How well is English accepted?

Discussion in 'General Language' started by bruceaj, Mar 2, 2007.

  1. bruceaj

    bruceaj New Member

    My wife and I plan on spending 2 weeks in the Czech Republic and have absolutely no knowledge of the language. I probably will have learned a few phrases, hello, thank you, please, Do you speak English, by the time I go. Will I have a major problem communicating with people? At least a couple of days will be in a town where my wife's grandparents came from in 1906, namely Petrovice.
  2. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Generally speaking you will have less problems in larger cities and with younger people 8)
  3. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    And in general, most Czechs will appreciate your trying to speak their language, even if it is only a few phrases.
  4. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Vast majority of (especially younger and those in touristic services) people do speak English (although not very well). The older, the lesser is their knowledge of the English. There are quite a few people who speak German as well and not so many (especially younger girls because it is now quite à la mode) who speak French (and no, I am not a girl, and yes, I do speak French, but on my school the ratio of boys:girls studying French is about 1:40). I do not think you may have problems. What I have to recommend you, learn how to pronounce Czech inscriptions because the foreigners tend to distort it and when asking someone, it is often incomprehensible (I remember some Germans asking me where is the "river Vltava" and I deduced from their pronunciation of it that they seek some Moldavian guns shop :lol: ).
  5. bruceaj

    bruceaj New Member

    What do you mean by "inscriptions?" Road signs? Villiage Names? My first glance at the Czech language is that it is NOT very close to english, including the fact that some of the consonants include the vowel sounds. In the English language, words without vowels are difficult. But, that will NOT stop me. I will learn SOMETHING!!
  6. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    By inscriptions I mean whatever is written (no, not books... but names of tram/subway stations, names of sites you want to visit, etc.). i only recommend you to learn how to pronounce it (not really know what subtle nuances of meaning the words could sometimes have) in order to get where you really want.
    Czech orthography is very easy to learn (there are some peculiarities when you want to write in it, but generally, it is infinitely easier than the English orthography). The problem is that you will be used to very complex orthography of English that will distort your perception of the Czech. The more difficult problem is Czech phonotactics (i.e. which groups of phonemes may be together and which not) because Czech has sometimes very large consonant clusters that are, for a foreigner, nearly impossible to pronounce (and no one will blame you if you distort this, but to say [ei] where there is just [a], or [eu] instead od [o] maz be problematic).
  7. bruceaj

    bruceaj New Member

    Okay.. Thank you.. Now, can you recommend a "Learning Tool" that I can use to learn how to read and pronounce these items..
  8. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Bruce, you can learn the basics on our sister site, Local Lingo.
  9. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    I am sure, there is one somewhere in the forum. I would recommend you the international phonetic alphabet but I doubt there is anyone in your whereabouts that could teach you about it:))

    so briefly:

    short vowels:
    a - like in word "sun"
    e - "neck"
    i/y - "bit"
    o - "nod"
    u - "put"

    long vowels
    á - like british pronunciation of "dark" (without R and with long A)
    é - ---"--- of "dare" (always no R and long vowel)
    í/ý - like in "meek"
    ó - like british pronunciation of "north"
    ú/ů - like in "bloom"

    ě - like "e" but with palatalisation of preceding consonant (so generally like [je])

    simple consonants:
    p/t/k - always like in English but without aspiration, so like in words "spit, stick, sky" (but in Czech the aspiration does not matter, only sounds unfamiliar, but everyone will understand you)
    b/d - like in English
    g - only as in English words like "dig", NEVER like in word "generally"
    m/n - like in English
    f/v - like in English (V not really but no one will notice...)
    s/z - like in English
    r - does not exist in English; like in Italian or Spanish "rr" (apicoalveolar trill) - vibration with the tip of tongue on alveoles; always pronounced; no one will blame you if you use English variant, but you would surprise pleasantly
    l - like in English
    j - like English Y in "yield" (NEVER like in "John")
    h - like in English but your vocal chords are active
    x - like combination K+S
    w - like V
    q - like K+V

    with hook:
    š - like English "sh" in the word "English"
    č - like English "ch" in the word "chew"
    ž - does not exist in English, voiced variant of Š, like in Frech words "je" or "gestion"
    ň - like N in word "New York"
    ď - like D in word "dew"
    ť - unvoiced counterpart of Ď
    ř - does not exist in any language but Czech, some obscure kashubian dialect and probably even more obscure language of Mesoamerica; foreigners try to imitate it by pronouncing Czech R+Ž or R+Š; no one will blame you if you cannot pronounce it, the Czech people are proud that no one can

    ch - does not exist in English; like "ch" in Scottish word "loch"; velar fricative, something between K and H
    ti/tě - like as if it was written "ťi/ťe" (but it never is!)
    di/dě - the same with respective counterparts
    ni/ně - ----"----
    anything+ě - anything+like as if it was written "je"

    That is all. May seem complex but it is not. Consider American English "phrases":
    Caesar leads three people either to mere...
    George made gestures and grimases while reading
    or G.B. Shaws "ghoti" which is a transliteration of "fish": gh = f (laugh), o = i (women), ti = sh (nation)
  10. bruceaj

    bruceaj New Member

    Thank you for the help with the phonics. I've printed it out and well use it as a learning tool.

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