Tuesday, 9 March 2010

When No Means Yes

As you will know if you read this blog regularly my New Year's resolution this year was to spend 30 minutes a day teaching myself Czech (when I am in England). Well, I thought I'd better give you an update, so here it is:

I don't know how it is going - I have no idea whether it is going in. I find 30 minutes all in one go too hard, I am not able to concentrate or I get bored and go too fast - a sign of my advancing years perhaps. So I keep copies of my Czech lessons in both bathrooms and I read them for five minutes/ten minutes whenever I'm in there, which adds up to at least half an hour a day. I find I know quite a lot of Czech words and even some grammar, but could I use them in real life? Probably not. But I'm not giving up on it.

Today I have been writing a guidebook for the visit to South Bohemia I am organising. It includes a quick guide to useful Czech words - thank you, please, yes, no etc. Yes can be a surprisingly difficult word for English speakers. The Czech for yes is 'ano', but it is often is shortened to 'no', so you can see the problem. The word for no by the way is 'ne' and can be added to the beginning of verbs to negate them as in probably the most useful Czech word you can learn - 'nerozumim' which means I don't understand!


Stacy said...

My husband & I are wanting to learn Czech so bad! We'd love to come and stay atleast 6 months...maybe next three years? (waiting for youngest daughter to be old enough to travel easy)

I agree with English speaker having a hard time - imagine a Texan, who's learned a little Spanish. I want to say everything I'm learning in Czech with a Spanish pronunciation.

Can't wait to hear about your progress.

Stacy in Texas

Karin said...

My husband and I just returned from Prague where we stayed for 3 months. ((can you believe, we live on a Greek island, yet we chose to experience snow and cold? Well, a Greek island is VERY QUIET and BORING in winter, so Prague was a wonderful experience) Anyway, as far as saying "yes" in Czech, it was exasperating for me, because my husband always pauses in thought before answering yes or no. So he often said "uh...no!" and I never knew if he meant Czech "yes, or English "no"! And here in Greece, yes is "ne, ne" which sounds like the Dutch "Nay, Nay", so that our Dutch friends never know if we are saying the Dutch "Nay" (no) or the Greek "Ne" (yes). I often think of when my mother (in America)use to say to me, when I deliberated too long over a decision...."Just say Yes or No"! Life was simple then! Ha, ha.

I enjoy your blog, and we loved Cesky Krumlov! I envy your life!

Karin on Paros

Nicola said...

Hi - I've been studying recently using favourite Czech songs - such as rosu na kolejich. I'm also using CT24 a lot - the Czech 24 hour news station - which can be found online. Still struggling with sklonovani!

Anonymous said...

it is easy: short Czech agreement 'no' should be pronaunced shotly -'no', while English 'no' sounds longer or like'nou'

potok said...

Indeed it should be, Anonymous. But we English are so accustomed to no being no that it takes quite a brainshift to think otherwise, particularly as we are taught that the Czech for yes is ano and that is what we are listening for. But one gets used to it.


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