How Was Czech Written before Jan Hus?

Discussion in 'General Language' started by gfross, May 7, 2007.

  1. gfross

    gfross Member

    I understand that Jan Hus introduced the various accents into the Czech writing system and that before him the long vowels were written as double vowels, e.g., aa, ee, ii, etc., and č was written as cz, etc. I may have misunderstood the brief account that I read about Hus, so correct me if I'm wrong.

    I'd like to be able to write Czech on some Internet websites that don't allow the Czech alphabet but are limited, instead, to U.S. English. I thought that I could use the pre-Hus way of writing Czech, but I'm not that familiar with it.

    For example, how would I write letters like š ě ů ?

    Thank you.

    Gordon Ross
  2. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Don't care much about and write without diacritics. It would be better understood than in the old style.
    Not having the possibility to use the diacritics we leave it away.
    8) 8)
  3. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Karel is right. Just write á as a, š as s etc...

    Both Hus and pre-Hus Czech were very different from today's language.
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Just a note:

    Don’t try to help us by using some of the diacritics. We need the complete diacritics or no diacritics at all!
  5. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    But add the context, without it we might be lost 8)
  6. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    And, for God's sake, do not try to write in a manner like "*Dobryy den, toto je zkouszka prsedhusovskeeho pravopisu a jeho veszkeryych moszhnostii v modernii czesztinie". It looks terrible.

    And just to add: there was no official orthography before or after Hus, it was only the matter of actual scriptor's decision. Some wrote today's "š" as "sz", others simply as "s" and some as "ss" or "sch"... I mean, even in a single scripture one can find more versions of graphical expression of the same sound. Just do not try it.
  7. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    ... and for those of us, who are trying to correctly place diacritics, but make mistakes? :oops:
  8. gfross

    gfross Member

    Of course, it would look terrible to someone who has read and written Czech according to the conventions (and they are social conventions, not "rules") of modern Czech orthography. However, what you have written above does not look "terrible" to me at all since I have been studying Czech for only a week and am not used to, nor have I any aesthetic appreciation yet for, standard Czech spelling. I can read what you have written just as easily as I can read standard Czech spelling. In fact, the way you have written the sentence above is a very helpful pedagogical device for me, especially as regards the distinction between long and short vowels. And I can type such a sentence far more easily and much faster on my U.S. English keyboard than I can one with standard Czech spelling (using Microsoft's keyboard layout for Czech).

    My original question dealt with the typing of Czech on websites that allow only the lower ASCII characters (no accent marks). You all have given me my answer -- type Czech without the accent marks on such websites -- which I will do.

    However, since I find it incredibly difficult to remember whether a Czech word has a long or a short vowel, I'm going to write doubled vowels instead of an accented vowel when I do my homework (not, however, when I'm communicating with Czechs). I'm studying Czech on my own, so I need all the help I can get. All my life (I am now 70 years old) I have used the acute accent to indicate either stress (as in Spanish) or the quality of the vowel (as in French); never have I used it to indicate vowel length. When I write doubled vowels, I remember that the vowel is long. When I write an accented vowel, I may remember it later on or not -- mostly not.

    Thank you for this information! It's something I wanted to know. I received my degrees in linguistics, so I am very interested in information like this. :) By the way, who made the "official" decision with regard to modern Czech orthography, and when was it made? Just curious.

  9. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, I guess it's question of terminology, but we have official Institute for Czech language, which codify rules for Czech language. There is book with name "Pravidla českého pravoipisu" - Rules of Czech grammar.

    On other hand - fact is, that nowadays Czech republic hasn't "language law", like had in past or like our neighbour Slovakia has.
  10. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Maybe compressed history of Czech language will help: ... h_language
  11. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    The Institute for the Czech language has no special legal status (relating to the language). You can respect it or not, it is only your personal choice.
    As for the book, in a democratic state everybody can edit any book, it is only a bussiness.

    So the orthography is really only a convention in our country. You can freely invent your own innovative orthography, use it and even you can edit it as a book. But many people believe that there is obligation to follow the Official Rules. It was not true even before 1989. But I must admit that the school children and some employees are expected to strictly conform this convention.
  12. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, try it for example in elementary school ;)

    Expected is nice eufemism :)
  13. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    The school children are not free in this particular.

    V tomto směru žāci zākladnīch škol nejsou svobodnī.
  14. gfross

    gfross Member

    How interesting! I wasn't aware of this. Thank you so much for telling me. There is a lot more I would like to know about the Institute and about the concept of a "language law," but those topics are beginning to veer away from my original post, so I will start a new thread dealing with them.
  15. gfross

    gfross Member

    Thank you very much for this reference! I just read it, and, yes, it helped a great deal.
  16. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Of course those ARE rules. I have some linguistic education as well and am aware that the nature of language is a convention, it is true, but this convention is somehow... well, as Humboldt wrote "secret" (unspoken) and is very very strong so if you do not respect it, no one will understand. Of course I know that this orthography may be helpful for someone, but it is just not used and for a Czech person, it looks really weird (and o the first look, one would consider it the Polish). The problem is, that one conceives the written words as images (you can see it well if you accidentally misspell a word but it still begins with its first and last letter, you can easily recognize it no matter how much the other letters are confused, "for emxalpe tihs secntene souhld be colmtepely unbesrdantadle") but if you use different graphemes, it is lost and the reader does not conceive the text as words but rather distinct graphemes. it is unreadable.

