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Czech language - facts and interesting facts

 

The Czech language, the official language of the Czech Republic, belongs to the group of Slavic Western languages, as does the Polish language. Thanks to this, Polish people can see many similarities and curiosities in Czech. The common Slavic roots make it easier for Poles to learn Czech than to learn languages from other families. Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at the Czech language, its history, grammar and specifics in order better to understand the culture and traditions of the Czech Republic.

About 11.5 million people speak Czech as their native language (about 0.16% of the world's population). Regarding the number of native speakers, the language ranks 83rd in the world.

Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic. It is recognized as the language of national minorities in Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Poland.

Czech belongs to the group of Slavic languages, specifically to the West Slavic subgroup. In the spoken version, this language has developed since the 10th century, and its oldest written credentials date back to the 13th century. In the late Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern era, the Czech language experienced a period of flourishing (it had, among others, a great influence on the development of the Polish language). Jan Hus played a significant role in creating the standard of the Czech language, reforming spelling by introducing new diacritical characters (the Hussite alphabet consists of as many as 42 letters). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Czech language stagnated and was superseded by the German language. The beginning of the 19th century was the period of the revival of the Czech language and the beginning of the formation of the modern literary language. Currently, regulatory issues are dealt with by the Institute of Czech Language.

The dialects of the Czech language are mutually understandable (Czech speakers also understand many Slovak dialects). There are also two common variants of Czech: the literary Czech literary (spisovná čeština) and the colloquial Czech (obecná čeština). These variations differ primarily in terms of syntax and style. There are no significant discrepancies between them on the lexical plane.

There are long and short vowels in the Czech language. The presence of diacritical signs distinguishes the former in the written language: diacritics (in the case of vowels á, é, í, ó, ý) and dots (in the case of vowels ů).

Another characteristic feature of the Czech language is the presence of very difficult-to-pronounce consonant clusters. An extreme example of this phenomenon is the word consisting of as many as six consonants scvrkl (shrunk). You can even create sentences without a single vowel, as the tongue breaker exemplifies. 

Czech belongs to the official languages of the EU.

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Czech alphabet

The Czech alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet with additional letters that contain accents and hooks. These are the letters: A, C, D, E, E, E, N, O, R, S, J, U, O, Y, Z. It is worth noting the different pronunciation rules of these letters. Although some of them resemble Polish letters with diacritics, such as "Š" or "Ž", others are unique to the Czech language, for example, "Ř". The sound "Ř" is a challenge for many Czech language learners due to its distinctive pronunciation. Mastering the Czech alphabet, including specific sounds, is crucial for learning this language.

Czech Pronunciation

Pronunciation in Czech can be a challenge for Poles, especially when it comes to sounds such as Ř, which is specific to this language. It is also worth remembering that some letter combinations have a different pronunciation, e.g. "ch" is read as [x], similar to Polish. The sound "h" is pronounced more strongly than in Polish, approaching the German "ch". In addition, there is no "ą" sound in the Czech language, which is characteristic of Polish. Mastering the specific features of Czech pronunciation is crucial for effective communication in this language.

Czech Vocabulary

You can see many similarities in vocabulary with the Polish language in the Czech language. Examples include words such as “horse”, “house”, or “table”. Nevertheless, there are also false friends, words of a similar form, but with different meanings, for example, "friend" or "ice cream". Knowing the similarities in vocabulary can make it easier for Poles to learn Czech, but be careful not to make mistakes resulting from false friends.

Czech Dialects

Several dialects in the Czech Republic differ from the standard Czech language. These dialects include Czech, Moravian and East Bohemian Silesian. These differences can be particularly noticeable in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Although these dialectal differences are not as strong as in some other countries, it is still worth paying attention to them when learning the Czech language to understand better and appreciate the Czech Republic's culture.

Czech Proverbs and Idioms

Czech proverbs and idioms are often very similar to Polish ones, resulting from common cultural roots. For example, the Czech proverb "He who digs another pit, falls into it" corresponds to the Polish proverb "He who digs holes under whom, falls into it". Learning Czech proverbs and idioms can be interesting for learners of this language because they allow a better understanding of Czechs culture and way of thinking.

Czech Literary Language

Czech literary language derives from the so-called Czech ancient language used in the Middle Ages. The Czech literary language began developing thanks to figures such as Jan Hus. Contemporary Czech literary language is based on the Central Bohemian dialect, which has spread thanks to printing and literature. Understanding the evolution of the Czech literary language can help in understanding the language, culture, and history of the Czech Republic.

Neighbouring Languages

The Czech language has many features in common with neighbouring languages, such as Slovak, Polish or German. Slovak is closely related to Czech, which means that people who speak these languages can often communicate easily. In the case of the German language, the influence is more evident in vocabulary and some phrases due to long-term historical and cultural contacts.

Origin of Czech

Like other Slavic languages, the Czech language is derived from the Proto-Slavic language, the primary language from which all Slavic languages are derived. The Slavs used Praslavic in the early Middle Ages, and its development was shaped by historical processes such as migrations and contacts with other languages. Understanding the origin of the Czech language can help you understand its common features with other Slavic languages and unique aspects.

The Role of the Czech Language in Former Czechoslovakia

During Czechoslovakia, Czech and Slovak were treated as equivalent official languages. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Czech became the official language of the Czech Republic, and Slovak became the official language of Slovakia. Despite this, due to a common history and close linguistic affinity, many Czech Republic and Slovakia people still understand both languages.

Czech language in the world

The Czech language is spoken by about 10 million people worldwide, mainly in the Czech Republic. The Czech diaspora also lives in the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany and Poland. In these countries, you can find communities of Czech emigrants who maintain their culture and language. In an international context, the Czech language plays a smaller role than other languages; however, learning this language can be valuable for those interested in the culture and history of the Czech Republic.

Czech in Technology

Although Czech is not as widely used in technology as other languages, many resources are available for learners. These include language learning applications, online dictionaries, information, and social networks. In addition, there are also Czech versions of popular websites, such as Wikipedia or Google, which can help learn the language and learn about the culture.

Czech scientific language

In the history of science, the Czech language has been used by many prominent scholars, such as physicist and inventor Prokop Diviš or philosopher and educator Jan Ámos Komenský (Comenius). Nowadays, the Czech scientific language still plays a role in the Czech Republic, although scientists often publish their works in international languages, such as English. Knowledge of the Czech scientific language may be useful for people interested in scientific research conducted in the Czech Republic.

Czech legal language

The Czech language has a rich legal tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, the Czech legal language uses specialized terms and phrases, the knowledge of which is necessary for people related to this field. Learning the Czech legal language may be important for Polish lawyers cooperating with Czech partners and for people interested in comparative legal research in the context of Central Europe.

Czech in music

Czech culture has a rich musical tradition, and Czech composers, such as Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák and Leoš Janáček, have created works performed all over the world. Czech contemporary music also uses the Czech language in song lyrics and communication between artists. For music lovers, learning the Czech language can help you better understand and appreciate the work of Czech music artists.

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Essential Chech Dictionary

 

English

Czech

yes ano    
no ne    
please prosim
thank you dĕkuji / dĕkuju
I'm sorry promiňte / promiň
good morning dobrý den
good evening dobrý večer
goodbye dobrou noc
good night na shledanou/sbohem
hi ahoj
how are you?  Jak se máš?
well Dobře    
My name is... Jmenuji se…
I don't understand Nerozumίm

 

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