Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Still not ded yet...

...just continuing to be a little preoccupied with learning a long list of names of animals in Czech. And some other stuff

This is of course, very handy since I now get to have really good conversations with Mrs. Jana:

"This vikend I wented to the zooooological park-u."
(This account of my extra-curricular activities is in fact a tissue of lies, constructed purely for the express purposes of showing off my animal-naming skills. Alas. I feel that Mrs. Jana and I will never have a true meeting of souls until the day arrives when I can describe my real freetime activities in Czech lessons.)
"Good. Did you see any animals?"
"Yes. I saw a giirraffe."
"Excuse me?"
"I saw a giraf-?" Her head shakes slowly.
"Girraph-?" More shaking.
"It's not giraffe?"
"No. You did not see a giraffe."
"I didn't?" Hang on... wasn't this my fictitious account of my artistically-enhanced-for-language-lesson-purposes weekend?
"No. You saw another animal."
"I did?" But they have giraffes in Prague zoo. I have seen them on posters.
"Yes. Another animal."
"Ummm... I saw a tygre?"
"No. You also did not see a tiger."
I am beginning to feel stalked.
"Yes. The tiger is too easy. The giraffe is also to easy. You saw another animal."
"Ohh..." My mental lightbulb goes "ding!". Giraffe in Czech is žirafa. The "ž" is pronounced like a French "j". Tiger is an even greater cop-out since it's tygr.
"I saw a rheeenouserousooos."
"Good. Talk about the rhinocerous."
"Um... it is big."
"It is more big."
"Yes. The rhynouceroos is bigger."
"Bigger than?"
"Umm... the rhynouceroos is bigger than... than... a cat?"
"No. Cat is too easy. What else?"
"Umm... the rhynouceroos is bigger than a moose. Mouse."
"Good. What else?"
"It is bigger..."
"No. Not bigger."
"It is not bigger..."
"No. It is something else. It is more dange..."

(The discerning reader might have noticed some time around the second "bigger" that we are also reviewing the comparative and superlative of adjectives. Sadly, I didn't catch on until about now. It's tricky. They get prefixed and suffixed. If those are words.)

"Dange... Dange... Oh! I know! It is more dangeroose... It is more dangerooose... thaaann... aaaa... pig!"
"It is also more expensive than a pig."*
"Excellent. Now. Tell me about the pig."

ad infinitum, or at least ad fortyfiveminutum

*This is, in fact, a cunning linguistic joke based on a well-known, hardcore Czech saying about something being "as expensive as a pig". My colleagues who taught it to me find it hilarious when I say it. Especially when I preface it with the classic and extremely pervasive Czech expression of astonishment/shock/disgust, "ty vole!"**. Taxi drivers find it it less amusing at about 1 in the morning.

**"Ty vole!" is probably worth a whole post of its own. Learning it opens whole new worlds of expressiveness. Well, at some point. Maybe.