Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Sign and signature. First of all pronunciation: /sájn/ and /signiče/. Now meaning: signature means "podpis", and there are typical sentences like "Put your signature here, please." A signature tune
is a song or melody which everybody associates with a specific singer or band. "Sign" is more tricky, because it can be a verb, "to sign", when it means "podpísať" ("Just sign on the dotted line"),
but more often it's a noun, "a sign", and then it means "znamenie" ("Black clouds are a sign of rain", or "What star-sign are you?"), or "znak" ("The Sign of Zorro"), or "značka", as in "dopravná
značka" (road sign), but not "obchodná značka" (trade mark, or brand). People who can read and write have their own signature, but illiterate people have to put their sign on a document, usually a
shaky sort of cross like this: X
This week's question is in fact about answers, in particular the way people react to questions when they don't really know the answer. In Slovak you say for example "z brucha", which would be "at a
guess" in English, or "taking a shot in the dark". The English idea of "talking from your stomach" is a kind of entertainment provided by a ventriloquist (from Latin, literally "bruchovravec") such
as Jeff Dunham.
It's possible to answer a question with an "educated guess", when you know something but not everything, and you say: "Off the top of my head, I'd say…" Another way of responding in Slovak is
"spakruky" or "ledabolo". These are fantastic words, but I suspect they're not used so often these days. There might be an up-to-date English equivalent, though, in the catch-all,
"couldn't-care-less" response "Whatever" - "She just tossed her head and went (i.e. said) like, whatever."