There are not many people learning Czech. Which reasons should they have? Czech is spoken just in one country, you can visit Prague also in English and there is no sea in the Czech Republic. But sometimes this birdsong-language engages somebody’s attention and he opts to know it closer. I – as a native Czech speaker – am excited about it and I like to talk with foreigners. But to be honest, Czech requires some hard work. See for yourselves:
• English alphabet contains just 26 letters, the Czech one has 8 more: Č Ď Ch Ň Ř Š Ť Ž However, you don’t have to worry about the accent – in Czech the accent is always on the first syllable.
• There are words without vocals in Czech, because R and L are also word-forming. If somebody wants to amaze you with the sentence „Chrt pln skvrn vtrh skrz trs chrp v čtvrť Krč.“ (Greyhound with smudges invaded through a clump the Prague quarter Krč.), don’t be afraid – this is not how Czech people speak. On the other hand – there are commonly used words without vocals e.g. krk (throat), čtvrt (quarter), prst (finger), zmrzl (he freezed) and so on.
• Quite important is also the sound Ř. Apart from Czech, it also occurs in the Upper Sorbian language. (As far as I know.) You can read more about this tricky sound on the blog by a German student. But nothing compares to your own experience, of course.
• Czech has 7 grammar cases and each one has a certain ending that varies according to the 3 grammar genders. Thanks to this you don’t have to use so many prepositions 😉
• There are a lot of borrowed words in Czech, e.g. televize, autor, charakter, centrum. Czech language is enriched by other languages, let’s mention robot (the word robot was used by Karel Čapek in his novel R.U.R. for the first time.) and polka (Czech national dance in two-four rhythm).
• Czech is an official language just in the Czech Republic, e.g. for approximately 10 million people, but you can meet Czechs also in Romania in the region Banat. How is it possible? Nearly 200 years ago some Czech people went there to find better conditions for farming (in that time they moved within one country: Austro-Hungarian empire) and their offspring are still living there and they speak perfect Czech – despite the today’s 1000 km distance from the Czech Republic.
If you really want to learn the Czech language, you must know that Czech is not a lingua franca and you can make yourself understood just in the Czech Republic and with some extra effort in Slovakia. Czech has difficult grammar rules and pronunciation but Czech people know this and they really appreciate the foreigners that are learning Czech! Furthermore, travelling through my country while speaking Czech is much better than listening to English guides 😉 Czech is a challenge!