I don’t have a clue

Welcome to another edition of SoundCzech, where you can learn Czech words and idioms through song lyrics. The expression to listen out for today is nemá ani šajna, which is a colloquial way to say that someone doesn’t have a clue. The title of the song is “Dítě školou povinné”, or Schoolchild, and it was written by the 1960s legendary Czech duo Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr.

Photo: Kristýna MakováPhoto: Kristýna Maková The song speaks about the wild imagination of children. For example children can see animals in ordinary pieces of furniture or they can conjure up a secret passage leading from their house to the street. Which is something the caretaker doesn’t have a clue about. Nemá ani šajna. Listen again.

The simpler way to say nemám ani šajna would, of course, be nevím – I don’t know. You can also say nemám tušení – I don’t have an inkling. Or nemám zdání – I don’t have the slightest idea. Or even nemám páru – literally I don’t have steam, but again meaning I don’t have any idea.

Besides nemá ani šajna, there are other interesting expressions in the song, such as the title itself. Dítě školou povinné is literally a child having the duty to attend school, or simply a schoolchild. The expression lidé světa znalí – is a similar grammatical construction meaning people who know the ways of the world.

So today we have learned the expressions dítě školou povinné – a schoolchild, lidé světa znalí – people knowing the ways of the world and nemá ani šajna – he or she doesn’t have a clue. All three can be found in a single song by Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr, the legendary hitmakers of the golden 1960s. Until next time na shledanou!