BEEN AROUND THE WORLD, DON’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE
by Emmy Weiner (Kenyon College)
February 8th, 2015
Who knew that Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me” could be so relevant? Well, you said it, Jason…after two weeks of intensive Czech, I certainly do not speak the language. Sure, there have been improvements, and I (probably) didn’t fail the test I took on Friday, but, guys…Czech is hard.
First of all, pronunciation. Whoever created this language has some severe vowel aversion and decided that life would be better if consonants ruled the world. I’m sure you think I’m being dramatic, so let me give you a few examples:
ice cream- zmrzlina, neck- krk, to shower- sprchovat se, Thursday- čtvrtek, separate- zvlášt
Next complaint: double negatives. Co nikdy neděláte? Translation: What do you never not do? Meaning: What don’t you do? Um…what? The grammar geek in me (and let’s face it, she’s a pretty big part of me) wants to cry and/or die when I try to make sense of the phrasing of that question. If someone asked me something like that in English, I think I’d just tilt my head to the side and stare judgmentally at said question-asker until either A) the question was rephrased, or B) he or she got offended by my hostility and walked away.
Final thought on language: gender. There are actually a few examples of this, but I’ll just tell you the one that I find the craziest. Men and women have different last names. So, if a man’s last name is, for example, Sysa, his wife and daughters’ last name would be Sysova, implying some form of male ownership. Alright, feminists: go nuts.
And, now, update time. Life in Prague is still pretty great, and I find that I am constantly baffled by the beauty and novelty of everything I see. My sense of direction is absolutely miserable, but I’m starting to get familiar with specific areas (like where I live and where I go to school). There is, however, a lot more exploring to be done. Really, I want to try enough of everything (restaurants, cafes, bars, stores…everything), so that I can confidently pick my favorites. I’m still honeymooning hard (remember the culture shock phases?), but that could very possibly end tomorrow with the start of classes. BUT my classes actually have the potential to be pretty cool, and I’ve heard great things about the FAMU professors (and the book written by my main screenwriting teacher is kind of awesome)…so who knows?
And that’s all I have for you. I know long distance communication is not a strength of mine, so I apologize to anyone I haven’t been keeping in touch with. Hopefully these posts will serve as an adequate update until we see each other again. Na shledanou!