Motivation

I fancy myself as a bit of an influencer. My opinions are certainly held in high esteem by my friends, loved ones, and even those peers I’m wholly ambivalent towards, like the boy I sat opposite in GCSE Maths. They come to me in droves, desperate for my pearls of wisdom, be they philosophical, political or aesthetic, and I’m more than happy to give them to them. After all, when you’re blessed with such enviable instincts and razor taste, you owe it to the world to give back.

I saw thousands of people wearing this same London 2012 shirt just minutes after I bought mine at the London 2012 Olympics. Coincidence?

Now I have a blog, my recommendations are no longer checked by geographical constraints, and the Ro Effect is being felt the world over. Don’t forget – hipsters didn’t start wearing ankle swingers until pictures of me at secondary school resurfaced. I’m pretty sure I’m at least mostly responsible for bringing dungarees into the adult mainstream, as well: there’s photographic evidence of me rocking denim all-in-ones as an unpopular teenager.

Will I show you the photographic evidence? No. It’s private.

Running such an influential blog can be a lot of responsibility at times. Sure, to you guys, it must seem effortless. “Every recommendation that falls from your lips and drips from your pen is pure gold,” I hear you exclaim. Well, that’s true. But even the greats have moments of doubt. “What if,” I think to myself, “pantaloons aren’t coming back in a big way? What then? My credibility will be in shreds.” It’s enough to keep you up at night.

The nature of the blog is that it defies boundaries. As a tech-stunted teen, I was constrained to shouting my recommendations eg at passing cars, into drainpipes, into my sleeping family’s faces etc. These days, my influence is massive: wordpress statistics inform me that most of my posts are read in over two countries.

This presents me with a quandry, though. How to continue to provide my followers with the guidance they so desperately need whilst also ensuring that any and all content is as inclusive and relevant as possible? There’s no point in my Swindon-based readership learning about the most cutting edge fashions in Prague. That just doesn’t make any sense.

I’ve decided to provide more detailed commentary about the finer things in life, thus allowing you, my dear readers, to develop your own individualised taste and instincts. Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to appreciate the specific scale pattern of a fish and market that expertise, he’ll make millions on instagram. Sure, I’m effectively making myself obsolete, but I do everything for the good of the people.

Anyway, that’s why I’m gonna start writing about toilets again. So that one day, you’ll be able to write about toilets all by yourselves. Big, big dreams.

Stuff I know now that I didn’t know a year ago

It’s good to recognise personal development. Most of my growth over the last year has been in the ‘coffee’ and ‘general waster’ spheres, but this is, in my opinion, still valid. I’ve completed this short – but still comprehensive – list of the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired since the first of June, 2018.


  • Coffee vocab
The author hopes this image will convey the concept of working in a cafe.

(Mostly Czech vocab, of course, like káva and hrnek. Sure, it’s insane that I accepted a job in a cafe without being totally clear on such fundamental words as coffee and mug, but life’s a journey. Weirdly, though, I’ve learnt loads of coffee vocab in English, simply because I’d never been exposed to this particular area of jargon. For example, I had no idea what we call that lever you put the coffee in and stick in the coffee machine; my best guess, based on my love of using anthropomorphisms to make work responsibilities more interesting, was coffee arm. It turns out it’s actually portafilter. Man, who knew?)


  • How to deal with hangovers.
The author hopes this image will convey the sensation of deep malaise.

(I think I do drink less now than I did in my heady ‘study abroad’ days, but mornings after have been hitting me harder. Whilst a year ago I could bounce out of bed after a night of revelry ready for the day, it’s getting really difficult to force myself to rise and shine.

I feel like this might have something to do with my body prematurely ageing, i.e. I’m convinced I have the physical form of a woman in her mid- to late-thirties, despite my passport’s insistence that I’m still some ways away from twenty three. Still, it’s not all bad – sure, I might have killer hangovers, but (if we assume the corollary to be true), I’m probably slightly less likely to get pregnant. (Best not to test this theory.)

OK, and sure, my way of dealing with hangovers is to hide from sunlight and loudly insist I’m never drinking again, but it’s a system of sorts, and I’m proud of it.)


