"Vidím kozy!"

Translation:I see goats!

September 7, 2017

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I hear something halfway between kozee and kozay/kozé. Is that right?


The Czech short vowel "i" and "y" (different letter, same sound) is always and everywhere pronounced as [ɪ] - a near-close front unrounded vowel, it's the same vowel as in the English word "fit".

It contrasts with the long vowel "í" and "ý", which is pronounced [i:] - a close front unrounded vowel, same as in the English word "feet".

This can be confusing for Polish or French speakers (among others), but it's very easy and natural for English speakers.

(The situation is slightly different in some Eastern regions of the Czech Republic, where the short "i" is narrower and the long "í" has to be slightly longer to maintain contrast, but that's a matter of dialects.)


Your ear does not lie. As a french I hear it between é and i also. And it is : https://cs.wiktionary.org/wiki/kozy

The czech y is pronounced [I] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-close_near-front_unrounded_vowel

In the IPA vowel diagram you can see it is right in the middle also. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vowel_diagram

But when it is the long form it goes back to our classic i : https://cs.wiktionary.org/wiki/vysok%C3%BD

I hope I am not saying wrong informations as I am not a czech specialist.


I have a hard time hearing the difference between kozy and koze. Any tips?
It seems that endings in <-e> are sometimes pronounced /jə/, even if there is no haček to be seen. Would that be the case with koze?


Phonetically, "kozy" is pronounced [kozɪ] (or usually [kɔzɪ] in Bohemia), while "koze" is pronounced [kozɛ] (or [kɔzɛ]). The pronunciation of "i/y" is shifted towards the center (just like in English "bit", "sit" etc.) and "e" is lower (more open) than [e], so both vowels are different from German /i/ and /e/.

The "-e" endings are never pronounced /je/, much less /jə/. Only groups "bě", "pě", "vě" are pronounced [bjɛ], [pjɛ], [vjɛ] respectively. Perhaps the current TTS is misleading you, it sounds quite metallic.


No, the ponumciation is always /kozi/ for kozy and /koze/ for koze.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_phonology#Vowels for additional information about Czech vowels (in addition to our Tips and notes).


Thank you both for the link to the vowel chart and for the explanation of centralisation of /ɪ/ in Czech. I guess I'll just need to keep listening until I can categorize it correctly. Maybe I'll get there sooner if I remember that there is no /ə/ in the Czech vowel chart...

BTW: This is what I (falsely) remembered as being about /jə/:
[0:50] is about the different pronunciation of di/ti/ni and dy/ty/ny. That's about the only thing from this video that I have understood so far, but I'm working on it!


Yes, there is no /ə/ in Czech. Czechs only make that sound when thinking about what to say next (similar to British English "err...")

The short "i" and "y" are pronounced exactly the same (except for a few dialects in Northern Moravia that have partially kept the difference in pronunciation, which became lost in standard Czech some 500 years ago, but is still maintained in Polish - and there is some influence from Polish in Northern Moravia). Both letters are pronounced [ɪ] in standard Czech and most dialects, between [i] and the central schwa [ə]. The long "í" and "ý", however, are pronounced [i:] - more frontal and higher than the short vowel. Since there is a difference in quality (centeredness), the difference in quantity (duration) between "i/y" and "í/ý" is usually smaller than in other short/long vowel pairs (which don't differ in quality), and the long "í/ý" vowel often becomes half-long [i.] in casual speech.

Now, about consonants. Czech has three dental/alveolar stops: /d/, /t/, /n/ and also three palatal stops – spelled "Ď/ď", "Ť/ť", "Ň/ň", IPA has these symbols for them: [ɟ], [c], [ɲ] respectively. The following difference between "i/í" and "y/ý" is a matter of orthography (historical reasons): When "d, t, n" are followed by "i/í", we pronounce them as palatals: "di, ti, ni" = /ďi, ťi, ňi/ = [ɟɪ, cɪ, ɲɪ] respectively. When they are followed by "y/ý", they remain dental/alveolar (unchanged): "dy, ty, ny" = /di, ti, ni/ = [dɪ, tɪ, nɪ].

A similar thing happens with "ě" - it's pronounced the same as "e", that is [ɛ], but it changes the previous consonant or adds a consonant, like this: "dě, tě, ně, bě, pě, vě, mě" = /ďe, ťe, ňe, bje, pje, vje, mňe/ = [ɟɛ, cɛ, ɲɛ, bjɛ, pjɛ, vjɛ, mɲɛ].

(Note: orthography/spelling in "...", phonological transcription in /.../ – how we would write it without the historical spelling convention, phonetical transcription in [...] – the sounds that are actually produced)

What you see in the video that you linked, besides the difference between di/ti/ni and dy/ty/ny (it's true for dí/tí/ní vs. dý/tý/ný as well), is what Czech children learn at school. Since "i/í" and "y/ý" sound the same, we have to learn as children when to write which. We always write "i/í" (so-called "měkké i") after ž, š, č, ř, c, j. We write "y/ý" (so-called "tvrdé y" or "ypsilon") after h, ch, k, r. Loanwords may break these rules, e.g. "kino", "chiméra", "riviéra", or "cysta". Then we have a set of letters that can be followed both by "i" or "y": b, l, m, p, s, v, z - we usually write "i" here, unless the word is on a list, which we have to memorize - the most common words on the list are: "my" (we), "vy" (you), also the prefix "vy-" (out-, German prefix aus-), and the verb "být" (to be) - as opposed to "bít" (to strike/beat). The remaining consonantal letters are: f, g, q, x, w – but these practically only occur in loanwords (with the exception of "doufat" and "foukat", which don't have an "i/y" anyway), so here the word is borrowed into Czech with either "i" or "y" from the original language (often from Greek).


I told my Czech girlfriend this, and she seemed annoyed somehow..

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