They say there’s no such thing as irrelevant language study, but even I’m struggling to imagine how you’re gonna fit this one into your regular Czech needs.
Because I have low impulse control and not enough hobbies, I recently acquired a used camera from the 1940s. I have absolutely no idea if it actually works, partially because I don’t understand cameras at all, and partially because it was only ever sold in Czechoslovakia and so all the instructions I can find are in antiquated, jargon-heavy Czech.
Luckily antiquated, jargon-heavy Czech is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Let’s explore the mysteries of my camera together.
This is a diagram of the camera I bought. I thought I’d go through and translate the different elements, although, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I’ll understand the English translations much better than the Czech.
You might think this is a giant waste of time, and I might be inclined to agree – but, hey, at least it keeps me occupied and off the streets. If I weren’t doing this I’d probably be committing acts of vandalism or stealing sweets from the corner shop, so.
1. Navíjecí točítko k posunu filmu (po snímku) o políčko dále.
Coiling spinner for moving the film along a frame after taking a picture.
Coiling spinner is one of those pieces of vocab I’ll remember for the rest of my life and never, ever use.
2. Odjišťovací knoflík blokovacího mechanismu navíjecího točítka.
Release switch for the locking mechanism of the coiling spinner.
Wow, it turns out coiling spinner just keeps coming up! Totally worth the ten minutes I spent googling navíjecí.
3. Optický hledáček.
This question might just betray my ignorance, but what other kind of viewfinder could there be? Auditory viewfinders still haven’t entered mass production.
4. Počítadlo provedených snímků.
Used film display.
Display might be a melodramatic description of a little spinny thing that tells you how many more shots you’ve got left.
5. Točítko k převinutí filmu zpět do kazety.
Spinner to rewind film back into the cassette.
Two spinners seems like a lot.
6. Zámek víka komory s uvolňovacím knoflíkem.
Lock to the lid of the chamber with a release catch.
Interestingly, the word zámek can mean both lock and castle; so it’s reasonable to imagine that this camera could contain either a lock or a fortified building with a moat and that.
7. Spouštěcí páčka závěrky.
Startup shutter lever.
Alternative translations: “startup closing financial statement lever” and the rather intriguing “startup diaphragm lever.” Isn’t language magical.
8. Páčka k natahování závěrky.
Lever to wind the shutter.
Again, I’m assuming from the context that zavěrka means shutter in this case, and not closing financial statement or diaphragm, neither of which are traditionally used in camera manufacture or, indeed, wound.
9. Zaostřovací kroužek se stupnicí vzdáleností v metrech.
Focusing ring with degrees of distance in metres.
Here’s an example of where I’m let down by my photographic ignorance. I’m sure there’s a proper way to say that without sounding so stilted – I just have no idea what that might be.
10. Časovací kroužek.
What’s the most important part of comedy timing
11. Stupnice clon a stupnice času.
Aperture and time scales.
12. Clonová páčka k nastavení žádané clony.
Aperture lever for setting up the desired aperture.
I wish I could think of something funny to say about this but I’m too embarrassed about not knowing what aperture is. I reckon it has to do with some kind of opening, but I hesitate to speculate further.
Whether or not that was a giant waste of time, whether or not we’ve learnt anything today, at least we all had fun reading about coiling spinners.