  • That, if you’re trying to shoot film, it’s really, really important that you load the film correctly.
The author hopes that the expression on this dog’s face will convey the sensation of embarrassment in the face of one’s own stupidity.

(You’d think that this would be obvious; but I am a semi-professional idiot.)


  • If you don’t know a word in Czech, sometimes you can just say the word in English and everyone will nod.
The author hopes this image will convey the effect of the language barrier.

(Czech people who’ve never studied English still have better passive comprehension of my language than I have of theirs. I will never bother to learn the actual, pure Czech word for fancy; why bother, when you can just say fency and everyone gets what you’re on about?)


  • That, if you’ve taken lots of pictures on your digital camera, you shouldn’t delete them all before you’ve made any kind of back up.
The author hopes that this self portrait will convey the sensation of embarrassment in the face of one’s own stupidity – a sensation she finds herself trying to convey often.

(Me: presses ‘Delete All’.
Camera: Are you sure?
Me: I definitely do not want to delete all of these photos. I am certain of this. So, in answer to your question, yes, I’m sure.
Me: presses ‘Yes’)

Lehká Hlava, Lehký Měchýř

Despite the fact that Czech traditional cookery revolves around pork fat and meat weighed by the kilogramme, Prague has a surprisingly vibrant vegetarian and vegan scene, which caters to locals and Czechs alike. Indeed, I was once told that Prague has the greatest number of vegan restaurants/capita of any European city. (I am, however, sceptical of this: for one thing, I haven’t bothered to Google around for the truth, and, for another, Prague is so small that winning anything ‘per capita’ doesn’t mean a lot.) Whilst the centre is full of meateries boasting traditional pork-based fare, the trendy outer areas are replete with avocado and meat substitutes. It was at I.P. Pavlova, for example, that I first tasted the joy that is deep fried cauliflower, and the pretentiously punctuated, uncapitalised ‘coffee room.’ in Vinohrady boasts two different kinds of avocado on toast.

Lehká Hlava (cz: clear/light head) is amongst the new generation of upmarket meat-free establishments catering to Czechs and tourists alike. I visited a few weeks ago and loved everything about the experience: the quirky decor, the friendly staff, the menu jam-packed with veggie and vegan dishes (including an incredible tofoie gras)…

Still, I know that most of my readers aren’t Prague based, and I don’t want to bore you with a gushing review of a place you’re never going to visit. Instead, please enjoy this detailed review of the toilet at Lehká Hlava. Strap in!

Also, and I appreciate the number of people who will get this is limited, I’m incredibly proud of the pun in the title: Light Head, Light Bladder. Love it. You’re all welcome.

The first port of call in any toilet review has to be the john itself. The unit in Lehká Hlava was outstandingly clean and equipped with a blue toilet duck. I was delighted, as the toilet blogging community has long accepted that blue is the optimal colour for any toilet cleaning products, and the bright white loo practically dazzled me.

The seat is at a slightly jaunty angle – this is no bad thing, as it lends the throne a certain whimsical character, which stops the tableau from falling into the trap of being offputtingly sterile. The pipe you can see on the right was somewhat rusty and aged, but in a pleasant way, like a disused locomotive or abandoned farm equipment. Overall a very decent unit.

I liked the contrast between surgical white wall tiles and rustic terracotta flooring; it reminded me of the food in Lehká Hlava itself – familiar flavours, with a modern twist.

The rustic/modern dichotomy was consistent throughout the bathroom area, as illustrated in the contrast between the Apple-white radiator unit and the tactile metal lock. I spent a few moments sliding the lock back and forth (you have to allow yourself some treats in this life), and I’m pleased to say that it was easily manipulable (it felt well-oiled) and pleasantly clunky.

Although the corner sink sacrificed comfort for space-saving (notice the awkward positioning of the soap dispenser, itself disappointingly service station-esque) the hand washing area contained this eye-catching piece of architecture. A mosaic arch was an original way to encourage patrons to spend that little bit longer lathering up. The arch itself, whilst ambitious, relies too much on spackle, as demonstrated by the sub-par tile:cement ratio. Still, an inspired creative choice.

