Czech for Foreigners and for Czechs! | Halas Časopis studentů Fakulty sociálních studií. 32. ročník

Czech for Foreigners and for Czechs!

Do rubriky Okénka napsal Ali Türünz (Pondělí, 11. duben 2011)

The knowledge of English created basics for me in learning German and even helped me to make sense of simple texts written in different languages I didn’t speak, such as French. But no language could help me in Czech!

I remember when I first started my undergraduate studies in Istanbul, our professor told us to forget everything we had learnt at school until that time. Starting the university marked an epistemological shift in my life. However, in terms of linguistic communication, my relation with the rest of the world had never drastically changed. I was able to speak fluent English and a bit German as foreign languages. It was not a big challenge for me to learn English because I started learning it at the age of twelve and moreover, we all grew up with with the MTV television network.

When I started learning Czech, I also realized that I had to forget all my linguistic memory in my native tongue, Turkish. I remember our teachers yelling at our ears that two or more consonants never ever come together in a syllable at elementary school. Learning English or German had not shaken this knowledge, deeply embedded in my mind. Then, I realized that most people unfamiliar with Slavic languages are usually shocked when they encounter the Czech Language. An American friend of mine visiting me in Brno even prepared a photo album on the internet, called “Where the all vowels have gone?” that summarizes his days here.

There are funny similarities between the Turkish and Czech languages. What is used mutually in Turkish and Czech absolutely in the same sense is “hele” (when you point something to somebody). However, it etymologically derived from Persian to Turkish; not from Czech. “Dostane” means “friendly”, used especially in the news related to foreign affairs. “Vole” refers to nothing rude in Turkish! It simply means a “volley-kick” in football. It is even the name of a beer brand.

Someone who is not familiar with Slavic languages easily gets lost in a Czech text, which does not contain much familiar vocabulary. The foreignness of words, once combined with the most complicated grammar in the world really does not make it easy for the learners. After a number of efforts of learning Czech grammar from coursebooks, I gave up and started to memorize new words. I would like to repeat here the universal cliché: “The best place to learn speaking the language is the pub”, and in the Czech case with beer, of course! But, I still haven’t found a satisfactory answer on the best place where one can learn how to write in Czech. Well, that is why I have written the whole article in English!

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