date, maybe someone you have seen more than once in your life. If you are going to go after someone (ísť po niekom) in order to start a relationship, you need a different vocabulary.

Starting with the least amount of commitment, there is randiť, to date. You can say "randím s ňou/s ním" ("I'm dating her/him"), meaning that you are in the beginning stages of a relationship and most likely meeting in public places: "v štvrtok ideme na rande" ("on Thursday we are going on a date"). When things get more serious and some time has passed, then you should switch to saying "chodím s ňou/s ním" ("I'm going out with her/him"). It is fair to use this to refer to your several-month relationship, about which it would be ridiculous to say "randíme" ("we're dating").

At first, people probably assume that "si do neho/do nej buchnutá/ý" ("you have a crush on him/her"). If the relationship lasts longer, you may be in love. What comes next in the love story will not fit here - you can look forward to a column about marital bliss some other time.

For now I am thinking about the dramatic early stages of romance, like when one person steals somebody else's girlfrie-nd/boyfriend (prebrať niekomu priateľ-ku/priateľa or frajerku/frajera). Again, there are plenty of impolite things to be said in this case, but once you calm down you might describe the event without cursing by saying "I was so angry I almost flew out of my skin" ("Tak ma to nahnevalo, že som skoro vyletel/a z kože").

On the other hand, if you decide it is time for a change you have to break up (rozísť sa) with your lover. When you are on the receiving end it is better to say "dostať košom" literally "to get (beaten) with trash" and meaning to be dumped. "She dumped me" translates as "dala mi košom". Finally, "dať kopačky niekomu" is to give someone a kick with a soccer cleat. This is a commonly used expression, I have been assured, and does not have the comedic and irreverent sound that it does in English.

Once you have been dumped, you will only need this good old standby: "Mám ho/ju na háku" meaning "I don't care about him/her." Yeah, right.

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