Monday, June 12, 2006

Practice makes...

Just in case my comment in the last post about mangling Czech at my long-suffering colleagues led anyone to believe that I was suffering from delusions of adequacy in this language, here is a true and accurate account of this morning's efforts.

I have translated it into English with appropriate adjustments for accent, vocabulary and the conversational style and panache of a voluble 3-year old going through that phase where they say the same thing over and over and over and over again, possibly accompanied by rhythmic beating on a saucepan. And I'm probably making myself look good here.

Me: Gott mourning, Janoš*
J: Good morning.
Me: Hello-jour, JanOhš?
J: Hello.
Me: How ere yeuh, Janoš?
J: Who's been here before. Fine, and you?
Me: We- Weh- Whee- Fine.
J: Can no longer speak as breathing and speech organs fully compressed by fit of hysterical laughter.

I turn to my new victim. He is hiding under his desk but fortunately I am still able to shout in the direction of his feet:

Me: Good morning, Pre- Pzh- Prshemsyl.*
P: In muffled but fluent English. You can say Premek, it's easier.
Me: Still in English. No, it's okay. I have to practice.
P: Sighing noise drifts up from under desk. It's Přemysl.
Me: Pzhhrrremyls. No hang on, Przhm- PrzhemSYL.
P: Sobbing noise emerges from beneath desk. That's right. Swiftly changes subject. In Czech: How are you?
Me: Hello. How are you?
P: Fine. And you?
Me: We- Weh- Wherh- WELLuhgh.

(Still more peculiar noises emerge from beneath desk, but Přemysl is trapped by his ergonomic office chair and cannot move without tearing his trousers 'neath my dainty foot.)

Me: Goudd wheekEND?
P: Yes, thank you. And you?
Me: Yes. Yes, I have a goudd wheekEND. (Cannot do past tense yet). On sotto voce: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, SAT- Saturday I wakeuppp 5 hours 30 minutes (note: digital time only). We go to metro stay-shUN. In English: No, wait… In approximate Czech: STYA-shun. (Bangs desk with with fist to emphasise required stress on first syllable). We read. We swim. We ski. In English: What's "wait"?
P: In Czech. Wait.
Me: We wait. Our... In English: oh shit, what's friend?
P: In Czech. Friend.
Me: Our frie- rzfi- compani-onions they come. We go-by-vehicle (Czech verb for "to go" depends on transport used) tah Florenc. We-nous-allons-go-by-vehicckle Karlovy Vary. We walke Karlovy Vary. We walke Loket. 18 kilometre. We are big hongryie. We eat Loket.We slep slope, in English: oh dammit. Back to Czech for foreign idiots: SLEETP! We wakeoupppp. We walke Loket. We sees castle. We go. On, muttering: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, resonant and booming: SUN-day we walk... in English: shit sorry, more Czech for idiot foreigners: go-by-vehicckle Prajj.

(Looks round for reassurance and paeans of adulation. J is studiously at work, wearing headphones. Apart from the odd scuffling noise, there is silence from beneath desk.)

Me (soldiering on bravely, like good little Švejk): We go-by-vehicckle at 13 hour 0-50. In English: No wait, shit, ummmmm… Czech version 1.0: 15? 50? 500? 32? English: Oh yeah, Czech: 5!…. Hour 0-5. I am glad it hap-PY wheekehnd.

(Beams with exhausted pride at mastery of newest construction. Tears are running down Janoš' face. Přemysl appears to have abandoned his trousers and escaped by removing his desk drawers and the back of the stationary cupboard. Silence falls like a lead knedlik [potato dumpling]. Enter Maciek, pursued by a bear. Or was it bare?)

Me: Gott mournang, Maciek.*
M: In fluent English: I am Polish. I don't speak Czech.
Me: Tough. Goudd Mournzingg, Maciek.
M: Sighs. Realises efforts to fend me off with a rolled-up newspaper are in vain. Hello.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent victims of linguacide.

PS. Edited 'cos my opinion of my html skillz was a tad over-inflated and I messed up a load of the nested stuff, then did a double post. Sorry.


azteclady said...

Well, I'll be! *wiping tears of mirth from my face* EAP, you are one determined woman, my hat is off to you!

(And just think, next time Mr Pungent shows up, you'll know what he's telling you *wink*)

EvilAuntiePeril said...

I hadn't even thought of communicating with Mr. Pungent, azteclady. What an incentive!

azteclady said...

*contrite* Sorry, couldn't help myself (the evil imp is strong on Mondays)

Kate R said...

jesus, I just ruptured something. no honestly--my stomach hurts now.

Kate R said...

phrase that pays for me: molim da govarit polako. I think.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Thanks guys... know about that imp, oh yes. And will run your phrase by my polish colleagues, kate.

Mrs. Jana has staged a tactical retreat from verbs and we learned the names of fruits this morning. Lunch is gonna be fuuuuunnnn...

Candy said...

That was beautiful, EAP, beautiful.

As a reward: a picture that's almost as gay as that Richard Simmons picture that I posted, though really, nothing is gayer than Richard Simmons chained to a fork. NOTHING.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Thank you, Candy. I suspect that when I'm dead they'll find that picture of Richard Simmons engraved on my heart (with a fork, presumably). God, his face... his armpits... the chains...

And CHiPs? So true. But what was it with the 80s? Why am I only now seeing another side to many of my favorite childhood programmes (Greatest American Hero, anyone?)

Candy said...

NO! Ralph Hinkley was straight. STRAIGHT, DAMN YOU!

Unlike, say, George Takei.

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Bloody hellfire *covers eyes with hands*. Who could have ever imagined such a horror? From a crewman of the Enterprise, too? As if the tight uniforms weren't enough.

And yet... there were Mr. Shatner's and Mr. Nimoy's somewhat ill-advised pop hits. All we need is Scotty in a thong (that was not a challenge, btw) for the full set.

dainfomaster said...

Svejk? There is a new English translation of Svejk underway. Book One is out as a paperback, Books One and Two have been published as an e-book. Books Three and Four are being edited for publication. To learn more and to buy follow the links below. :-)

Get "svejked" [shvaked] at
Visit the Svejk Central pilot site at