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A poem for children

A well-known, and relatively simple, poem for children by František Hrubín

Princeznička na bále

František Hrubín

Princeznička na bále,
poztrácela korále.
Její táta, mocný král,
Honzíka si zavolal.

Honzíku, máš namále,
přines nám ty korále!
Honzík běžel za horu
nakopal tam bramborů.

Vysypal je před krále:
Nesu vám ty korále!
Větší už tam neměli,
ty už snědli v neděli.

princeznička, f. - diminutive of princezna, a little princess
bál, m. - a (dance) ball, usually less fancy than ples
poztrácet, perf. - to lose something in steps or iterations (from ztratit - to lose)
korále, plural m. - beads
mocný - powerful, mighty
král, m. - a king
mít namále - to be in trouble, a close call, a narrow escape
nakopat, perf. - dig up, kick (from kopat - dig, kick)
brambor, m. - more often brambora, f. - a potato, bramborů - (partitive) genitive plural
vysypat, perf. - empty, spill, dump, pour

February 20, 2019



The little princess at the ball
kept losing her beads, one by one they'd fall.
Her daddy then, the mighty king,
called for young Jack to come a-running.

Your very last chance, Jack, shall this be!
Bring us those beads immediately!
And so Jack ran on fleeting toes
beyond the mountain, and dug potatoes.

These he poured before the king:
Here are those beads you bid me bring!
These were the biggest of the bunch,
the rest were eaten for Sunday lunch.


Zahálka je čertův polštář...


Thank you, great indeed!


These kinds of thing make Duolingo so so valuable to someone trying to learn the language. Especially a Chicago grandma with a Czech grandson. Thanks so much and more please!


poztrácet, perf. - to loose something in steps or iterations (from ztratit - to loose)

ztratit is 'lose', not 'loose'


Cheers, I make these spelling mistakes from time to time.


The lose/loose mistake is so ubiquitous among English native speakers that it's a badge of honour and sign of native proficiency to make it :-)


"lose" is pronounced (in IPA): luz

"loose" is pronounced (IPA): lus

But yeah, I do see the spelling mistake from time to time, mostly from lose->loose, not the other way usually.


Ah, if only it were about the pronunciation! :-) The Great Vowel Shift has much to answer for.

I think there's an entirely natural tendency for the mind's eye to visually rhyme that long /u:/ in lose with the doubled O in choose, snooze, zoos, moos and kangaroos, and indeed loos as the plural of toilets ;-) . As someone teaching his own young child to read I find the error eminently forgivable.

Those who progress some way in Czech will soon enough encounter the corresponding Czech bugbears of y/i and s/z usage, and the orthography of voiced/unvoiced consonants. And here again one can talk about "native" types of errors, as foreign learners tend to approach a language with its written form immediately presented to them, whereas Czech children learn their tongue by ear long before they have to read and write the words. Kids will often write things like dup for dub (oak tree), let for led (ice), or lef for lev (lion), as that is what they hear. While the foreign learner will tend to make exactly the opposite mistake in pronunciation.


What a beautiful poem. I love it. Keep up the great work.

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