I am starting a thread which will hopefully guilt me into posting a set of new words every day to improve my Czech. I may also post a version for Spanish, but that would involve more difficult words or phrases, as I already speak Spanish pretty well. My Czech, on the other hand, hasn't been improving much lately, as I've been neglecting my lessons and taking Spanish instead, because it's more fun.
Here we go: Today a softy that I already mostly know, the Czech color pallet. Note that all words are posted in the nominative singular form- which means you couldn't actually use all of these words in their present forms in many situations, since Czech is a declined language. Nevertheless, declination is a separate problem I'm studying, and all vocab words will be here in nominative singular or nominative plus another case to help me remember some specific phrase. Sometimes I will try to write sentences, and then you might see some declining going on. I don't have a Czech keyboard, so characters may sometimes be an issue. Yay, here we go:
červená = red modrá = blue žlutá = yellow
zelená = green oranžová = orange růžová = pink fialová = purple hnědá = brown béžová = beige
bílá = white černá = black šedá = grey
zlatá = gold stříbrná = silver
A note on typography and pronunciation: Accents in Czech indicate not an emphasis on a sound, but an elongation of the sound. All words in Czech, without exception, have an emphasis on the first syllable, and a falling emphasis on every other syllable thereafter. So, for instance, my favorite Czech word, "Fidlovačce" (the name of a theater in Prague) has 4 syllables with the emphasis on "fid" and the rest of the sounds trailing after it kind of sadly. It's fun to listen to. Virtually all Czech writing is phonetic. Each letter is assigned a sound roughly analogous to the sounds of the same letters in English, with a number of additional letters modifying the sound. Here is a partial list:
č: Makes a "ch" sound. š: A "sh" sound ž: makes a soft "j" sound as in "Jean-luc" ě: makes a soft "ie" sound like "ye" as in "Sidney Poitier"
ř: Oh you bane of my existence. The soft r is not present in most languages (some say only two lang, and so there is literally no word in English that comes close to replicating it. It sounds a little like a soft "j" but involves the tongue vibrating against the upper teeth very lightly to produce a reedy sort of quasi-consonant sound. I can produce the sound technically but it took me a lot of practice, and is difficult to place into longer words, particularly when it is placed beside consonants, such as in "stříbrná," because the t sound impedes my getting to the placement for the "ř," which just ends up sound like a lisp or like I'm spitting in the middle of the word. Many Czech children are obliged to attend speech therapy in order to pronounce this sound properly, as it is very hard; many adults struggle with it as well, changing it to a "y" sound in certain words.
Tomorrow: Common modes of transportation.
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