Ceska

One of the things I love about traveling is being exposed to the look and sounds of different languages, especially languages you rarely hear in the States. While traveling in Vietnam, I tried my best to learn some of the basics of the language — I even downloaded podcast lessons beforehand. But other than a few easy to handle words (Gam un = thank you; Ca = fish), I found the language extremely difficult to get a hold of in even the most basic ways, and naturally unnecessary given that 95% of people spoke basic English.

Here in Prague, it’ s much the same. Most people speak English, and it’s not necessary to even try to speak in Czech. Still, it seems unfair that it’s so easy for us English speakers to travel everywhere without even having to learn hello and goodbye, so I’ve given it a shot. But pronouncing Czech words is definitely just as difficult as Vietnamese words were. I mean, this is what I’m dealing with:

Na Phkope
Pstrossova
Na Perstyne
Vysehradska
(all street names)

You get the gist. And that’s without all the crazy accents. Navigating our way through the city — yelling out absurd, totally illogical pronunciations of street names while gesturing at nothing in particular — has made for quite a scene.

The Czech language is beautiful, though. It has the same rich chunkiness as German but with the elegant lilt of French or Italian. And thankfully the most important word is easy for even the most linguistically challenged among us to pronounce:

Pivo
(beer)