Foreigners trying to speak Czech

Discussion in 'Culture' started by Anna683, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    How do the Czechs view foreigners attempting to speak Czech? Do they really appreciate it?/do they find it a bit sad and pointless?/does it irritate them?/do they prefer the sound of nails down a blackboard?/, etc....?

    Please be completely honest! :lol:
  2. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    The vast majority of Czechs are honestly flattered that a foreigner would try to speak their language. Czechs are rarely critical when a foreigner makes a mistake--they may have a little laugh at a language faux pas, but who wouldn't? Besides, it's not meant personally. Having said that, however, there are some times when a foreigner's accent is so difficult to understand that it can be trying for Czechs. Even then, though, they typically will give you an honest attempt at understanding.
  3. Sigma

    Sigma Well-Known Member

    Don't be embarrassed about making mistakes and keep speaking at every opportunity you get. In my experience, I've found older people to be quite helpful/understanding and they tend to speak slower.
  4. petri

    petri Well-Known Member

    I´ve now been studying czech for one semester...
    Looking forward to at least make orders in restaurants...
    Hopefully there are not going to be too many missunderstandings. :D
    A few semesters more and I hope I can make real conversations too!
  5. McCracken

    McCracken Well-Known Member

    The first time I ever went to Prague, I was in a restaurant with some English friends and we decided that we should try to order our meal in Czech, just reading from the menu. Apart from our "In Flight Czech" CD none of us had ever seen or heard Czech before but we were determined to have a go.

    So, having cheated and found what we wanted in the English section of the menu (!), we then found the equivalent in the Czech section and had a couple of practice runs.

    The Czech waitress came over and listened to our attempts with great patience and then she turned to the English section and said, in English, "This would probably be better for all of us!!". But she said so with a wink and a smile!
  6. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    It is usually that way :)
  7. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    A friend of mine who had studied German for 8 years tried to order food in a restaurant the first time she was there, the German waiter exclaimed..

    "What!? ..... What are you doing!? Speak English!"

    Hopefully because I'm in a small town not too many people will have English and I'll be able to get a good bit of practise.

    It's good to hear people are patient!
  8. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    Well, so in general, trying to speak Czech is not that bad, right?

    I guess, I think, that it's better to have some attempt in Czech than start it in English (German, Russian etc). At least I would be much happier if a foreigner try to speak to me in Portuguese first (and only if it was clearly impossible to maintain a convesation, change to another language).

    I hope that by the time I visit Czech Republic, I'll be able to have some not complex dialogues if people are patient and if they don't speak rychle jako blesk!

    Na shledanou.:
  9. Jaybob

    Jaybob Member


    I've spent the past three years visiting czech (my wife's family and friends) and compared to Holland where we live at the moment I have always found the czech's to appreicate the fact that you are trying and also surprise that you know some vocab. Of course they sometimes smile or laugh but its often due to what you saying sounding 'Cute'

    In holland I found it completely different where people would openly be cruel when you attempted to speak Dutch as a forgiener and would often ask you 'can we speak English because your Dutch is so bad'

    Hence I will always use the czech words if I know them even in a sentence that is predominantly in English because I never feel self confident or fear of looking stupid.

  10. Polednikova

    Polednikova Well-Known Member

    Well said, Jaybob. But then again, I don't think there's any other nationality that can speak better, accentless English than the Dutch.
  11. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    Thank you Jaybob for your answer. It really motivates me, I would be very mmm "sad" if I go to a foreign country, make a effort to speak their language, and then someone say something too rude.

    Polednikova, well, I guess that the Brazilians who really speak English (and not only those who think that English is fancy, cool, etc) don't have too much accent. I cannot say about my accent speaking English... but I think that you could find some good accent(less) around here - off course, as in anywhere else.

    Na shledanou.:
  12. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Definitely go for it and try it in Czech. I've been to pubs with my english speaking friends and as someone said before the waiters are usually patient and like it. There are some exceptions though, don't let it ruin all your attempts. Go to a different restaurant next time.
  13. Ktot

    Ktot Well-Known Member

    I seem to be coming across an interesting dicotomy that whenever I need to ask for something even halfway complicated, I have to use English, and usually the person doesn't understand...but other times I am proud that I know the Czech and I ask for what I need in Czech and then I am answered in English. ...I wonder what an English accent sounds like in the Czech language (especially one as strong as I'm sure mine is.)
  14. Averell

    Averell Active Member

    actually my experience is that some people pretend not to understand when i try to speak czech. i have to repeat, explain (very embarrasing situation) and when they finally say the word their way i always feel that i wasn't that far off that someone wouldn't understand it at all. happened several times and was very discouraging.
  15. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    I don't think that they are pretending to not understand. Sometimes it's actually pretty difficult to understand foreigners speaking czech, the unknown accent makes a lot, also sometimes the words are stressed on a different syllable than they should have and so. All of that combined makes it sometimes really difficult to understand.
  16. Petr_B

    Petr_B Well-Known Member

    Actually, I've experienced similar situations as Averell did, only I tried to speak English and the English-native speakers couldn't get me. I believe that while my pronunciation was not perfect, it was pretty close to the real thing. Even more, all the Czechs around understood what I was saying. How is that possible? I think we can safely dismiss any "evil Czechs pretend not to understand very understandable Czech" conspiracy theory and go with the sad fact that sometimes our pronunciation may not be as good as we think it is, our accent can be too thick and it may be us who are at fault. :wink:
  17. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    It's just about the pronunciation and correct stress of the words.
    It's pretty common that czechs understand other czechs speaking english while native speakers might not understand. were just used to our czech accents.
    it might seem that others should have understand you, but that's not the case.

    its same with any other accents.

    last week i was with some people, few czechs, me and one english native guy who was learning czech, sometimes he would say some czech word and none of the czechs but me would understand him, just because im used to hearing that accent.
  18. Troll

    Troll Well-Known Member

    Once I met two American ladies in Rumunská Street and they asked me where is the Hotel Perry Neck (or Peri Neck), pronounced with strong American accent. I thought it was one of those new hotels that mushroomed in Prague after the Velvet Revolution. I answered that I knew no such hotel. A while after I was going along the hotel BERÁNEK which is old and well-known. I realized that the Perry Neck was Beránek in fact.
  19. pedro1974

    pedro1974 Well-Known Member

    usually czech really appreciate foreigners approccing their languagge
  20. Averell

    Averell Active Member

    ok, ok - i take back saying that it might have been on purpose. nevertheless it's still an embarassing situation for me sometimes. :(

    i can't judge it from a czech position, but in Germany i had to deal with people from countries like Turkey who sometimes speak a very broken german and still you somehow guess what they are saying. but maybe the czech language is indeed so different and depending much more on pronounciation than german. who knows...

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