I have what it takes – do you?

Welcome to a fresh edition of SoundCzech Radio Prague’s Czech language course in which you can lean new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s song is by the rock group Natural and is called Já na to mám.

Photo: Prokop HavelPhoto: Prokop Havel Já na to mám means - I have what it takes. The phrase is either used to express confidence that you can handle a job or are up to a difficult challenge or else it suggests that you are stinking rich and can easily afford whatever you fancy. In this case the singer is referring to his packed wallet – much as the former Social Democrat party boss Jiří Paroubek did when he gave stunned journalists at a press briefing in Prague a look into his private finances and possessions, saying “ no insult meant ladies and gentlemen, but who among you has what I do.” Kdo z vas to ma has since become a popular catchphrase in the Czech Republic.

There are several colloquial phrases you can use to say that you are extremely well off – among the most frequent you may run into are jsem v balíku or mám naditou prkenici – meaning you are rolling in money or have a packed wallet. When you are rolling in money you are able to žít na vysokej noze –to live high up –literally to live on a tall foot – and enjoy the best of what life has to offer – dopřát si to nejlepší or in more vulgar terms mít se jako prase v žite – to live like a pig in a rye field.

Making money sometimes means you have to be street savvy – or as the singer says – já se vyznám v tlačenici – I can hold my own in a crowd. Sometimes you may hear an abbreviated version of this as “ten se vyzná” meaning he knows what’ s what. Or “ten se neztratí” meaning – he’s not going to get lost in the world.

To be fair – já na to mám –or its short equivalent mám na to need not always have boastful connotations, especially when you use it to encourage someone else. If a child is hesitant to try out some new skill one can say “jdi do toho – ty na to máš – go for it – you have what it takes, you can handle this. Or you can say it to yourself when the intricacies of the Czech language get you down. Don’t give up – ty na to máš.

Each Sunday, participants will be able to vote in our new series Hit of the Century, covering 100 years of music in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. (More)