Friday, October 27, 2006

New words for old.

Loanwords came up in the comments in my last post on things orthographic. I've mentioned the impact of Czech words on English once or twice, but have somewhat neglected the reverse process. And of course, what with English being the devious language-invading hydra that it is, there are a quite a few of them.

Despite the howls of outrage from language purists, English loanwords are no bad thing for the anglophone language learner. For one thing, it's always helpful to have bits and pieces of vocabulary that sound the same as words you know, but with a funny accent. It gives you something to say in those loooong, awkward pauses. And besides, the borrowing language often takes its revenge and shoves a few false friends in a learnerly direction.

Czech has four main groups of verbs that conjugate in similar ways, depending on the ending of the infintive (leaving out exceptions group here). The third group are verbs that end -ovat, and tend to be formed from nouns. Foreign imports tend to find their way into this category, which means that for nonce, my favorite activities in Czechland are the following. (At least as far as Mrs. Jana and our agonising Monday-morning, "What did you do this weekend?" conversation is concerned.):

luxovat (think Electrolux and hoovers)

(May have messed up some diacritics, but the accent on a vowel is meant to make it long.)

I like the "x" ones best. Long may they live. And may I humbly offer the following words at a modest rate of interest to the Czech language:

blingovat: to ornament oneself in a roccoco fashion
hardhatovat: to protect oneself from the consequences of defenestration
alfalfovat: to forage for green leafy vegetables in the supermarket
eskimovat: to buy flannel bedlinen
muffinovat: to over-indulge in palačinky - Czech pancakes
navelovat: to use one's higher consciousness to contemplate the texture of an orange

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