Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Absorbing the Language

I don't know if I'm more observant than many other expats because I've being doing the whole abroad thing for so long or what. Maybe it just goes back to when I was a kid and the guys in my apartment complex teased me saying I must be a spy because I knew everything that was going on around the complex. 

I'm just observant. Honestly, I'm far less observant these days because I'm self-absorbed really busy and sometimes forget to stop and look around.

But when I do stop to look around, I realize that I've picked up a lot of Czech even without trying. I know that glass is sklo because the recycling bins on the side of the street have convenient pictures to help you not screw it up figure it out. I also learned that bílá is white and zelená is green from the same signs. 

It's amazing what you can learn from waste management bins.

Then there's the káva — coffee, duh — which costs an arm and a leg here and it can be difficult to find a good one. But, of course, I can't just drink a simple coffee. I like my espresso with mléko and cukr, or milk and sugar.

It's the little things in life, really, like learning the word 'tourist' from a movie poster:

Note the lack of anything that resembles "the." They don't use articles in Czech. Funny, they don't use them in Chinese either. Who needs articles anyway?


  1. I can relate - we have "press conferences" after the games and a couple of weeks back I actually understood the gist of it. I'm not sure if it's because our coach is Canadian so his 'Deutsch' sounds much like mine..but more and more the sentences are starting to make sense. I can't speak back for beans, but at least I have a little but more of an understanding!

  2. A little piece of me died inside when you said that coffee costs an arm and a leg, and that it's not even that good.


  3. KY: I'm thoroughly impressed. I'm no where near being able to understand anything that advanced. Honestly, I stand there with my mouth agape and wide-eyed when people start talking to me in Czech. All in due time, I suppose.

    KT: Don't worry. You can buy Lavazza coffee at the grocery store. It's a LITTLE expensive, but it's cheaper than buying coffee at a shop. It just seems that instant "coffee" seems to pass around here. It's not impossible and I'm on a trail that seems to promise decent coffee in my own neighborhood. I'll check it out and let you know when you get here.

  4. Good for you absorbing it while you are there. And man oh man does Czech sound hard! At least German is similar to English in so many ways. Can't wait to hear stories about your upcoming Czech classes!

  5. i totally agree with you. i was just talking to my mom tonight about how i think i've randomly picked up a lot of words. especially when my little kid students talk to me. i swear i can tell what they're saying just from context and the handful of words i'm now familiar with. but i suppose comprehension always comes before production. :)

  6. I wish I could learn another language!


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