Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. -Miriam Beard
I have been living in the Czech Republic for almost two years now, have taken oodles of Czech lessons, and can officially attest that the Czech language is one of the most difficult in the world. In college, I minored in Spanish, which I enjoyed immensely. But Czech, with its many different endings and formulations for a single word, combined with the difficult pronunciations of single letters of their alphabet, is a far different animal, especially for English natives.
Despite its difficulty, I’ve pursued learning enough Czech to get around well. And it has paid off countless times. The Czech people respond when foreigners attempt to speak in their language, even when it doesn’t come out perfectly. So, before you consider visiting Prague and the Czech Republic, here are 5 essential words to know.
1) Hello : Ahoj — Said like [Ahoy] This is an informal term used for familiar friends at greeting, and for answering the phone.
2) Good day: Dobrý den [Sounds like Doe-bree den] This is most commonly used in Czech for all greetings. Even when someone enters a room, a “dobrý den” is mumbled by everyone in the room. The response, “Dobrý den” right back.
3) Thank you: Děkuji [Sounds like Dya-koo-yee] This version is the correct way to say thank you, though slang has brought a new word — “Dike” or said like Dee-kay.
4) Please: Prosím [Sounds like Pro-seem] This word you’ll hear often in Czech, especially because it is used to say please and you’re welcome.
5) Good-bye: Na shledanou [Sounds like Na shlay-dan-ow] This expression is used every time you leave a store, a restaurant, or leave someone. There are a few different pronounciations, including the slang Na Skle or said Na Sklay.
One of the best investments when traveling to another country is a language program translator uploaded to an iPod or an iPhone. My favorite is the iTranslate app. I use it all the time.
What helps you the most with languages when you are traveling?
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