Slovak on the basis of Czech?

Discussion in 'General Language' started by Anna683, Sep 23, 2009.

  1. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    What's the best way of developing an understanding of Slovak on the basis of an understanding of Czech? Are there any books/websites/other resources which show the main differences between the two languages?
  2. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    The Czech saying “as useless as Czech-Slovak dictionary” could be quite illustrative here. :D

    The fact is that Czech and Slovak are so similar that Czechs and Slovaks have minimal problems with understanding each other, but also enough different to make the learning of the other language difficult. Therefor most of the Czechs and Slovaks don’t waste time with learning it.

    To make your understanding perfect, you have to learn some differences in vocabulary and to be aware of some false cognates. You needn’t to learn the different declension, conjugation or phonetics – you can simply guess.

    To be able to speak properly, you have to learn all this stuff and it is quite demanding, or you can simply live among Slovaks and pick up the language gradually.

    As for the resources, there is a lot of works on comparison of Czech and Slovak, but this is rather scientific stuff. There is only a little of popular or internet resources and if there are some they are only superficial. Czech-Slovak dictionaries are rare, but they exist. I’m not aware of some comprehensive internet dictionary. The best internet solution is to use monolingual dictionaries for both Czech and Slovak and to translate it via English:

    Czech dictionary
    Slovak dictionary
    English-Czech dictionary
    English-Slovak dictionary

    Internet is full of Czech-Slovak dictionaries, but they all are rather concise, mostly only with the vocabulary which is significantly different, the best one is perhaps

    Wikipedia has a concise comparison of Czech and Slovak (en, cz).

    If you want to know more you have to be more specific. I’m pretty sure we can answer here any particular question in regards of Czech and Slovak.
  3. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for your reply, wer. It is very informative and useful. It is reassuring to know that the languages are so similar and that developing an understanding of the other language is achievable for a foreigner. Those links look very useful and I have bookmarked them.

    Thanks again! [​IMG]
  4. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Hee hee we could make a personal list of differences we came across here.

    I know that Slovak has the word "Marquee" in common with English but Czechs don't.. because of a (terrible) joke I told that only one person in the class got.

    also convert all your řs to rs and speak slightly quieter.

    I spend a lot of time reading the instructions on shampoo bottles and so often the only difference will be an C instead of an S or a long Y instead of a short one...

    Also Slovak doesn't have a vocative case, as in, when you call someones name it doesn't change.. Only 6 cases.. that has to be nice, right? Except vocative is the easy one.. if only they didn't have a Dative!

    Byki has slovak flashcards as well. It's my favorite flashcard site
    here's a preview
    If you know the czech colours you'll see this is just like a different accent.
    the nice thing about the website is with the program you can slow down what they say.
  5. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    That site looks interesting. Thanks for the tip!
  6. Petr_

    Petr_ Active Member

    I would say it otherwise. The fact is that Czech and Slovak are so similar that older Czechs and Slovaks have minimal problems with understanding each other. Czech youth is no longer used to hear to Slovak newsman/movies and that makes them more difficulties to understand Slovak.
  7. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I don't know, I can understand a lot of Slovak, there are so many words in common. (Well not a lot, but you know, just slightly less than understand Czech)

    For survival Slovak there are plenty of books and phrasebook available. And beginners Slovak the book "Colloquial Slovak" (No idea if it's any good)

    But beyond that there is almost nothing available, there is close to nothing available even in Czech! So if an English speaker wants to become proficient in Slovak, after their first year I think they have only two options... Study Czech or marry someone from Slovakia!

    Czech and Slovak are very similar, 100 times more similar than Czech and Polish, and I'm told even Czech and Polish people can understand each other when they have to, maybe not every word, but certainly most things with a bit of practice.

    Of course there are differences, and ideally this person wants to learn Slovak, but that option isn't so available so this is her best alternative. Maybe not every word will always be understood but she'll be able to communicate and have conversations and learn about Slovak and Czech culture and lifestyle.
  8. TomKQT

    TomKQT Well-Known Member

    This is the first time I hear this saying, in my whole life 8)

    (Sorry for reacting on such an old post.)
  9. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Never did I.
  10. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    I've only been living here a year and a half and I've heard it twice!
  11. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Then I wonder why google gives you for both

    "as useless as Czech-Slovak dictionary"


    "Zbytečný jako česko-slovenský slovník"

    0 answers :)
  12. TomKQT

    TomKQT Well-Known Member

    The same with "Užitečný jako...." and some other combinations :wink:
  13. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Odd.. even just ""jako česko-slovenský slovník"" doesn't bring back anything related.

    One of the times I heard it was here, the other time was a student in class.
  14. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    I think this is a popular myth. The Czech youth is in more frequent contacts with Slovak culture (music, books, movies, PC applications, web sites…) that the older generations with past contacts only.

    Then, it must be less common than I thought. 8)
  15. Petr_

    Petr_ Active Member

    This is my own experience. I have read only one book in Slovak. I can agree, that some Slovak musicians are popular in Bohemia, but what movies, PC appl., web sites are you referring to? I can´t recall a single one.
  16. TomKQT

    TomKQT Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's a myth, I've seen many studies etc. about this.

    Slovak young people still hear Czech on TV, because there is MUCH more Czech films than Slovak. They still understand our language.
    But - in the past, there was quite a lot of Slovak language on Czech TV, now there is almost none (just Česko-slovenská superstar). Czech young people really have problems with this language.

    And you even say they have more frequent contacts with Slovak culture now? How could this be true?
    Music? Absolutely the same as before. And btw, only some music listeners are paying attention to words!
    Books? First - youth & books? Excuse me. Second - more now than in the future? How?
    Movies? Where? What movies?
    PC applications? I don't think I've ever seen one.
    Webs? Who's visiting Slovak webs?

    Btw, I don't know how it's now, but when I was at school, we had quite a lot lessons about Slovakia (grammar, pronunciation, literature...). Is it still the same? (I cannot tell.)
  17. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    This sentence gives me the impression you don't know many young Czechs and most of what you're writing is purely theoretical. ;)
  18. TomKQT

    TomKQT Well-Known Member

    You are right, I don't know many young people.
    I know a teacher who teaches them czech language and literature.

    I think that't much better in this case :D

    Of course young people read. But absolutely not more than in the past. They read much less. But this was also topic of many surveys and studies.
  19. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    My students, who love reading, tell me they despise the Czech Literature syllabus, that it is filled with many books which seem to them quite dull and old fashioned and irrelevant and which they have no choice but to study just because the authors were Czech. Apparently the focus is very much on grammar and facts and not interpretation and feeling.
    If nothing is being done to nurture the love of literature then it is interesting any people still love it at all! Not surprising though :)
    We had a similar problem at home, where students weren't given enough choice about what they studied, there were choices, but the options were always chosen by the teacher and not us.
    Also and study takes a lot more out of the same part of your mind that wants to read, so not everyone can study for hours and then sit down and read a book, most people would prefer to do something that doesn't involve intense thinking.

    Anyway there's not much point in us talking about it as we'll never know because neither of us is a "young" Czech!
  20. TomKQT

    TomKQT Well-Known Member

    You're right. And even if one of us was a young Czech, it wouldn't help much, because there always can be one young person who reads two books per week and another one who only heard about something called "a book" :D

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