Are you asking yourself why you should learn Czech? This strange language full of weird diacritics, funny pronunciation and so many different cases and word endings that make some people say it’s impossible to learn it properly? Why even bother and make the effort to learn something that is unlikely to be used anywhere else than in the Czech Republic? Then you might be surprised.
I admit that at first I was sceptical and unsure if I could come up with ten good reasons why you should do it, and whether you should do it with all your might. But in the end, it wasn’t hard at all. And since I am a Czech girl, I know what I’m saying. If I tell you Czech people are going to appreciate that you want to learn Czech, they will!
So let’s have a look at why I think you should learn Czech in spite of all the people trying to talk you out of it:
1. Because it’s an amazing language.
Of course, I can hear you saying that I’m biased. Well, I am, I agree. But what other language has so many different words to name one thing with all of them having a slightly different tinge? Let’s say, for example “a little boy”. Right now, I can think of at least ten ways of expressing this phrase in Czech: chlapec, chlapeček, kluk, klučík, klučina, hoch, hošík, hošan, mladík, mladíček. The same, or maybe even better, with “a girl”: holka, holčina, holčička, dívka, děvče, děvečka, děvenka, děvucha, dívčička, dívenka, dcerka, žába, žabka… Impressive, isn’t it? :-)
2. Because it would rule to order a beer in the pub in Czech!
Ok, the phrase “two beers, please” (“dvě piva, prosím“) is easy to learn. But it’s a nice start! I guarantee that your Czech friends will be impressed!
3. Because you will need it if you want to travel around the Czech Republic.
I’m sorry to say this, but outside Prague, timetables and announcements of changes or delays are usually in Czech only. Unfortunate, but if you’ll be travelling alone or with other non-Czech speakers you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.
4. Because not everybody speaks English in the Czech Republic.
I know it makes us sound a little stupid and ingnorant “because everybody speaks English nowadays”, but this is the truth. Not everybody speaks English, so asking for a bottle of water at the newsstand might turn into a real adventure. Even if you manage to express your wishes, there might be some tricky additional questions coming: large or small, sparkling or still, flavored or not. In the end, you might end up leaving thirsty and frustrated (this is a real story that happened to a friend of mine, I swear I didn’t make it up to scare you). I’m afraid that even more than 20 years after the Velvet Revolution there are still more people who speak some Russian rather than some English. Which takes us to the next point:
5. Because Czech is a gateway to other European languages.
As a Slavic language, Czech is really close to Russian, Polish and Slovak so it might help you if you decide to continue to study other Slavic languages. Unlike Russians, we use the Latin alphabet, so it’s easier to read and write in Czech than in Russian. With advanced knowledge of Czech, you’ll be able to understand some spoken and written Slovak and Polish and spoken Russian.
6. Because Czech people will appreciate it.
A lot of foreigners start learning Czech after some time, when they have a Czech girlfriend or boyfriend, they work here and have finally decided to stay here permanently. But it’s nice and useful to start learning a language of a country even though you’re not 100% sure that you will stay forever. We understand that you might not want to stay here permanently but we would appreciate an attempt at trying to understand our culture. And without learning our language you won’t be able to understand.
7. Because it will help you find a job.
You don’t have to master the language as a native speaker. An attempt will be enough. What I’m trying to say is that if I were an employer or a person hiring you, the fact that you’re learning Czech would mean that you are enthusiastic about the Czech culture and that you really want to stay in the Czech Republic. A hundred plus points for you!
8. Because it will help you understand Czechs when they speak English.
I’m not kidding! The accent we have is unfortunately very specific and you might find it hard to understand. Also an unfortunate word-for-word translation or a strange word order is likely to be a result of what we call Czenglish. The more Czech you know the better you understand us when we speak English.
9. Because once you master the basic grammar, you’re fine.
Unlike for example French or German, Czech grammar is easy when you’re at a higher level. It seems hard to start but when you master the patterns of word endings and cases, you’re fine. No surprises!
10. Because you can brag in front of your non-Czech speaking friends.
I bet none of them will be able to say “strč prst skrz krk“, “kmotře Petře, nepřepepřete mi toho vepře” or “pan kaplan v kapli plakal“.
Are there any other reasons why learn Czech? Share them with us!
Author: Dagmar Wiesnerová