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Does Czech have many or any German cognates?

I as ask as it is in close proximity to Germany and Austria.

October 6, 2017



Years ago I was in a Czech class with an Austrian classmate and she often noted that words were used in Austrian German, though not High German. Our teacher said that at the time of the Austro-Hungarian empire a lot of Czechs went to work, often as cooks, in what's now Austria and therefore there's a Czech influence on both Austrian cuisine and the vocabulary for talking about food.


Czech has many loanwords from German, some have assimilated pretty well, but a large part is colloquial or slang.


From what I've seen, surprisingly few. I'm actually more surprised about the number of words with French origins such as volant, kapota, šéf, kotleta, bufet, blamáž, pláž, kastrol, etc


I found http://www.triolinguale.eu/userfiles/file/germanismy_cz.pdf -- my native language is german so I to me it's funny to see familiar german words in czech spelling. I wouldn't use them because I'm never sure about the register, i.e. how colloquial, slang or regional they are, and if I would sound extremely weird (or even offensive) when I used them as a learner of czech.

I have already noticed that there are many proverbs and fixed expressions which are very similar between czech and german. Of course right now I can't think of examples.


You're right to be careful, I looked at the list and only a few of them are neutral (and used e.g. in books or newspapers).

Yes, there are many similar proverbs and expressions, apparently translated directly. E.g. Augenblick = okamžik.


I've noticed some of those direct translations, presumably created when Czech was being resurrected in the 19th century. Ones I noticed were 'výlet' (meaning 'trip' and literally 'out-flight') which seems be a direct translation from German 'ausflug'; and 'výfuk' (meaning 'car exhaust' and literally 'out-blow') seemingly from the German 'auspuf' (or is it 'auspuff'?).


That is a great list. I actually found a lot of them that I would consider correct proper Czech and looked up some at the Academy of science and sure they are. I had no idea "akorát" was from German. And I only came across one that I would be careful to use "frajle". They claim it equal Fraulein. It did 150 years ago. Today it has a meaning of an arrogant tawdry woman.


I am also going to praise your instinct as to register on this one. While many Germanisms are readily understood, they tend to exist in the "common" layer of Czech, still awaiting codification into the standard (which may never come for some). For example, for now akorát remains non-standard. http://prirucka.ujc.cas.cz/?slovo=akor%C3%A1t shows:

akorát přísl. n it l ob. zrovna, právě; přesně

That ob. in there is a key piece of data, standing for "obecná", or "common". It is not enough to find the word in the Internet Language Reference Book when determining if the word is codified; one must also check those flags. In this case no harm done if you use it, except foreign students will likely engage in mixing of slangy and bookish expressions and just sound like parodies instead of cool and hip.

Some Germanisms unfortunately are worse than just a slippery slope to being goofy, like http://prirucka.ujc.cas.cz/en/?slovo=ksicht. Ksicht has much closer to someone's "clock" you think needs cleaning than to the neutral "face". I am pretty sure that attitude issue is absent in Gesicht.

  • 2008

There are tons of them, I am Czech and when I started to learn German I was pleased to find out how much it was gonna help me. Some people don't know so many of them though.

There are many words that actually assimilated into the Czech language and are the part of normal Czech: https://goo.gl/dgFfTf

Then there are many other words used on coloquial level. Some people know/use many of them, some less. Very typical words that everybody (?) will use are:

máš recht - du hast recht - you are right

máš pech - du hast pech - you are unlucky

fabrika - Fabrik - factory

kšeft - Geschäft - business

vercajk - Werkzeug - tool

Arguably less known but the ones I like:

plac - Platz - place / space

si špica (germanism in east moravian dialect ;-) ) - du bist Spitze - you are great / the best

zašprajcovat se - comes from "spreizen", means either to get stuck (physically) or to refuse to do something


i am not sure exactly how many but i can comfortably say anglicized and german cognates combined would land you around 400 or 500 words :)


Generally there are more German words in spoken layer of the language (e.g. words like flaška, ksicht, erteple, fabrika, vercajk etc. - none of them appears in literal Czech). Also very common is that we took German expressions/words and translated them to Czech, so they don't really sound German but they are from German. Those are for example počítač (Rechner) or mrakodrap (wolkenkratzer). I would say that there are actually more those than direct German words in Czech. I don't have any hard data, but in comparison with Polish Czech seems to have less direct German words. See such examples in Polish as dach, urlop, szlaban, burmistrz, ratusz, szyld, luka, szyba, stempel, drukować etc... All of them have are completely different in Czech.

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