The nature of the corner sink-mosaic arch combo was such that the mirror was unconventionally placed: not over the sink, as is usual, but on the wall opposite. Not unusable, but certainly frustrating; it would be difficult, for example, to use the sink as a makeup shelf, and washing your hands whilst also considering how cool you are would be nigh on impossible.

The final aspect of the bathroom was the most exciting. Yes, even more thrilling than the rustic-modern twist; still more exhilarating than the corner sink within its tile grotto. It’s not many toilets that include a secret cave, and I can only salute Lehká Hlava for including one here.

I was overall pleased with the bathroom. Although I generally prefer an over-the-sink mirror, the architect’s daring adventures into arches and nooks won me back. Would certainly recommend.

ways in which I have refused to integrate into Czech society

Sure, I live here. Alright, I earn Czech money and pay Czech taxes. Yes, I’ve been known to speak the odd word of Czech. Fine, I’ll admit it, I’m sitting in a Czech cafe right now, drinking a Czech coffee and eavesdropping on the Czech conversations of my (presumably) Czech cafemates. But, despite this, I am not Czech, and there are elements of Czech society which I have roundly rejected.

I…

will not enjoy Pilsner;

Lads, I love beer. At any moment in time, I’m either drinking a pint or wishing I were. My fridge is full of rainbow cans of various craft beers I’ve collected from expensive bottle shops in distant corners of Prague. I have a beer-based tattoo.

You might think that Prague would be the perfect city for me, then. After all, Czechs famously consume more beer/capita then any nation in the world.

Unfortunately for me and for everyone who spends time with me, I’m bored of Pilsner. Pilsner is the Czech beer: it’s in every pub, cafe, workplace and school. It’s essentially a really nice lager that goes well with most food. The problem is that I’m sick of it: it’s the most generic beer I can imagine. It just tastes like the word beer. It’s so nondescript that I can’t think of any way to describe it except by writing beer and underlining it a few times.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about it. It’s just that I’m by nature a stout drinker and I’m living in the land of the ležák. It’s something I struggle with every day.

I’m vegetarian;

And I’m getting more militant with each passing day.

This is specifically tricky in the Czech Republic, land of pork. The classic Czech vegetarian option is breaded cheese deep-fried and served with potato salad. I love deep frying things as much as the next gourmand, but you can only have so many mozzarella sticks.

will not take ová;

Czech surnames change depending on whether the holder is male or female; women’s names usually take the suffix ová. I thought this was a fairly inoffensive, cute eccentricity until I learnt about possessive nouns – it turns out that the ová ending essentially denotes belonging to

I realise the irony of rejecting this; my name is Daniels which, although I’m no etymologist, surely means belonging to Daniel, essentially Daniel’s.

Still, though, I’ve stopped giving my surname as Danielsová on principle. It means that I get some weird looks (although, admittedly, people being confused about my gender is a by-product of my whole androgynous thing), but I’m just not a fan.

and don’t own slippers.

Slippers are a cornerstone of Czech culture. I will not expand on this, because I don’t want to.

ways in which I have integrated into Czech society

As I’ve already mentioned a million times on this blog, I recently moved to Prague to pursue my dream of gentrifying East-Central Europe. I’ve been in the Czech Republic for about six months now, and whilst I’d hesitate to identify myself as convincingly European, despite what my passport insists, I am conscious that certain aspects of my behaviour have changed in my jaunt on the continent. Although hindered by my shocking Czech and general standoffishness, I am slowly integrating into Czech society in certain specific ways.

I…

don’t buy public transport tickets;

The Prague public transport system is a mixture of underground, buses, and adorable trams that look like they’ve not been updated since 1968 (pictured). Since I started working largely from home, the frequency of my rides on the rails has diminished massively. I no longer rely on the tram for my income, but rather consider a trip on the metro a sort of weekly treat.

The network is relatively reliable, at least compared to its Sheffield counterpart; and, like its Yorkshire equivalent, it’s incredibly open to abuse. Unlike the larger public transport systems I’m familiar with, both Sheffield and Prague rely on a largely self-policed ticketing service. You buy a ticket from an exciting yellow machine with pleasingly old-fashioned buttons, validate it onboard using another exciting yellow machine, and present your validated ticket to representatives of the law on request.

