Oct
22
2007

On Language…

Nemluvin cesky (I don’t speak Czech..)

*Justin made up these little cards with 25 Czech phrases and words and how to pronounce them, laminated them, and we carry them around. They are Awesome! Here’s the thing: even if I can say the phrases on the card just fine, I may run into the problem that a Czech person may then think I can speak Czech fluently and start speaking quickly to me. So what I like to do is to read the phrases off the card in an obvious manner with either a pained or hopeful look on my face. That conveys to them that really I know diddly squat in regards to the Czech language, but that I am trying!

*Flying to Prague on Lufthansa airlines (loof-THAHN-za)
instructions are in English (GB for Great Britain) and German (DE for Deutche):
GB: Life Vest Under Your Seat
DE: Schwimmweste Unter Ihrem Sitz

*There are some phrases you need to know to stay polite: Please, Thank You, You’re Welcome…. When a waiter/ess takes away your plate it’s kind to give a quick ‘thank you’. The problem for me is this: I want to convey that I appreciate their help, but “thank you” in Czech is “Dekuji” pronounced DICK-kwee. So, to me in my English-thinking mind, it sounds like every time someone is nice I respond with “dickweed.” It’s as if someone opens a door for you and in return you call them a jackass. So, I just smile really big each time I say “Dick-kwee”


*Some waiter/esses here are super nice and some super curt and give the impression that they are pissed off that there are tourists in their city. Our first night there, though, one complimented Justin on his pronunciation of “The bill, please” at the end of dinner. That made Justin happy. 
(CZ = Czech) GB: The Bill, Please
CZ: Za Platim, Prosim
(zah PLAH-tim, PRO-seem)


* In Czech, the language is
Cesky (CHEH-skee).
Yes = Ano (AH-no) and No=Neh
Thus, if someone on the street asks you if you’d like to buy tickets for a concert, have dinner at their restaurant, or exchange foreign money on the street (Uh! don’t do it!! We didn’t, cuz we read not to. Scam!) , it is better to say a direct “No” or “Neh.” If you falter and say “Uh, no” then it sounds like the Cesky “Yes” being “Ano” and confusion ensues.

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