Saturday, 17 July 2010

Dream Language

People regularly ask me, "So do you speak Czech, then?"

The answer is no, but it could increasingly be: "No, but sometimes I understand it." My attempts at learning the language have in many ways failed, but somehow (in a way I don't quite understand) it is creeping into my subconscious.

I now know this for a fact rather than a fancy, because a week ago I actually had a dream some of which was in Czech. Am I certain it was Czech? No, as I didn't entirely understand what was said in my dream, but I understood bits of it. Nevertheless I rather think that my brain has been processing Czech without me realising it.

I certainly can understand sometimes when a) it doesn't matter, b) the person speaks slowly and c) there are enough words that I do know and the context is such that I can probably guess a significant number of the rest.

But speaking Czech - that is another matter. However even here I am beginning to detect signs of progress. I had to speak Czech a bit for the tour I organised and I was even complemented on my pronunciation of the famous Czech soft r - which apparently I pronounced perfectly. There is a downside to this: in the museum at Zumberk, as I had asked for the tickets etc in Czech, I was expected to translate for the guide. And did I manage it - do I hear you ask? Yes, some of it anyway.

Yesterday I drove to England from the Czech Republic and I got linguistically extremely confused. Although German is officially my second language (I have an A level in it), I kept speaking in Czech both in Germany and France. Then on the ferry I actually managed to apologize to a Brit in Czech!

Ah well, all these signs seem to indicate that I am getting somewhere with this infernal language at last.

2 comments:

Vivien said...

Yes, Czech must be very difficult to speak, as is Russian, which I did to A-Level and a bit beyond. With all those declensions you can't just SAY something, as you can in English, French etc. To say "It's on the little table in the front room with the books" you have to slot so many words into their right cases!

Always interesting to read your blogs about the Czech Republic.

Hels said...

My husband is Czech, but he moved to Australia with his parents as a young lad in 1951. In any case, they left their Czech home illegally, and he was afraid he would be called up into the Czech army, if we went back for a visit.

Once the government changed, his mother was very keen to go back, to see her home, the restaurant she worked in, Joe's school etc etc. She spent a few wonderful weeks in Prague, Jablonec, Karlovy Vary etc with us in 1994, then died later that same year.

Spouse and I had a wonderful few weeks in Czechoslovakia (pre-split) but I was particularly pleased that my mother in law saw everything she wanted to see, before she died.

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