It sounds like a reasonable and decent system, except for one thing: I’ve never seen a representative of the law checking tickets. I’ve lived here, as I say, for half a year now, and at my peak I travelled by public transport a few times a day – and my ticket has never been checked. What does a person do in the face of such a lax system? Stop using the exciting yellow machines.

I’m sure my comeuppance is up-and-coming, and, frankly, I’d not feel at all upset if I were fined at this point. I deserve it. Sometimes I use the first exciting yellow machine just to enjoy the pleasingly tactile buttons, but, largely I’m a criminal.

Anyway, I think this counts as cultural integration because I was encouraged to flout the law by my Czech pals who openly laughed when they saw me buying a ticket from the exciting machine. Peer pressure strikes again.

don’t consume any Czech media;

“Friends,” I ask in my charmingly broken Czech, “can you recommend me a Czech newspaper?”

“Pals,” I inquire in my accented Czech, “what TV show should I watch to strengthen my already mighty knowledge of your language?”

“Chums,” I wonder aloud, “do you know any Czech music?”

The answer to these earnest questions has always been, in this order,

“No.”

“None.”

“No.”

It’s 2019 and, as any language learner knows, a great way to improve your skills is to immerse yourself in the media of your target language. Imagine my horror and disappointment in hearing that my Czech friends get their news from the BBC, watch HBO and listen to Blur. I’ve spoken to the occasional Czech who reads German news, but I’ve been roundly discouraged from opening Lidové Noviny or listening to any Czech tunes – with the notable exception of Plastici.

have a job and a flat and that; 

What could be more Czech than living in the Czech Republic and earning Czech crowns??

Although, if you ask someone from Moravia, Prague isn’t Czechia; just like, to northerners, London isn’t England.

have strong opinions about the whole Czech Republic/Czechia debate.

Those opinions change regularly, but I have them, and I’m fully invested in the polemic.

Essential Check

I study Czech, Russian and Polish at university, and most people’s response to that is, “Why, though?”

The honest answer, that I don’t know – it just seemed interesting, never seems to satisfy anyone. And, reader, if you know anything about me, you know that I live to please: an unsatisfactory conversation is a weight on my very soul. I’ve started brainstorming better answers:

  • “I love beer.”
  • “I really like chess and I thought it’d be related.”
  • “My grandfather/uncle/childhood friend/goldfish was a Slav.”
  • “I love vodka.”
  • “I want to work as a spy. Wait, I shouldn’t have said that. I mean, I want to work in banking.”
  • “War and Peace changed my life. No, I’ve not read it. I mean the TV show.”
  • “I’m just super into pickles.”
  • “I’m an aspiring nesting doll.”
  • “Solidarity, innit.”
  • “Why do you think?”

This last one is particularly interesting – the ideas people come up with are always way better than anything I can dream up. One suggestion sticks out – someone asked if I’d chosen Czech, Russian and Polish because of the potential for puns.

It’s true: of all the ~6,500 languages spoken on Earth, the three I’ve devoted my education to are amongst the most pun-rich. Puns, of course, rarely translate into foreign languages, which is one of the hardest facts I’ve ever had to come to terms with.

For our own education and enjoyment, though, I’ve decided to translate all the homophones of “Czech” I could think of into Czech. Enjoy this meaningless list of vocab.

  • Czech (adj.)

český

  • Czech (noun; language)

čeština

  • Czech (noun; Czech person)

Čech / Češka

  • Cheque (noun)

šek

  • Check (noun; situation in chess)

šach

  • Check (noun; inspection)

zkouška

  • Check (noun; control)

kontrola

  • Check (noun; a mark, usually a tick)

křížek

  • Check (noun; a lengthwise separation of the rings in wood)
I didn’t manage to find a translation for this; that might be for the best.
  • Check (verb; to inspect)

prověřit

  • Check (verb; to mark with a checkmark)

zaškrtnout

  • Check (verb; to control or limit)

kontrolovat

  • Check (verb; to compare)

kontrolovat

 

Isn’t learning fun?

20180125_142251

This is an unrelated picture of a bear I saw in the zoo in Brno last year.

Nonessential Czech

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.

etareta.jpeg

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.

etareta navod.jpg

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.

Optical viewfinder.

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.

Timing ring.

What’s the most important part of comedy timing

#realjokes

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.

