Question about English in Czech R.

Discussion in 'Culture' started by MikeS, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. MikeS

    MikeS New Member

    Hello, I am doing research for a project for my college. I don't want to take much time, so I will just ask three questions. If any citizen/or former citizen of the Czech Republic wants to answer these questions that would be great!

    How many people speak English in the Czech Republic? Who speaks Czech?

    How does the Government use English?

    How is English used in Music? Are the choruses in English and verse in Czech?

    That is all. Thank You for your time. If you would like to leave your name with the answers that would be great too, however I understand if you don't want to. I'm only using these answers for a project.
    Thank You
  2. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    So, my opinion:

  3. MikeS

    MikeS New Member

    Thank You

    What I mean by the government question is whether or not the government uses English when conversing with each other.
  4. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    No! :) All ministers are able to speak czech :) (OK, honestly, I have never been attending government session, so this is only 99,99%-No)

    We have minister of foreign affairs, who is kind of austro-hungarian prince :) able to speak czech, english, german and french, and then minister of human rights and minorities, who is kazakh, but she speaks czech (with accent) as well.
  5. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Really strange questions :)

    In Czech republic it's same like in majority of other countries, native language is used for communication on all levels of society.
  6. MikeS

    MikeS New Member

    Well thank you for your answers.

    I guess the question was a little strange :lol:

    The book we have for this class "world englishes" makes it seem like English is spoken a lot everywhere. However, I know from my own research that English isn't spoken as much in Czech, and it's good to re-affirm that.

    Thank You again.
  7. gementricxs

    gementricxs Well-Known Member

    English is definitely NOT spoken everywhere. Czech rep. has a pretty good ratio of young people speaking English. Some west European countries are much worse in it. From my experience, lot of Erasmus students who come to study to CZ for a semester from Spain or Italy have pretty big problems speaking English.
  8. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    English is spoken everywhere (well almost), but definitely not by everyone, and is most definitely not an official language everywhere.

    Czech is the only official language of the Czech Republic (at least I don't think that Slovak has been recognized as an official language, since the break-up of Czecho-Slovakia), and as such all official business, including the workings of the government, are conducted in Czech.
  9. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Czech is the only official language, but Slovak is considered interchangeable with Czech from the legal point of view.
    Both Czech Republic and Slovakia preserved all the federal law unless it was replaced with a new one. Slovakia has a new language law, but Czech Republic has still the federal one, thus there is no need for a new recognition of Slovak.
  10. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the clarification, wer.
  11. Yerusalyim

    Yerusalyim Well-Known Member

    The further East you go the less English seems to be spoken. I have a hard time in Ostrava finding English speakers.
  12. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    OK, maybe there is less english speakers in Ostrava than in Prague or Brno, but I do not think this is much to do with east or west.
  13. Petr_B

    Petr_B Well-Known Member

    The thing is, most people here don't need English at all. For example; pretty much everything aired on TV is dubbed in Czech. Books are translated into Czech, it's not common to see wide offer of books in English in general bookstores. When you travel abroad to popular destination with a tourist agency, they provide a guide speaking Czech to take care of you.

    People who got their education prior to 1990's MIGHT have learned some English at school. Back then, Russian was mandatory and one could pick up another language at high school (as far as I remember, there wasn't the second foreign language taught at uciliste and less than 1/2 of population went to a high school). The choices were usually German (probably the most popular because you could at least use it in East Germany), English or French. The level of education was rather low (for example many teachers of English probably have never been to any English speaking country), so was the motivation of students - it wasn't likely you will ever be able to use English in your life (or so it seemed back in the 1980's) so it was just another useless school subject. Even if one learned some English at school, he/she usually forgot it fast because it was never used outside a classroom. If you don't use the language, you tend to forget it rather quickly and unfortunately, it's not like riding a bicycle - it doesn't come back fast once you start using it again, particularly if you were at a low level to begin with.
    So people who are in their late 30's or older often don't speak English well, if at all. There's a little incentive to (re)learn it for them, because they can usually get by without English, as long as their job doesn't require it (and generally speaking, most jobs don't require interacting with foreigners) or they don't like to travel on their own.
    Prague (or Brno or some popular tourist destinations) might be different in this regard, but I think a country-wide situation is like I've described.

    Young people are probably way different, seeing English is the first choice when it comes to choosing a second language now. Of course, cultural "invasion" of English media probably helps too - music or movies/TV series people download/stream off Internet with original voices in English. I think (I'm not sure) that English might have even become mandatory subject at elementary schools (or it will become one soon).
  14. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    True but, sometimes it doesn't take much. During my first trip to Prague, my friend and I were on Wenceslas Square looking for Jagr's Sports Bar (now gone I have heard) and stopped to ask directions from an older woman selling newspapers. "Kde je Jaromir Jagr Sport Bar?" I asked in the best Czech I could muster. I quickly got a a detailed explaination - In Czech. It must have been the dazed look on my face because she smiled and said in her best English "Straight, Straight, Left, Gold" while pointing. It didn't seem to make much sense but we took off in the direction she was pointing. Sure enough, we walked two blocks, turned left, and found a building with bronze (gold colored) trim at the entrance. It was Jagr's. Perfect. :D
  15. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    It works everywhere you go - you just need to know how to say "hello", "please", and "thanks" in local language. I allways try to know at least this three phrases, and just ask "Hello, please <name of the place I wanna go>." The person I was asking speaks in some local code, pointing the direction, and when stops, I say "Thanks" and follow the direction pointed.

    This worked in Greece, Turkey, France, Spain, Ukraine...

    If the language is easier to learn, "left", "right", "straight" and "where is ...?" are useful :).

    It is allways good to show an effort, people are allways willing to help, but shy if you ask them in english. But if you ask in broken "locallingo", they answer in "locallingo" too, expecting you understand it a little, and even if you usually don't, you can read instructions from where they point or look.
  16. dozmary

    dozmary Member

    I consider it good manners to learn the "minimum" - hello, goodbye, yes, no, please, thank you - of any country you visit. Especially if it's a language that is not widespread outside the area, like Czech.
  17. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I would say rather any other language than english :). In english it is not enough.
  18. dozmary

    dozmary Member

    I mean that languages like French and Spanish are taught in many countries so it is not uncommon that a visitor might know some of the language when they visit France or Spain. But Czech is pretty much limited to the Czech Republic itself so I would imagine Czech people are surprised when someone bothers to learn a bit of it.
  19. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Oh, yes, now I know what you mean. Yes, you're right.

    But in Barcelona, in minibus, local grannies was pretty excited when we were able (a little) communicate with them, as they only knew catalan and spanish. We knew enough to understand what we were told, and explain where are we from and what language we speak (not Russian! :)), they knew Prague, ask where we are going and helped us where to get out. Nice smalltalk. So you can impress people even in Spain :).

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