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SLOVAK MATTERS

As good as honey

LOOKING back over the past editions of Slovak
Matters, one notices a disturbing pattern. Insults, pick-up lines, and other sensational material have been the
topic of many a column. Even the week covering weddings paid great attention to dramatic matters like
kidnapping, drunkenness, and broken crockery. To change the tone of these pages, today we will turn to all
things dobré ako med, or as good as honey.


GO on, it does not hurt to say a kind word.
photo: File photo

LOOKING back over the past editions of Slovak Matters, one notices a disturbing pattern. Insults, pick-up lines, and other sensational material have been the topic of many a column. Even the week covering weddings paid great attention to dramatic matters like kidnapping, drunkenness, and broken crockery. To change the tone of these pages, today we will turn to all things dobré ako med, or as good as honey.

This is not a moral judgment - so do not worry that you will only be able to use that expression and the following Slovak words when dressed in your Sunday best. When something pleases you or is of good quality, calling it as good as honey is a nice way to praise it. Here are a few more hints on paying compliments.

One simple way of showing someone you appreciate them is through terms of endearment. Usually said between men are “si pašák!” and “si chlapík!” On their own, both of these appellations mean “guy”. But when said with “si” (you are) and the ever-important exclamation mark, they mean “you’re a great guy!” From the noun chlap is also the verb pochlapiť sa, to do a good job.

In this vein, but used for men and women, ,you can also say “si borec” (“you’re a champ”) and “si jednička” (“you’re number one”).

When impressed by a friend, you can use the trusty “ty vole” (literally “you bull”) and “ty brďo”, which the Slovaks I consulted said had no literal meaning. The meaning of these multi-purpose exclamations that concerns us today is “oh man” or “oh wow”, for example when someone performs a skilful athletic feat or does something pleasantly unexpected.

For sweet and touching words of praise, you can tell a person you have a crush on “som z teba namäkko” - “You make me soft”. To the person you look up to, there is “uznávam ťa” - “I admire you”. And a familial heart-warmer is “som na teba hrdý” - “I am proud of you”.

Often, though, we compliment people to thank them for helping us. There are many words to aid you when someone does you a favour. Say “si zlatý” to a man and “si zlatá” to a woman to say “you are golden”, and “si milý/á” to say “you are kind” to a man/woman. At work you might say “to je dobrá práca” (“that is good work”) and “to bolo veľmi nápomocné” (“that was very helpful”).

Say someone helps you unfreeze your computer. Show your gratitude with “si šikovný” (“you are skilled”). To up the ante try “nestíham z teba”, which translates to something like “I can’t keep up with you” or “you’re way ahead of me”. To get melodramatic, there is “si môj hrdina” (hrdinka to refer to a woman) - “you’re my hero” - and “zachránil si mi život” - “you saved my life”.

One of the limits of the compliment is met in the phrase “som z teba hotový”, literally “I am finished from you”, which means “you leave me speechless”. This can turn negative depending on how you enunciate it, meaning, approximately, “you kill me”.

The dinner table is a place where pleasing words are of high importance. To thank your host for a fine meal, start with “jedlo bolo výborné” (“the food was excellent”) and then move on to “si dobrý kuchár” (“you’re a good cook”). Once these are out of the way, take a deep breath and whip out “to bolo tak dobré, že ďalšie dva dni nebudem nič jesť, lebo tomu sa nič nevyrovná” - “that was so good that I will not eat anything for the next two days as nothing can live up to it”. Be sure you can pull this one off because flattery that falls flat could ruin desert.

Commenting on the way a person looks is another fundamental category of the compliment. To show appreciation of a friend’s clothes, you could say “máš super sukňu” (“you have a great skirt”) or “to sú parádne/geniálne nohavice” (“those are excellent/brilliant pants”). I know brilliant sounds strange, but do not worry - it does not mean the pants are highly intelligent.

Another comment you might hear in relation to your appearance is “no ty vyzeráš...” (“so you look...”). This expression can also be positive or negative, meaning either that you look good or that you look wiped out and worse for wear.

But let us stick to the bright side of things. When something is stupefyingly fantastic, you might want to say, “to je tak dobré, že z toho vôbec nechápem” or “that is so good I can’t even believe it” (literally “...that I don’t understand it at all”). I will leave you to imagine your own situation to meet this strong statement - nothing I can come up with is sensational enough.

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