Jára Cimrman: The Master

city vintage filters czech republic

One of the nicest things about studying for a degree as niche as ‘Russian and Slavonic Studies with Czech and Polish’ is you acquire a lot of very esoteric information, and I’m more than happy to spread this unusual info around. I consider it a responsibility, as well as a privilege, to disseminate some of the weirder stuff I’ve learned in the course of my degree.

(I finally bothered to look up what esoteric means. It’s a bangin’ piece of vocab and, ironically, quite widely applicable.)

img-20180424-wa0030

Some top-shelf domes in Suzdal.

To the delight (or chagrin) of my friends, I’ve been known to hold court for hours on such varied subjects as “The Made-Up Animals of Jaroslav Hašek,” “Doctors-turned-authors in Russian Literature,” and “My Struggles with the Letter Ř.”

My peers are dazzled by my description of what different coloured onion domes mean in Eastern Orthodoxy; disgusted by my recounting the shortage of toilet paper in communist Czechoslovakia; disturbed by my passionate run-down of the grisliest deaths of Slavic literary heroes.

I wanted to use this platform to introduce you to a Czech national hero, a man whose impact on Central Europe and, indeed, on the world generally, is literally unbelievable, but who is largely unknown outside of Czechia’s borders.

(I’m not misusing ‘literally’; I genuinely don’t think you’ll believe what he got done in his lifetime.)

I’m talking, of course, about the inimitable Jára Cimrman: the greatest man you’ve never heard of.

Who is Cimrman? It’d take all day to list his accomplishments, but luckily for you, I’ve got fuck all to better to do than clumsily translate his cs.wikipedia page.

Cimrman, like many Czech historical heroes, has dubious claim to Czech nationality by today’s standards; he was born in Vienna at some point between 1853 and 1859 to a Czech tailor and Austrian actress. Cimrman considered himself culturally and nationally Czech, although he lived during a period when Czech national identity was repressed by law – the Czech lands formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

It’s somewhat shocking that Cimrman never received meaningful recognition during his own lifetime, given the extent and scope of his various successes. He is now considered one of the eminent playwrights, poets, musicians, teachers, travelers, philosophers, inventors, sportsmen and criminals of his age.

cimrman.PNG

I nicked that last sentence word for word from this website

I don’t have the time or the typing skills to provide you with a comprehensive biography of this man, but here’s an abridged list of his greatest achievements.

Jára Cimrman

  • proposed the Panama Canal to the US government;
  • composed a libretto for an opera (also named the Panama Canal);
  • reformed the school system in Galicia;
  • constructed the first rigid airship (in cooperation with Count Zeplin);
  • investigated the lives of cannibalistic tribes in the Arctic;
  • once, when fleeing said tribes, missed the North Pole by a mere seven metres, making him the first human to nearly reach the top of the world;
  • created the world’s first puppet show in Paraguay;
  • and established the Viennese School of Criminology, Music and Ballet.

And that’s not all! Cimrman is also credited with

  • serving as assistant to Pierre and Marie Curie;
  • inventing yoghurt;
  • corresponding with George Bernard Shaw over a number of years;
  • creating the philosophy of Externism;
  • advising Mendeleev, the father of the periodic table;
  • and developing a primitive version of the internet – since the computer had not been invented yet, he was forced to use a network of telephones.
(I told you you literally wouldn’t believe this man’s achievements.)

It’s said that when Graham Bell invented the telephone, he found three missed calls from J. Cimrman.

No surprise then, that when Česká televize launched a public poll in 2004 to determine the nation’s favourite Czech, Cimrman received by far the most votes.

Yet, in a scandal similar to that surrounding the infamous ‘Boaty McBoatface’ poll, ČT refused to award Cimrman the prize. And why? Because, they claimed, the poll was intended to seriously honour Czech national heroes, and, they added, Cimrman didn’t qualify anyway, for the simple reason that he was made-up.

That’s right, as you might have begun to suspect at some point during that litany of achievement, Jára Cimrman never actually existed. He was invented by a theatre group in the 20th Century, but since then he’s captured the nation’s heart. Real he may not be; but hero he certainly is.

