Foreigners trying to speak Czech

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

  1. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    Isn't there a big population of people from Turkey in Germany? Aren't you then accustomed to hearing the turkish accent in german language?
  2. Averell

    Averell Active Member

    well, yeah, that's true. it got even so bad that now german kids who grow up in certain parts of big cities adopted that accent
  3. Katie/Katerina

    Katie/Katerina Active Member

    I am an English girl learning Czech and I agree with gementricxs... non-Czechs, when speaking Czech, just can't get the accent and pronunication right a lot of the time. I've been taught, bit by bit, by my boyfriend and his friends and family. Whenever I try and speak Czech around people other than them, there are words that other Czechs just do not understand... I might as well be speaking Japanese! Added to this is the fact that I get a little nervous and tend to rush through the words, which, with Czech, is not an option.

    Some of the letters, for me, are almost impossible to pronounce clearly, so I will probably alwasys have a bit of a Czech 'lisp' with my 'r's and 'z's. :oops:

    But more importantly, however 'bad' I sound, the Czech's I've met- apart from a few grumpy service staff in pubs and restaurants- really like foreigners attempting to speak Czech. I'm guessing the few who 'don't' like it are probably reserved to the service staff who may work near the centre and have been inundated with drunken tourists making constant requests for 'pivo'. (Yum)

    Apparently- probably, obviosuly- foreginers speaking Czech have clear accents depending on where they come from. My Czech friends love my Czech-English accent, but at least if this is the case, if you're trying your Czech anywhere, people will realise you are an English-speaker if you need any help! :)

    Mluvit Cesky? Samozřejmě! :D
  4. Torgut

    Torgut Active Member

    I can't say how hard is for foreign people to get the right accent, but I would like to highlight a few points:

    1) I suppose a lot depends of how old are you when you start learning Czech. Human brain lose capacity to learn languages along the years, and that's especially efective to the "accent" part.

    2) I suppose it also depends of your original language. Some will be more distant from czech phonetics. I don't speak Czech, but I learnt a few words and sentences. And some friends tell me I'm the closest they ever heard in foreigners to the correct accent. By the way, I'm Portuguese.

    Finally, I would like to mention that the Czechs are the more receptive people I met regarding the ability to get right awfully wrong said words. In my experience, Czechs manage to understand even when you are saying something very badly. You should try the Spanish people. Portuguese and Spanish are very close languages; I can easily read a book in Spanish even if I never learnt the language. Lots of words are plainly common. Still, if I try to say these words they will not understand.
  5. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I always wondered how close is Portuguese to Spanish.

    As close as Czech and Slovak?
    As close as Czech and Polish?
    As close as Czech and Russian?

    something in between?

    The same with Spanish/Castellano and Catala.

    I will start learning Spanish soon, so I would like to know. By now, all three of them seems to look pretty same to me.
  6. Torgut

    Torgut Active Member

    It's hard for me to say, not knowing any of the slavic languages. However picking bits of info from my Czecs, Polish and Russian friends I would say portuguese is as close with castillian as czech with slovak. As close to italian as czech to polish. As close to french as czech with russian.

    Actually Portugal and Castilla shared a common language up to the 15th century. Only after that linguistics pushed apart the language talked in both kingdoms. And, keeping constant borders and beeing free of strong foreign influences, these two languages kept a soft evolution, thus the present simillarities.

    It's a different story with catalan and castillian, as catalan have crossed influences, namely from french and local old dialects (as far as I know). Not to mention basque, which is a completely diferent language with alien roots.
  7. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    This is maybe question rather for czech native able to speak spanish and portugese.

    But your opinion, what do you think of the most eastern romance language, romanian? Do you understand at least a bit of it? For me italian or spanish are much more understandible than romanian (I mean understandible as I pick up much more words).

    I always thought slavic language group is closest, then romance, and languages from germanic group being most different from each other (when comparing three major language groups in Europe).
  8. Torgut

    Torgut Active Member

    Oh no, definitely not. Romanian is a far relative, like a remote cousin you never met. Here and there, one can recognize a word, but the similiarities are technicalities for linguistics experts. Not reading or hearing. It's a completely alien language for us, Portuguese, Italians, Spanish or French. This said, accepting Romanian as an exception, I don't think Slavic languages are more close to each other that latin based languages.

