Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Co to Zamena?

What does that mean?

Exactly!

This week has been a whirlwind; with five full days of orientation walks and talks, my head is full of new information, I think I might have some understanding of the layout of the city, and I am absolutely exhausted. Nonetheless, I am incredibly excited about what this year has to bring, and cannot wait for our Czech classes to start on Monday. As is clear from my last few posts, I haven’t been waiting for the Czech classes to start to start learning Czech.

I’ve been working on my vocabulary (admittedly, random vocabulary) with my host family, trying to work on my pronunciation, and learning various but extremely useful phrases. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to answer some questions about how to live in Prague – before I came, I looked for answers to some relatively simple questions and couldn’t find them! So, if you have a question about Prague, ask in the comments, and I’ll use all my resources (host family, CIEE staff, my grandmother back home, my grandmother’s friends/family here, and my Charles University professors) to get a straight answer.

I’ve had a few experiences in the past five days when I used my Czech and didn’t get a second look. Many in which I asked a question in Czech and was answered in English because I didn’t use the right tense or something, but still. We have to start small. I ordered green tea in a restaurant (zelény čaj, prosim), and the waitress had no problem understanding me. Later that day, I said dobrý den (good day/hello) to a CIEE staff member who didn’t know me, and he thought I was Czech. And then, tonight, I asked Emma chtěla byste něco k pík?, which means “would you like something to drink?.” She responded as if she had been asked by her mom – I’m not even sure that she realized I had asked her. But the best response was from Anna and Filip, who both stopped what they were doing and looked at me in amazement. Apparently, I’m learning. Yay!

But I feel like I’m learning so many words that I can’t possibly remember them. I try to write them down, but I don’t always have a notebook with me. And even then, I have multiple pages filled with words in essentially no logical order. But writing them down helps me remember them, and the CIEE staff and my host family are all willing to tell me the same words multiple times. I’m certainly picking up vocabulary quickly, and I’m sure it will only accelerate when I know some grammar. Anna and Filip have been trying to teach me a bit, but it’s very complicated. I think that Brown Bear, Brown Bear will actually help a lot, because it has multiple verb forms in it, and the different conjugations seems to be the most complicated part of the language.

There are a few phrases I’ve really wanted to know, because I know that it will be very useful if I can get them down. I already know a few, but most I am working on being able to remember. Here they are:

  • I know/I don’t know – vím/nevím
  • I remember/I don’t remember – vzpomínám si/nevzpomínám si
  • I understand/I don’t understand – rozumim/nerozumim
  • I think – ye myslet
  • How do you say “~” – jak se řek ne ~
  • Please say that again – zopakuiteto prosim
  • Do you need help? – chceš pomoct?
  • Please help me – pomoz mi prosim
  • What does “~” mean? – co zanema ~
  • Let’s go! – podě me!
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2 responses

  1. Anita

    I’m enjoying your postings, Kathy. I have a question… do they have another alphabet more like cyrillic, or are your spellings the way they are spelled there as well? Some of the phrases remind me of Russian (which I took for 1 year in college, so I remember bits and pieces but not a lot of).

    September 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    • The words are actually spelled the way I’m writing them (there is no cyrillic-esque language). The hard thing, though, is that many of the sounds are slightly different than English, or what we would expect as English speakers.

      September 8, 2013 at 6:53 am

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