 

Essential Czech: Hello etc

Picture the scene: you’re in the Czech Republic.

round analog clock

I’m including pictures to help your imagination

You’re on holiday, visiting your sister/daughter/niece/friend/partner-in-crime, the esteemed blogger Ro Daniels. Blogging isn’t paying the bills so she’s gone down the mines. You’re all on your own.

You want a pint/coffee/postcard/doughnut. You head to the appropriate establishment, and on entering you’re met with the cheery smile and (you assume) friendly greeting of the staff. This stops you in your tracks – you want to reply, but you’re tongue-tied and you don’t know how!

Never fear. The subject of this Tuesday’s class is G R E E T I N G S. After reading this blog, you’ll be able to appropriately salute people from all walks of life. Hold tight!

Hello

Here are some phrases to deploy on meeting someone.

Dobrý den

This is what I’d describe as the standard greeting. It literally means, “Good day.”

As a bonus, it’s a cognate with a bunch of other Slavic greetings, like Dzień dobry in Polish and Добрый день (dobry dyien’) in Russian.

Dobré ráno

Good morning.

I usually use this sarcastically, because I so rarely consider mornings at all good. (Not an ideal situation, given I’m meant to be bushy-tailed and ready to start pouring coffee at 6am.)

Incidentally, to my ear, all spoken Czech sounds passive-aggressive, so my early-morning sarcasm just helps me fit in.

Dobrý večer

Good evening.

Hello and Goodbye

Czech is nothing if not efficient: here are some words that can mean both hello and goodbye.

Ahoj

Yeah, like what pirates say!!! Which is especially brilliant since the Czech Republic is landlocked. I don’t think river pirates exist.

Čau

This is pronounced exactly like the Italian “Ciao.” Pretty sure that can’t be a coincidence, but I’m not an etymologist and my Googling fingers are tired.

Nazdar

“Hallo!” or, “Cheerio!” People give me slightly weird looks when I say this, but I don’t care because it’s just such a cool word.

Ta-ra

I’m off.

Na shledanou

Tricky for foreigners to pronounce. I tend to stick to the rather informal Čau, even when it’s not strictly appropriate, but I’m so scruffy and disarming that I reckon I pull it off.

Dobrou noc

Nighty night!

For brevity, you can just throw out an offhand “Dobrou!”

 


 

Now get out there and start greeting people.

Essential Czech

When I lived outside the UK last year, I was a student on her semester abroad. I was an Erasmus participant, and, as such, contributed to the Russian/Czech economy mostly by spending tonnes of money on beer and Ubers for when I overslept and needed to get to class in a hurry.

Everything is different now. I live in Prague, not as a student, but as a worker. I’m no longer a mere observer of Czech culture, but rather an active participant – and, as such, I contribute to the Czech economy mostly by buying litres of beer and paying for taxis when I wake up hungover and need to get to work.

It’s a whole new world, let me tell you.

Now that I’m living here on a more long-term basis (read: until I run out of money or Brexit forces me to flee back to the UK), my friends and family are faced with the prospect of visiting me in Czechia.

Prague has a lot to offer international tourists: incredible architecture, cheap beer, leafy parks, low-cost alcohol, fascinating museums and galleries, inexpensive pints, ancient churches and monasteries, and the highest pub:person ratio in Central Europe.

Unfortunately, as I’m no longer a student with no obligations, but a serious English teacher-cum-grumpy waitress with bills to pay, I can’t show visitors around the city with the same freedom before.

Whilst central Prague can easily be navigated without a single word of Czech, in suburbs and other towns, English is more rarely spoken. As such, I’m gonna start posting a couple of words of Czech a week here, so if you’re related to me, get out your notebooks. I will be unsympathetic to your cries that you don’t speak the language as I abandon you in Hlavní Nádraží.

I was going to start off with the alphabet, since it’s full of weird letters, but I thought this first lesson should be somewhat more fundamental.

Commit this to your memory:

Dám si jednou pivo.

I’ll have a beer.

20180627_170836

Dám si velké pivo.

I’ll have a big beer.

p28904771

Dám si mockrát pivo.

I’ll have many beers.

 

Stay tuned for other essential Czech phrases, like, “Where’s the toilet?” and “We demand independence from the Austro-Hungarian oppressors.”