Most serious errors by non-native speakers?

Discussion in 'General Language' started by wmeredi, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. wmeredi

    wmeredi Member

    I'd like opinions: what do Czechs consider the most serious errors (most noticeable, most irritating, interfere most with communication) in non-natives' speech, both in pronunciation (for example, the dreaded "r + hacek" or short/long vowels), and in grammar (e.g., if we forget and use the nominative form instead of the proper direct-object form). Thanks for feedback!
  2. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    The Czechs are high-demanded in languages to themselves ! With respect to foreigners, they aren't clinking cantankerous.

    Specially, they understand double-quick what you want to say in a whole long-wrong sentence you say.

    But they prefer the perfect more of course ! :D

    "Vlk zmrzl, zhltl čtvrthrst zrn."
    Doman je doma !
  3. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I think the most irritating to the Czechs is when you call the Czech Republic "Vychodní Evropa" (Eastern Europe). Not exactly a pronunciation or grammatical error, I know. I agree with Doman, that generally the Czechs are very quick on the uptake to understand what a foreigner is saying even with bad pronunciation and grammar (I think that they have just gotten used to it). In general they are also very tolerant of and even flattered by foreigners trying to learn their language, and therefore tend to be very helpful when asked for assistance with the language. Sorry, I kind of dodged your original question. It's just that I couldn't think of any specific examples off the top of my head.
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    It varies depending on the native language of speaker. A common mistake of English natives is mixing of dative (~ direction) and locative (~ location). It isn’t irritating, but it’s quite confusing, since both forms are often correct - only the meaning differs (sometimes even the meaning of verb depends on it - e.g. zajít za dům × zajít za domem).

    English natives have often problems with different translations of verb “to go” (jít × jet).

    And what could be irritating? Maybe mixing of male and female forms. A man could be irritated being called Mr Nováková. :D
  5. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I often find my mistakes are more amusing to my Czech friends than irritating. :oops: :lol:
  6. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Now that wer mentions it, using prepositions and their corresponding case endings in general cause a lot of havoc and confusion. Many prepositions have multiple meanings (at least in translation to English or perhaps other languages) dependent on the context, and often can take more than one declension depending on the usage. This is not unique to Czech, though. All the other Slavic languages I have studied are similar in this respect, albeit just to be confusing use other permutations of the same prepositions often with different declensions from Czech. :evil:

    Of course, the worst problem with prepositions is that there are so many instances and different contexts/constructs where they are used that it is difficult to memorize them all.
  7. wmeredi

    wmeredi Member

    I know what you mean! When I lived in Prague for a year, I once went to the pet food store around the corner to buy more food for the fish I was taking care of. I said to the clerk, mixing grammar error with vocabulary error, "Potrebuji jidelna pro ryby"! She smiled -- really, really big -- and then explained to me the difference between requesting a dining room for my fish and food for my fish.
  8. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    I do not think anything is really irritating but you mention also interference with communication. In that case, I think the most problematic is the pronunciation. Not that I have ever met a foreigner learning Czech (which is maybe the problem) but foreigners here in Prague sometimes ask me where is [fill in your prefered monument] and they, especially the English speaking, tend to distort the name so much that it is almost incomprehensible. I know that Czech pronunciation can sometimes be tricky, as Doman's personal signature proves, but the main problem is that they apply English orthography to Czech inscriptions, so one must deduce what word that poor foreigner is trying to imitate.
  9. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    When you speak a non-native language, confusing and embarrassed are naturally. I didn't know the word "Aha " meant only as " Oh yes, I understood !". First time when I bought a perfumery flasket, I showed my finger to that, and the clerk said to me "Aha". I meant "aha" was Czech for perfumery flesk and remembered it well and didn't consult Dictionary.

    The next time, I was trusted in my Czech, I went to the shop and talk to the clerk with self-confident " Prosim vas, chci koupit tri Ahy " (I'd like to buy three ahas, please !) She misunderstood in a moment, and then, she was laughing almost hysterically. I was a harlequin with my correct grammar. :D
  10. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    I completely agree, you wouldn't have problems with your english (or even czech) to be understood, but with names (of streets, hotels, monuments, stations etc. etc). Usually it is better to write (or spell) than try to pronounce it several times 8) 8)
  11. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    now I'm curious, please someone translate his signature.
  12. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

  13. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    "čtvrthrst" is a recent update I proposed and it means roughly "quarter of handful"

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