Root Metaphor

Učit se – to tame, to acclimate, to habituate, (from PS zvyknǫti)

Illustrative Example of Root Metaphor

czech ucit color


Czech: “Učit se” ... derived term, combining “Učit” (teach) with reflexive “se” (self, so derived meaning is “to teach oneself”) ... from Proto-Balto-Slavic au kī tei and Proto-slavic *vyknǫ/ (meaning to acclimate, to habituate) ... learning in Czech is in a web of associations about “getting used to things"

Common metaphoric phrases

Common phrases about learning
  • Musím být připraven na zkoušky! I must be prepared for the exams!
  • Opakování matka moudrosti - Repetition is the mother of all wisdom
  • Co se v mládí naučíš, ve stáří jako když najdeš What you have learned young you’ll find useful in the old.
  • Žádný učený z nebe nespadl. No wise man ever fell from the sky.
  • "Nebuď labuť," říká dotyčnému, že nemá být hloupý   "don't be a swan" says one person to another, meaning "don't be foolish or stupid".
  • Chybami se člověk učí. A person learns through their mistakes.
  • Abys mohl běhat, musíš se nejprve naučit chodit.“ In order to be able to run, you must first learn to walk.
  • Kuře učí slepicy The chick is teaching the hen to scratch.
Common phrases about teaching
  • Příklady učí (táhnou). Examples teach (examples pull).
  • Cvik/učení/cvičení dělá mistra. – Practice makes one a master.
  • I mistr tesař se (někdy) utne. Even a master carpenter sometimes cuts himself.
Common phrases about knowledge
  • Znalost jazyků je branou k moudrosti. Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.
  • Velkým lékem na ignoranci ... je znalost jazyků. The great remedy for ignorance ... is knowledge of languages


Other similar words include Lithuanian jaukìinti, jaukinú (meaning “to tame” or “to domesticate”), Latvian jaûcêt (meaning “to accustom”), Old Prussion iaukint (meaning “to exercise”) and Sanskrit उच्यति (ucyati meaning “to be accustomed to”). Similar terms include nauka (science teachings), pouka (moral of a story) navjkb (habit).
  • Učiti means to give, to instill in someone the basics of skill and dexterity
  • Učiní is learning and it means apprenticeship or doctrine.
The phrases associated with knowing languages as 'a doorway to wisdom' or 'a remedy for ignorance' reflect the continual occupation of the Czech Republic by neighboring countries. Being able to communicate with invaders was a necessity of survival.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Francis, K., Davis, B., Sabbagahn, S., & Bohac-Clark, V. (2021). “Učit se” (Czech) in Metaphors of Learning in Different Languages.

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