One of my favorite parts of teaching English is to provide examples of and explain the meanings of the many different types of colorful language that is possible. Idioms, similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, spoonerisms, innuendo — it’s all good stuff that can usually be mapped through linguistic research to some place and some point back in history.
This type of colorful language comes up all the time in native-English conversations. I didn’t think this was true before I started teaching English, but now that I am speaking with Americans on a daily basis, I am shocked at how often we talk about a “ballpark figure” or how something is “up in the air” or how our publicity will be “word of mouth”.
More to the point, colorful language is useful when you talk about the same thing over and over again. It is hot in Brno and hot weather is a topic that people always want to talk about. If you want to keep your sanity, you need to find new levels of description to tamp down the annoyance of the lame small talk.
So, instead of “It’s hot”, “It’s sweltering” and “It’s sizzling”, here are some others:
It’s hot as Hell.
It’s boiling hot.
It’s a scorcher.
It’s hotter than blazes.
It’s burning out there.
It’s hot enough to fry an egg on a stone.
It’s hotter than a stolen tamale (Southwest America)
It’s awful selsery (Midwest America)
It’s wicked hot (New England)
It’s training grounds for down below (American Southwest)
It’s sticky-icky-licky (Southcentral Los Angeles)
It’s the sun! Quick give me the factor 30 sunblock! (England)
It goes on and on and often gets more borderline profane:
I’m sweating in spots I didn’t know I had.
I’ve got jungle crotch.
Czech, like every language, has its own creative phrases. It uses the “hot as Hell” and “It’s burning” phrases. I don’t know too many others off the top of my head (which is an interesting idiom in itself); I’m sure there are readers who can add some in the comments below.
I did, however, develop my own it’s-hot-out-there Czech phrase a few years ago when I met the older-woman gossip of my apartment building. After being sucked into yet another meaningless conversation, I agreed with her assessment of the heat with the off-the-cuff retort: Fakt! Kozaty počasí!
Her reaction — a mixture of shock at a strange off-color phrase and the accent of my Czech — was priceless. I figured I was on to something.
I’m not sure how to translate kozaty počasí without being overly vulgar, but I can explain it: When it’s hot outside, women wear more revealing tops and, well, kozy, the Czech word for goats, is also a slang term for female breasts — therefore, hot weather means less clothing, more cleavage and kozaty počasí.
Feel free to use it, maybe not with your grandmother or mother or wife, but it is useful to scandalize the gossipy neighbor.
In any case, it is hot out there and it is good to have more than one response to the inevitable small-talk conversations that will include the weather.
Today, however, you may consider avoiding the fire descriptions.
It is, after all, Jan Hus day.
I hope that this column will provide thought-provoking observations of local life that will be interesting for a Saturday-morning read. If you have any suggestions or comments, please pass them along to email@example.com.
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