Realistic for foreigners to speak Czech fluently?

Discussion in 'General Language' started by Anna683, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    I'd be interested to know whether any of you here know of any foreigners who actually speak Czech fluently (i.e. idiomatically, grammatically correctly and at a reasonable speed, even if they have a slight foreign accent). I'm thinking in particular of foreigners who have not grown up in the Czech Republic or gone through the Czech school system. Do you think it's a realistic prospect for them to be able to converse fluently in Czech?
  2. jpkrohling

    jpkrohling Member

    It's not easy, but it's possible. There's a TV show with an Italian guy who speaks fluently Czech and you can notice his Italian accent :) But I don't remember his name, nor his show's. If you are interested, I can try to find it.
  3. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    I believe it is called "S italem v kuchyni"
  4. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    The word fluent has different meanings for different people. You'll have to be more specific.
    Going by the normal defintion of speaking flowingly without umms and uhhs then I know a few and I'm one of them. However the better you get, the more you realise that you just can't reach the level of those darn native speakers no matter how hard you try!
    If fluent for you means as a native speaker with just a slight accent and no mistakes then I don't know any and think it's only possible for maybe other Slavic speakers who have studied Czech very hard.
    I think you mean for those that start from the beginning maybe aged 20 at the earliest.
  5. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that is what Anna means. A foreigner who has not had the benefit of learning Czech in regular grammar school. Already having an established language and then trying to learn another.
    There are crucial years when the child is exposed to a language and is able to 'absorb' it, for lack of a better term.
    After that learning a language is almost impossible, I'm thinking of wild children, children raised in horrific circumstances and never exposed to language.
    Probably the 'foreign' child introduced to the language for the first time in early primary school has a good chance of speaking like a native. At least I would think so. But only a native czech would be able to say.
    But it is a good question.
    If hribeček can speak without ah's and umm's, I would call that fluent.
    S Italem v kuchyni. So did he teach how to cook Czech faire or Italian?
    I'm curious Hribeček, if you speak so well, at what age were you introduced to the czech language for the first time?
  6. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    He is very good, but not speaking like a native. He makes a lot of grammatical mistakes (rather problem with vocabulary than with grammar itself, he simply fails to identify the right model for some words).

    Yes, here.

    There are many foreigners who speak relatively good Czech (time to time some grammatical mistake, problems with advanced vocabulary and foreign accent). It’s easily achievable for the native Slavic speakers, but even other foreigners can manage it.

    Accentless foreigners are very rare breed, even the Slovaks. Right now, I can remember only one Slovak (Ladislav Chudík), one Sorbian, one my Slovenian coed, one German professor of Czech literature, one Georgian and one Chinese from my town.
  7. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    He teach us to use Italian ingredients, mainly extra virgin olive oil. :D
  8. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Ha!!! 2:47 to 3:10 on the first episode. The background music is from my favorite movie off all time. A so called spaghetti western. Directed by Sergio Leone, starring Charles Bronson, Jason Robard, and Henry Fonda and the beautiful Claudia Cardinale. 'Once upon a time in the west.'

    Zdá se mi, že ten italské kuchář mluví česky velmii dobře, ale co (o tom) vím já?

    Nikdy nemůže vařit italské jidlo bez (a tohle je jen odhad) zvlaštně čistého olivového oleje.
    Mohl ten chlap ale opravdu vařit jeleno s jablkem? Pochybuji to. Nebo vepřove s knedlíkem? Jen maminka to umí.

    Moje maminka vařila něco, o co většina lidé jen můžou snít.
    Večeře z smaragdového ostrovu. Uvařené hovězí konserva, želí a brambory.
  9. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    I was introduced to Czech at the age of 26! I studied intensively for 2 years whilst living here and speaking a lot and then moved away for 2 years and had just casual usage (watching films, writing emails and some convo mainly when on holiday here a few times) and then I moved back here in September and have studied hard again since then cuz I'd like to be as advanced as possible.
    I do um and ah occasionally of course, even native speakers do and I make mistakes sometimes with cases and word order and sometimes make the wrong word choice. My pronunciation is my biggest problem.
    Anyway, I'm nothing special, as I said, I know a few others like me and at least 2 (a Spanish language enthusiast who has lived here for about 5 years and an American who has lived here for about 15) who are better than me.
    As Wer said, it's not so uncommon.
  10. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Hribeč 26 you were well past those "formative" years. So you did really well to master a whole new language.

