Essential Czech: The Alphabet

Tuesdays are Czech days!

Last week, we learnt how to ask for a beer, a big beer, and a bunch of beers.

This week, we’ll focus on the alphabet. It’s almost as important.

[One day (but not today) I’ll stop mining Czechs’ alcohol consumption for comedic content.]

Unlike some other Slavic languages, like Russian and half of Serbian, Czech uses the Latin alphabet. This means that English speakers have a headstart on figuring out what the heck that sign says – although there are still some tricky characters, just to stop things from ever being too easy.


a

like the ‘a’ in father

á

long ‘a’ (hold the sound for two beats)

b

like any of the ‘b’s in bumblebee (pick your favourite)

c

like the ‘zz’ in pizza; a ‘ts’ sound

č

like the ‘ch’s in chili chicken or cheesey chips

d

like the first ‘d’ in deciduous

ď

like the second ‘d’ in deciduous

[Incidentally, deciduous was the first word beginning with ‘d’ that popped into my head. I’m absolutely thrilled that it happened to contain an example of both d and ď!]

e

like the ‘e’ in exotic

é

long ‘e’ (hold for two beats)

ě

‘ye’ as in yellow or yesterday or Yeltsin

f

like the ‘f’s in forensic fossilisation

g

like the ‘g’ in goat

h

like the ‘h’ in horrendous, except more dramatic, as if you’re trying to sigh in a passive aggressive way

ch

like the ‘ch’ in loch

i

like the ‘i’ in igloo

[The Czech word for igloo is iglú]

í

long ‘i’

j

like the ‘y’ in you

k

like the ‘k’ in kismatic

l

like the ‘l’s in lobster lasagne

m

like the ‘m’ in mundial

n

like the ‘n’s in nocturnal

ň

like the ‘ni’s in onion and bunion

o

like the ‘o’ in optical

p

like any of the ‘p’s in Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

r

this is trilled, like in Spanish

ř

augh, I hate this sound. It’s like a mixture of ‘r’ and ‘ž’, and, basically, I can’t do it.

s

like the ‘s’ and ‘c’ in severance

š

like the ‘sh’s in shanty shamrock

t

like the ‘t’ in tonsil

ť

like the ‘t’ in tumor

u

like the ‘u’ in but

ú, ů

long ‘u’

v

like any of the ‘v’s in V’s monologue in V for Vendetta (click here)

y

like the ‘y’ in synopsis

ý

long ‘y’

z

like the ‘z’ in zombie

ž

like the ‘s’ noise in measure

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s