    I do not really know where the problem is... in Spanish, the accute means the irregular accent (accent which is not on the penultimate, if I am correct), in French it designates usually that the "e" is closed and narrower, which are very different qualities (even on the plans of phonetics as the latter is segmental and the sooner suprasegmental). In Czech it designates another category, the cathegory of length. I do not see if there is a difference if you write two letters or an accute, you still must remeber where it is. Oh, no... There IS a diffeerence. A major difference. If there isthe accute, you unambiguouslyknow, that the vowel is long and no other. If you write it as doubled, you can never know, whether it is long or really doubled, as there are of course words in Czech, that have two same vowels (and those vowels are often separated by a glottal stop which is not marked in the orthography), as "kooperace" pronounced either as [ko?operatse] or [kooperace], but almost never [ko] (there is a very little but audible difference) and most of all a very important, I would say essential Czech word you cannot even exist without, that contains THREE same vowels: "dooorat" ("do-oorat" as to "finish the action of "oorávání"; "o-orat" something like "to plough around":))) which is pronounced [do?o?orat]. Well, I admit I have not given very convincing examples, but understand that it is important to distinguish in Czech, whether the vowels are two short or one long (of course, if there is "dlouhyy", you never encounter a word with double "y" but the "o" is quite often doubled as it is part of both the word stem and the prefix).

    I apologise to all other users for their possible incomprehension to my post, but it is an answer to a user who admitted his linguistic education, so I suppose he has no difficulty :D
  17. gfross

    gfross Member

    Thank you, Eleshar, for your very helpful reply.

    I can understand that an experienced reader of Czech would see words (or phrases) primarily as "images." As a beginning reader of Czech, I still see them mostly as graphemes, especially since I am reading them not only for their meaning but also for the correct pronunciation.

    My original question was how to write Czech on a website that does not allow diacritics. As a result of the help that all you kind people on Local Lingo have given me in regard to this question, I understand that I should simply type the Czech word without the diacritical marks.
  18. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    This can be easily overcome by the diaeresis sign like in English, e.g. coöperation (I know it is not mandatory in English).

    Czech without the accentus acutus:

    Rozeznaavaame samohlaasky kraatkee a dlouhee.
    Muoj bratr doöral a vypřaahl koně.

    And without the caron (háček/haaczek):

    Rozeznaavaame samohlaasky kraatkee a dlouhee.
    Muoj bratr doöral a vyprzaahl konje.

    And with the macron instead of the acute accent:

    Rozeznāvāme samohlāsky krātkē a dlouhē.

    I think it is unambiguous and perfectly understandable.
  19. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Great, and now distinguish between "odjeli" (they departed) and "oděli (they clothed)? Or how the pronunciation of "djaabel" (ďábel - devil) will be distinguished from "odjakzhiva" (odjakživa - from time immemorial) or "konje" (koně - horses) x "injekce" (injekce - injection, shot)??? Will you introduce further diacritics to your lovely diaeresis? :? And the macron... what a lovely sign... I do not even know whether there is a language that actually really uses it and has it on its keyboard :lol:
    No, no, no... please, do not use substitutes for diacritics, really don't. If you do not have any diacritics, just write it plain, we are well used to that as sometimes even our word processors (mostly cell phones) cannot work with diacritics (or the letter takes too many "places"). And if you want to work on the pronunciation, use IPA, SAMPA or some approximative transcriptions as I do.
  20. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    Besides Old Greek and Latin (which use the macron occasionally) it is Latvian, for example.

    The diaeresis is not mine.
    The trick is that the words with double vowels are very rare in Czech (doopravdy, neexistovat, naaranžovat, ...) so the diaeresis sign would be ten thousands times less frequent than the acute accent sign used in the current orthography.

    Doöpravdy neëxistuje jinyy zpuosob jak psaat dlouhee samohlaasky?

    The ambiguity is a common problem with the digraphs.

    in Polish - the digraph rz is pronounced like /r/ + /z/ in some words (e.g. marzlina)
    in English - surely there are compound words where sh is pronounced like /s/ + /h/
    even in Czech - ch is pronounced /c/ + /h/ in bachamr, sechamr (very rare words)

    I think the ambiguity problem with potential digraphs in Czech is solvable, too. But I have no time for a comprehensive analysis.

    Read carefully all relevant posts (especially the 8th post from the beginning)!

    Why such affect?

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