    Ah! One side note: however, Romanians emigrants in Portugal - and there are thousands and thousands - manage to learn the language in a couple of weeks. After a few months most of them are able to speak almost fluent Portuguese. It seems that after all there is more in common than it initially seems.
  9. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I am surprised about reading of similarity between portugese and french, as for me french seems to be much more complicated then portugese, spanish or italian.

    So, do you think, typical portugese, or spanian, who is not interested in languages, is able to read newspaper in french, and get at least what this or that article is about (as I am in any other slavic language)? Or read a book in the other (portugese book in spanish and otherwise) without problems?
  10. uptonogood

    uptonogood Member

    not even most americans can speak accentless english. except for the people from the midwest. go figure.
  11. Torgut

    Torgut Active Member

    Well, I have a theory: there is more in here than linguistic maters. It's also about how a person develops his mind, the exercise regarding foreign languages. I mean that for people with large population, the need to get in touch with other languages is so small that they lose the ability to establish simple mental mechanisms of automatic translations. Not sure if you are following.....

    For example, in Portugal, we subtitle the movies. Watching movies is therefore a constant exercise... even without noticing we associate what we read with what we hear. Then we get in touch since we are born witg foreign music. We go online and we need to get info in foreign languages. Then we develop interest in a given subject and we have to read in foreign languages. Etc etc etc.

    The oposite hapens with Spanish, French, Germans, Russians. They have huge markets and they don't need to contact or practice other languages. Therefore, for a Portuguese would be easier to understand other romanic languages than the oposite.

    So, yes, a common Portuguese can read a lot (basically everything) in Spanish and get the general ideas of a reading in Italian or French. Probably the oposite will be harder.

    Now... regarding what you say, I'm curious why u think French is harder than Iberian languages. To me seems the same. Grammary very similar.
  12. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Pronunciation is very different than written word. When watching film in french with french subtitles is much harder for me to follow, to match spoken and written word (not saying I understand what I hear or read) then in Spanish, Italian...
  13. padraig

    padraig Active Member

    Interesting post, this on foreigners speaking Czech! I have been trying to learn the language for the past eighteen months, on and off, and I find that when I do want to make myself understood, I find it best to speak as confidently, loudly if you want, and as slowly as possible. If you feel a little intimidated and mumble nervously then you’re done for!
    My problem is in understanding a rapid response from the native. Although my personal experiences have all been positive ones.
    I have some difficulty in remembering my vocabulary ( then that is probably down to my age ) but I find that I seem to be able to make myself clearly understood. I try it out on my Czech friends and they politely say it is fine.
    I found a particular site very useful;
    Brown University On-Line Czech Literary Anthology
    a series of short stories or articles read in very clear Czech, slowly with very clear pronunciation. I simply listen and follow the text and though I don’t understand what they are saying I am becoming familiar with stress patterns and sounds. I can actually repeat some of them without understanding it. I have been trying to find translations of the texts and even posted a request, but no luck so far.
    I am sure it is not the best way, but I find simply listening to a good speaker very helpful even if you do not understand them.
  14. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Padraig..sounds like you are doing very well with your czech.
    That's probably good advice about the speak confidently and don't mumble nervously.

    Your comment about that Brown University site.
    I think it's a great resource too.
    Can read text as they speak.
    Have you listened to the story Šlépěje by Karel Čapek?
    It's a very amusing short story.

    At first the reader sounded very fast but now I can pick out the different words, but I still have to concentrate.
  15. padraig

    padraig Active Member

    Thanks for the response, scrimshaw. I haven’t got down the list to the Slepeje story as I keep listening over and over again to some of the earlier ones. I do wish I could find a translation however.
    I'll keep hunting
  16. PGN

    PGN Well-Known Member

    I'll throw in don't get discouraged.

    I don't speak Czech, the other 6 people that live in this house do....

    While I find it very easy to talk in Czech to my wife and children in my version of Czech, many Czechs don't get it.....simply saying shounka (ham) will give you the thousand yard stare from many Czechs except if you are ordering a pizza in the Republic.

    This isn't a problem just remember your surroundings, you may need to act the word out in order for Czechs to understand what you are saying.

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