    Byl jsi zřejmě velmi dobrým žakem.
  11. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Thanks, but I think 'master' is too strong. For me, to master a language is to feel as comfortable in a language as you do in your own and know everything about that language and maybe even know stuff that natives don't know but still be recognisable as a non-native due to a slight accent and peculiarities in your way of speaking.

    By the way, what is your level of Czech because you write very well (maybe fluently!) and if you can speak like that too then you're not far off fluent.
  12. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    My level of czech is, how should I say it, minimal, somewhere between poor and horrible.
    I have a pretty good grasp of the grammar and sentence structure and can put together some sentences, but when it comes to speaking I would fail miserably. Believe me, I could not hold a conversation.
    I use the czech dictionary a lot.
    But I learn mostly by the red corrections in my posts.
  13. Alexx

    Alexx Well-Known Member

    Do you actually have oportunity to speak czech? From using "would" and "could" I guess not (at least not often). I think you underestimate yourself, you would make grammar mistakes, who does not, but your vocabulary is extensive and guess you will be fine one day you come to visit us :).

    Btw I recently noticed something what I considered mistake in czech restaurants - they write "wi-fi free" on their doors, instead of "free wi-fi", which I think means almost the oposite (like in smoking free, drug free, wi-fi free (zone)...). Am I right or mistaken?
  14. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    May be they say exactly what they want - there is no wi-fi in the pub 8)
  15. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Alexxi..You are right, the 'would' and the 'could', express that I am talking about a hypothetical. I do not have the opportunity to converse. So for me it is pretty much just written practice.
    But it is a challenge that I like.

    If I were to one day visit you all in Česko, I would try to speak your language, but it would surely sound odd. :) But I could live with that(It wouldn't bother me)

    Yea...maybe when they say Wi-fi free, they are bragging that they do not have wi-fi there. But then they could have it backwards.
  16. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    that is a very encouraging post. So it is possible! I don't need to know it's easy, I just need to know it's possible! I suppose they had a Czech parent or something though?

    *It's offensive to refer to people of a lot of different nationalities as singular nouns in English, more offensive with some nationalities than with others, but never very nice, so it's safer to use an adjective. The plural is okay "A Chinese man" but "the Chinese" (all of them)
  17. Anna683

    Anna683 Well-Known Member

    Lots of interesting posts in this thread! It's good to hear that speaking Czech reasonably well is possible for a foreigner -- and hopefully not just for those who have a few billion extra brain cells!

    I agree about accentless foreigners. They can be a bit spooky. But there do seem to be people who have such a talent for languages or such a good ear that they pick up not only the language but the accent like a sponge. I once met an Austrian woman who sounded (at least, to me) as if she was an Irish native -- she spoke English perfectly with absolutely no trace of a foreign accent. She had an Irish boyfriend, however, so presumably benefited from intensive coaching!
  18. kibicz

    kibicz Well-Known Member

    Do Třebíče x V Třebíči :-D
    To Třebíč x In Třebíč
  19. Ctyri koruny

    Ctyri koruny Well-Known Member

    Huh! I need to get my ears checked. umph. what a language.

    (and maybe i'll get it right next time, this is maybe why i make mistakes intentionally, so no one will correct the things I think are right and I won't have to deal with the fact they're wrong! ))
  20. Splog

    Splog Member

    It is certainly possible for a foreigner to speak completely fluently in Czech, but it does seem very rare. Perhaps the best I have seen is Eric Best - the American journalist who is often invited on Czech news programs to debate rather complicated political issues. His vocabulary is extensive, and his grammar perfect. Even his pronunciation is excellent, with just a trace of an accent. Of course, he has been in the Czech republic for something like 20 years. So, the journey is likely a long one.

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