leden 2010

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Tosho the Terrible

If they are good in English ASK then how to say things in Czech.

I constantly ask my students what the words I hear in Spanish mean.

This is how I came to understand the major words for ass: tracero(behind), nalgas(butt cheeks) and nachas (ass). Each has it's own usefulness. And while culo may mean ass in Italian it means the specific ass-hole in Spanish.

I am still confused by culero and punllado but I have puto, cabron and bendejo down.

Who knew before they asked?

So ask!


Well, yes, of course, Tosho. I always ask about words which seem, somehow, to be especially significant to me. How do you think I learned to say "I like hairy legs?" It's easy to remember things like that! For instance, the word for "moustache" is "knírek". No problem!

The problem is, in Czech, there are seven cases, which change according to what place a word occupies in a sentence. Nouns (even proper nouns and NAMES), adjectives, and prepositions all change form for each of them, in bewildering fashion. Additionally, there are masculine animate and inanimate, feminine, and neuter nouns, all of which present themselves differently, and also affect the forms of every word surrounding them. In fact, there is a different verb form, even, for if a woman is speaking, rather than a man.

So, in Czech, you can know all the words for ass you want, but actually USING them in a sentence to converse with a Czech person about whom you are maybe feeling a little nervous, and who is looking at you expectantly, having just delivered himself of a sentence in which you know maybe two or three words, but aren't totally sure about the preposition, and are wracking your poor, stupid brains for the main point of it all? That's still absolutely impossible without having memorized a huge amount of variable grammar, no matter how many words you ask for.


Ah, foreign languages! Among my very favorite subjects to study, but I too run into the inability to speak in more than the most rudimentary of sentences with very simple and seemingly random vocabulary, and I often waste precious time trying to construct a thought from English in a very literal manner instead of just learning the proper idiom in that language. If prepositions or articles stymie me, I typically try to mumble my way through it, hoping my listener won't notice.

The most important thing when learning a foreign language, however, is to just *let go*. I always think of what my favorite German professor once said to us, "Es gibt immer Fehler," meaning, "There are always mistakes." What he was trying to say at the time was that we were all going to make those stupid little grammatical/vocabulary errors, so no one should stress out about it because no one was expecting perfection from us.

So I think you should have your student teach you Czech...kind of the way that my best German buddy out here teaches me German. We sit in a cafe and try to talk to each other, and I'm constantly asking her, "How do you say....?" "How do you say...?" And she'll gently correct me in a way that doesn't make me feel like an idiot, and sometimes I'll have to help her think of words in German. Most of the time, we speak in some weird Gerglish hybrid, but we understand each other, and that's all that matters!

As for Man-Language...beats me, sister. I've never been particularly fluent, and my personal translator has gone completely haywire.


What I would really like is for my student to just speak Czech to me, and not worry too much about whether or not I understand -- just let me listen and ask for words I need to know. I mean, people speak Czech to me on a daily basis, and I gather what they mean, despite not knowing some words, from gesture, expression and context. I think he is uniquely postioned to help me enormously with my Czech, because of how I really want to understand him. But, we shall see if he is willing to do it. He's busy, and all that.

Meanwhile, I read a whole page of a Czech fairy tale this morning, about a rooster and hen searching for nuts in a foresty park. They went out, and the rooster said "whatever we find, we'll share by halves," and the chicken agreed, so off they went. The chicken raked and rummaged for nuts, and the rooster found nuts, too, but he was stingy, and wanted all the fresh nuts to himself. He swallowed them up so that the chicken didn't know, and filled his throat with them until he was choking. "hurry up, chicken," he said, "bring water or I will die!" So he said, rolling around on the ground, with his feet in the air. The chicken went to the fountain for water.

I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.


it's a quite long fairy tale, Jaime, and a lot of thinks happens. But be sure the story always aims to good.
Not easy to learn Czech, I can imagine, and must split a secret with you that Czech children learn Czech for nine years to know! So, believe me, you still have time enough even you don't like it.
Just an example of this cruel language for you foreigners:-) :
Slepička kohoutka zachrání. Kohoutek se zastydí, že nebyl spravedlivý, a že chtěl slepičku podvést. Uvědomí si, jak moc pro něj slepička znamená a má ji rád až do smrti.
This educative fairy tale is also meant as a translator of men thinking.
See you.


Hm... The Hen rescued the rooster. Rooster was ashamed of himslef, as if he wasn't upright, and wanted to decieve the hen. He realized that she was the best hen when he called to her when he was dying? Am I close, Pavel?

I finished the fairy tale. My favorite part is when the hen asks the meadow for some grass for the cow, and the meadow says she will give the hen grass if she begs for dew from heaven. Then the hen says:

"Nebe, nebíčku, dej louce rosičky..."

Which, for all the rest of you, means "heaven, sweet heaven, give some sweet dew to the meadow..." The very best thing about Czech is the incredibly sweet diminuitve forms of everything. So lovely.

Pavel, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing you soon!


Close, right! Only the part about death is slightly different. It's the very common ending of most of Czech fairy tales ... and they loved each other until their end.
It's nice for you, that you have understood the sense :-)


It's only because I have a dictionary that I have understood it! It's only kind of nice. On the bright side, I had three hours of Czech lessons today. Come hell or high water, I will learn this language!!!

Sadly, this ending doesn't cast much recognizable light on the mystifying behavior of men. Of course I don't include you in this assessment, though, Pavel.


"Nebe, nebíčku, dej louce rosičky..." ... it sounds like Shakespeare in English. I think, no dictionary could help without feeling for the language that you must already have. So according my estimation not nine, but four - five years would be enough.

You don't understand the fairy tale? Kohoutek je frajer & cheater, but slepicka loves him irrespective of it. What men would want more?


Oh, I understand it. The rooster is dishonest and cheats her, but she goes to the end of the earth, and finally begs for dew from heaven to save him, even though he is so bad. In the end, he sees that he was wrong, and they live happily together after that.

I also heard that another version of the story exists in which the hen brings back the water in her little beak (do zobačku!) only to find that he is already dead... and why? Because he was so stingy! So sad!

All I can add to this, is that one can only go to the ends of the earth if one actually has a rooster that calls on one for help, and therein lies my personal tragic tale.

I hope you're right about my Czech. I am really so frustrated at how I absolutely cannot speak any useful sentences. But, I have to admit, I think I am making some small progress lately...

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