A Bit Of An Explanation

I am not a professional. Not anywhere near it. But I like to think that some little observations I have about language and the social construction of it are worthwhile.

Some of these notes were originally written for acquaintances with no linguistic experience whatsoever, so please be patient through the explanations of basic concepts, and the simplistic tone.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Initial Reactions To Czech (AKA, All I Can Say Without Doing Any Real Grammatical Research)

As a follow-up to my post on the Czech games, I'd like to post some short observations on the little Czech those games taught me.

*There are a lot more cognates than I thought there would be. Due to my socialization of language perception, I had always thought that Slavic languages in general, while in the Indo-European family and therefore bound to have some similarities to the Germanic/Romance section, would have pretty much unrecognizable vocabulary. I was amazed how many cognates I could recognize.

*I was right - Czech seems even more similar to Polish than I had guessed. In those little list of words, I recognized so many Polish cognates. One that really stood out to me was the phrase/word for "I don't understand" - "Nerozumím".

And now I can get off on a tangent about Polish grammar. In Czech, because "Ne" means "no", I can logically assume that "I understand" would be something along the lines of "rozumím". And the word for "I understand" in Polish? "Rozumiem".

I can also go one step further (now we're really getting into "Lorre, you should not be assuming this until you actually do some serious research" territory) and assume something about the first-person verb ending. In Polish, (one of the) present-tense first-person endings is an "m". "Rozumie" would be the stem of the word above. And take a look at the word for "I do not speak" - "Nemluvím". Removing the negative prefix, "I speak" would be "Mluvím". And for confirmation that this is an ending, I looked at the word for "you speak" - "Mluvíte". (Allow me to also point out the cognate in the "te" ending, identical in countless European languages, including one or two outside the Indo-European family.)

Anyway, my point is that "m" might be the first-person ending in both Polish and Czech.

*There also seem to be several grammatical similarities to Lithuanian. The one that made me go "Wow, holy crap!" (Honestly, I did think that. Yes, I do know I'm hopeless, thank you very much.) was that "ne": Lithuanian uses that negative prefix the same way Czech seems to. "I understand" = "Aš suprantu", while "I don't understand" = "Aš nesuprantu". Identical to the structure of "Nerozumím" or "Nemluvím".

*I already knew that Czech was gendered, but I wasn't sure how many it had. Slavic languages are pretty bad about gender - Polish has five genders that a word can be. I'm still not sure exactly how many Czech has, but  I now know it has at least three. You can deduce this if you look at the greetings for "Good morning", "good evening", and "good night". Each uses a different form of the adjective meaning "good":

"Dobré ráno"
"Dobrý večer"
"Dobrou noc"

*The number system seems as logical as they come. 11-19 all use their second number (i.e. "4" in 14) or modifications of it, plus the ending "-náct".

*Here's another one of those "I should probably research this" conjectures. There appears to be some sort of vowel gradation system used within the language. I take this from looking at the numbers.

"Five" = "Pět"
"Nine" = "Devět".

But, when the "náct" ending is added on, those "ě"s turn into "a"s.

"Fifteen" = "Patnáct"
"Nineteen" = "Devatenáct"

And that's all I have to say for now..although that was a lot of rambling. I will now proceed to do some actual studying on Czech, maybe see if I can confirm some of my theories. Actually, wait, I have one last observation:

*Czech seems like a very nice language. It may be conventionally "difficult", but then so are 99% of the languages I like. I have a strong feeling I'll be studying it for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment