https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

Czech and Russian

I am a native Russian speaker, and since both languages are from the same language group it often makes learning Czech easier. I can understand concepts absent from the English language as well as the meaning of words that can have several very different translations. However there are times when I wish I didn't know Russian, for example, matka is uterus in Russian, which makes any sentence about mother in Czech very, very uncomfortable. Also, words chalupa and chata have a very different meaning in Russian. Chata is a slang for the house you typically live in, while chalupa is a word mostly found in literary works that means an old, dilapidated house of a poor person which is basically opposite of what it means in Czech. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

1 month ago

51 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Whole books could be written about these "false friends" (so-called zrádná slova) between different Slavic languages. живот & život, красный & krásný, ужасный & úžasný, ложный & ložní come to mind, and you'll come across hundreds more. For a linguist, it's stimulating and amusing, so try and look at it that way.

I've had the pleasure to know plenty of Russians who learnt great Czech while living in Prague, and I'd say the pros of knowing Russian far outweigh the cons of a little language cross-interference.

btw to some degree you can avoid the hard-edged matka outside of formal settings - most Czechs would say something like moje máma or mamka, and you'll even hear grown men talk about their or your "maminka".

chalupa could be all sorts of cottage-house, it might be a nice residence, but it could equally be a run-down hovel by the back road in Dolní Lhota ;-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 16
  • 14
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 728

in old Russian красный used to mean the same thing as krásný (that's where Красная Площадь comes from)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
Mod
  • 20
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 7

But even Russians might know that живот вечный is not a belly. At least Google shows it in many religious texts.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

Yeah, I agree, those little things is what makes learning new languages interesting, along with how every single language, no matter how similar it may be to another, has something unique. Russian is not the only language with these kind of words that have different meaning in Czech. Verb pamatuju, for example reminds me of Latvian pamatoju (I prove)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/svrsheque

another fun thing is to recognize words in a "foreign" slavic language as clearly relating to archaic words in one's own. czechs and slovaks probably have their mutual exposure to the often different word roots in the other language as an extra advantage for this. even more so the older folks who lived in the federation and were compelled to "learn" russian.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Good to see the linguists are, indeed, stimulated and amused :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Czech and Slovene (my native language) have a lot of false friends. For example (ordered from more "innocent" ones to funny /bizarre ones):

chytrý (smart) vs. hitri (fast)
zapomenout (to forget) vs. zapomniti (to remember)
chlapec (a boy) vs. hlapec (a servant)
otrok (a slave) vs. otrok (a child)
kadit (to poop) vs. kaditi (to smoke)
foukat (to blow) vs. fukat (to have sex, informal)

How about that? :D

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/svrsheque

i think slovene is a nice slavic language to have in one's portfolio because it is rather conservative and retained things lost in other slavics.

where would you feel bystrý (sharp, as in of sharp mind) might fit in this? my meager russian tells me that there is the same smart/fast thing buried in the distant joined past.

in czech, pomni still survives as the archaic alternative to pamatuj. most of this beautiful old fragment is a comprehension challenge today:

pomni na smrt, kdež jsi koli, ač sic tebe i nebolí

oh, kadidlo is still "incense", and čadit, čoudit and čudit survive as expressive alternatives to kouřit (and č(m)oud is an expressive synonym for the noun kouř, among other things).

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Ah yes, Slovene is most beautiful :3

I should add I'm fairly new to Czech and still lack proper vocabulary so I just pulled out few words for which I mostly knew some interesting stories ... I didn't even know that bystrý existed and what meaning it had. Bister (masc.) in Slovene is rather rarely used, mostly we use it (1) for children, who are smart, good learners, sort of "naturally clever" or (2) for the clarity of a water(body), such as "wow, the water in this creek is so clear we surely can drink it!" We never use it in the context of sharp and/or fast.

The first part of the fragment I understand ("Be conscious / remind yourself of your death, wherever you are ...), but that ač sic part confuses me a little ...

Thanks for the info on kadidlo (ours kadilo) and stuff. Hah, I found another false friend: When we say čuditi, we mean to wonder :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
Mod
  • 20
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 7

We might be able understand čuditi because it is present in Slovak as čudovať sa.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

To je teda čudné ;-) So, along with its Czech counterpart divný, showing how these terms for "strange" are rooted in "something to wonder at" (čudovať sa / divit se). And then the Czech's pointing back to Proto-Slavic divъ, for "miracle", and we're getting ever closer to Latin divus - godlike, divine, and Sanskrit deva for the same concept.

Who, when they say this is a divný svět, reflects that along with a strange world they're also sort of saying it's a miraculous and wonderful one :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

I love these comparisons and how I had never thought about following the roots of divný (or our diven) all the way to Latin or Sankrit. There are believably huge connections between Slavic languages and Sanskrit ... but that's a whole new topic for a whole new discussion. Jazyky jsou také divné! :)

Let me just quickly reply you again with some Slovene words:
čuden = weird, strange
čudež = a miracle
čudežen = miraculous
čudovit = diven (archaic and almost obsolete, still used only in poetry) = wonderful

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Wow, you are amazing! Are you a linguist by profession or (just) an enthusiast? :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

I'll surely post some more interesting and/or funny connections as I'll travel further down (up?) the Czech tree ;)

By the way – and this is a bit off-topic, since it's not about Czechoslovene discoveries – I was just reading something related to India and I remembered you mentioning Sanskrit deva (or devi for that matter) ... well, we have really old-fashioned deva and modern devica, which both mean a virgin. How about that? ;)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Excellent additions, we'll get that book done yet! :-)

Yup, it's all about the "wondering". I've found two etymologies for the pan-Slavic čud-, one pointing to a proposed Indo-European root in keud-, that would connect it with the Greek kudos - glory - something that makes you wonder in admiration, the other through čuť to PIE (s)kewh (perceive, observe), that would lead through skauniz to a Germanic descendent in schön - beautiful - again something that makes you stare in wonder. So similarly as with div-, the root concept seems to be about marvelling, or gazing in wonder at something, whether in awe at a miracle, or because it's out of the ordinary and therefore strange.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Thanks! I've really been enjoying your contributions too.

Oh goodness no, this is just my idea of fun, or one such (I did study a bit of linguistics, many a year ago :-)) Keep us updated on your Czechoslovene discoveries, and we'll get to the bottom of them!

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

That's a particularly interesting case. Of course, words for girls/young women beginning děv- are pan-Slavic, and the general interpretation is that they come from a root děva that connects with Sanskrit and has meanings to do with suckling or giving milk.

But this is a bit odd, given that the derived words are used for a young (virginal) girl, unless it was so common for young girls to be milkmaids that this sense got fixed.

So, a tempting alternative etymology is that the initial děv- part is a contracted form derived from an adjective dě[to]-voj-na, where děto- is "child" and voj- is "wanting, desiring", as in modern Czech vůle (will) and various Slavic verbs in volit-, meaning "want, desire". So "wanting a child". And I'm afraid that's pretty much all a virgin was seen to be, for much of history................

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

that ač sic part confuses me a little ...

Someone with some real expertise in medieval Czech might correct me, but my stab at that line would be "ačkoli nic tě nebolí"

pomni na smrt, kdež jsi koli, ač sic tebe i nebolí

Be mindful of death, wheresoe'er thou be / Albeit no hurt yet troubleth thee. :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Niceee, thanks! So this is some kind of medieval Slavic memento mori :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nueby
Mod
  • 25
  • 24

I do not even play a real expert in medieval Czech on TV, but I agree with your stab. Just to add for those interested, the author's notes on the more obscure meanings in those two old Czech poems in the same book (here) say

ač sic (rks., syt nicz) ... = ať třeba jinak (takto, přece) nepociťuješ bolesti

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Thanks! Don't be so modest, though. I'm sure you could play an expert in medieval Czech on TV if you wanted to :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

where would you feel bystrý (sharp, as in of sharp mind) might fit in this? my meager russian tells me that there is the same smart/fast thing buried in the distant joined past.

That's a really tough question. There's a neat map of how Proto-Slavic bystrъ has spread out semantically and geographically here.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Very nice collection. Don't ask me why, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that that last Slovene example might not be from a Slavic root, but a slightly more recent import... ;-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Haha, I know, I know ... ;) I wrote that one just for fun - it's definitely THE most popular false friend in Slovenia, even among the people who - apart from that word - don't know any Czech at all. You wouldn't believe it's so familiar that it's appearing in our jokes, sometimes even tv shows and, well, it never gets old when somebody wants to make people laugh in a bar :p

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
Mod
  • 20
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 7

Then you might like Zafúkané https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU76aTiFcr8

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psihonavt_6
  • 24
  • 16
  • 16
  • 10
  • 10
  • 5
  • 5
  • 117

Hahaha, nooooooo! :D Where has this been whole my life?! Thanks! :D

p.s.: If we would say zafukal that would mean to f.uck up sth / to make a really big mess and/or mistake.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maya943954
  • 17
  • 11
  • 189

"However there are times when I wish I didn't know Russian, for example, matka is uterus in Russian, which makes any sentence about mother in Czech very, very uncomfortable. " <-- hahahahahaha... this made my day!!

I have noticed that I can start to identify words when I overhear Russian speakers... a fun thing about learning Czech.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/svrsheque

to prevent loss of limb, don't forget to escape your right forearm :-)

we had a discussion of the more amusing aspects of the beautiful/red false friends, as seen in the flag scene in Kolya:

K: Наш красный!

L: Prosím tě, co je na tom krásnýho, dyť je to červený jako trenýrky. Náš je krásnej!

K: Наш красный!

L: Ale di, rozumíš tomu jako koza petrželi.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

lmao, a quick update. I was taking the 'clothes' lesson in Czech and there was a word kalhoty, which instantly reminded me of a Russian word колготки (pronounced kalgotky), so I opened a wiki article about them and it turns out колготки actually is a loanword from the Czech language. However, instead of meaning pants, it means pantyhose. I mean, what?

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Ale pozor! :-) kalhoty is trousers, but kalhotky is women's underwear! - knickers, or pants/panties :-)

Supposedly all from some historical Italian high military boots that had cloth running up the thighs - "caligotti" :S

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

Sooo there is kalhoty - trousers, kalhotky - knickers, and a loanword from kalhoty - колготки - pantyhose. btw, there isn’t a word for kalhotky in Russian

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

You wouldn't use трусики ?

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

No, I’d say it is only used when talking with your child who doesn’t want to wear them, you could say Одень трусики! but in any other contest it just sounds funny because words with a suffix ик or something like that (not an expert on Russian grammar) are called уменьшительно-ласкательные and are meant to make an object seem smaller and/or cuter (thus children like them more). I would say just трусы or женские трусы if it’s important that they are for women. But even then I’d only use it in an informal setting, and would say (женское) нижнее белье (underwear) otherwise.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Yup, Czech is slightly more inclined to cutesifying with the diminutives - although, as we see here, care must be taken :-)

Thanks for the tip on трусы. I think I'm most likely to have to use the term in an informal setting.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ryanaissance

Chalupa?

/runs to taco bell

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/A.Igor
  • 25
  • 25
  • 22
  • 22
  • 21
  • 21
  • 19
  • 17
  • 16
  • 15
  • 15
  • 15
  • 15
  • 12
  • 12
  • 5
  • 2
  • 17

it is prononced differently. In spanish transliteration it would be 'jalupa' but it also has that meaning :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LobstaJohnson

Whereas in the states and Mexico, a chalupa is a delicious dish made by pressing a thin layer of masa dough around the outside of a small mold, in the process creating a concave container resembling the boat of the same name, and then deep frying the result to produce crisp, shallow corn cups. These are filled with various ingredients such as shredded chicken, pork, chopped onion, chipotle pepper, red salsa, and/or green salsa.

:-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Okay, you get a lingot for making me salivate :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CountGoldbeast

Привет Dont worry, its only "false friends". As native Russian the czech grammar wont be that much of an Issue, and about 30% of the vocabulary is (almost) the same, and the words in Czech sound more related to russian today then in polish for example.

Actually I think that czech is way, way more related to german then to russian. How do you say things, and even the syntax is very, very similar. Even though modern Russian is using today way more "germanisms" and closer to standard-german then in czech today.

To make it easier for a slavic native speaker, I would recommend just to try to think about it "more general", in the romance languages and also the germanic languages you have words that come from the same historical root, but how they are used and altered depends on the context, and in countries with a lot of dialects it can differ even from regions. - I started to learn russian a little after Czech, and im always looking when I learn new words for the root, then you have something to associate the new word with which helps to memorise and to understand easier related words.

And in Russian I have to be more carefull with sentences with my our your or anybody elses Mother. ^^

Chata is from german "Hütte" in english Hut. For хата as slang for "at home" a czech would use "barak".

In German house is haus, and a small house, a chata, домик would be "häusl" in bavarian, which can mean also Latrine/Toilet, the czechs use it as "haisl" almost only as swearing word.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nueby
Mod
  • 25
  • 24

We use hajzl not only as a slang word for the toilet, but also as a derogatory term (almost always) for a male, about on the level of [donkeyopening] in English.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

And from the first meaning there's hajzlbába, the (old) lady who asks you for 5 crowns and cleans the urinal while you're still using it. Perhaps "toilet lady" in English, although, of course, far more charming than both would be the French - Madame Pipi :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
Mod
  • 20
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 7

I wouldn't say Czech is more related to German, but it is certainly a part of the central-european Sprachbund or the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Average_European

Not all the languages listed above show all the listed features, so membership in SAE can be described as gradient. Based on nine of the above-mentioned common features, Haspelmath regards French and German as forming the nucleus of the Sprachbund, surrounded by a core formed by English, the other Romance languages, the Nordic languages, and the Western and Southern Slavic languages.

Hungarian, the Baltic languages, the Eastern Slavic languages, and the Finnic languages form more peripheral groups.

In this very specific sense German is closer to Czech than Russian indeed, because these features are often spreading horizontally and do not originate in Proto Indo-European. Latin, for example, is completely out even though it is a predecessor of French, the nucleus language. But when it comes to features that come from Proto Germanic and and Proto Slavic, like the declination system and vocabulary, it is clear that Russian and Czech have the same origin and only a some borrowings from Germanic.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Yup, I don't think too many people would say Czech is closer to German than Russian on a general linguistic level, despite the generous cross-border sprinkling of germanismy.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Chata is from german "Hütte"

The relationship between Hütte and chata/хата isn't too clear - i.e. whether one came from the other, or both come from an earlier common root. Good sources speculate about a Hungarian or even Iranian source. The fact that the term is widespread across Slavic lands makes it a little less likely it's a simple import from the Germanic.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CountGoldbeast

Its not necessary an "import", in the area of czech republic today lived till the end of ww2 millions of german speakers, in poland, ukraine and russia lived also german speakers (including yiddish) for centuries, some still do.
But their language was not "clear" standard german but a variety of dialects, so you would have also heared things like "chütte", "Hut´n" "Chuttn", also with a lot of loan words from slavic languages. In the austrian dialects you find today also words from czech/slovak. And between czech/ukrainean/german to russian the х-ch-h ist often replaced with g г, and the other way around.

Its often not that clear to separate, the languages are older as the now mostly mono-ethnical states and borders in central and eastern europe.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Okay... so in your view, then, how did these borderland folk come to be using this word chütte or some such?

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CountGoldbeast

Dialects are regional thing, if a group of people starts just to pronounce some words in a different way, other people and their children adapt to it. It becomes a standard, in small languages with only a few million speakers such "regional" vocabulary can become very quick an "official" standard compared to big languages like Russian, English, German etc.

If you would make "austro-bavarian" an own standard it would be as hard as Czech, the grammar is different then in standard german, 3 cases are used mostly, but there exist also 7 (vocative, instrumental and locative forms like in czech and polish) , you could use actually the czech alphabet because sounds like ou and ř exist. And the vocabulary is also richer, because somebody from vienna would use differnt words then somebody from the bavorský les.

But surprising for me is that I can understand my grandfather that speaks like an 100 year old austrian dialect better since I learn czech, not because of the vocabulary but how he says something.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Yves--
  • 23
  • 215

Very interesting. I'll have to look into this Austro-Bavarian.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IssaEmir

there are some confusing words like pozor and devka in czeck language

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
Mod
  • 20
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 7

позорный is very confusing.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirashh

Yeah, I always felt like I did something wrong every time I saw a giant “Pozor!” sign visiting Czech Republic

1 month ago
Learn Czech in just 5 minutes a day. For free.