We're not going to lie to you: the Czech language is VERY hard for English speakers to get to grips with. We won't go into all the complicated reasons why (...cases, declensions, conjugations, participles, tongue-twisting pronunciation...) just trust us: Czech is a nightmare for all but the most linguistically talented students! Of course all this really means that it is all the more impressive when you do successfully utter even a few words in the Slavic tongue...
There are a whole range of Czech words that look roughly similar to their English equivalents, so signs such as POLICIE, RESTAURACE, HOTEL, and TAXI won't be a problem for you, but here are a handful of others that may be useful:
Kavarna - Cafe
Knihkupectvi- Book Shop
Obchod - Shop
Prasa - Newsagent
Pusobiste - Station
Letiste - Airport
Even if you're only here for a short while you should be able to master one or two of the basics. Pretty much every Czech person you meet (i.e. those working in shops, hotels, restuarants etc) will speak English, and certainly virtually all young people will too, but the locals will like you better if you at least make the effort; don't be at all surprised to find that the level of service improves noticably after you give Czech a try, even if you massacre the pronounciation!
Tony from United Kingdom Reply
Czech is really difficult language, I hate their ř which is so hard for me to pronounce, but with a good training you can improve really quickly. I paid some courses in Czech Language Training in Prague (czlt.cz) and I cannot believe how quickly I got better! Of course I still have this "massacre pronunciation", but I must admit that it is great when my Czech friends appreciate that I try.
JBYoung from United States Reply
I'm learning basic Czech now so that when I hike through the country two years from now, I can make the most of my experience. I also want to show people I meet that Americans are not what the negative stereotypes say, and that we don't just go there for the beer (which, I've heard, is wonderful). To Ernie Crispin: You make my country look bad. Before you criticize the way Czechs speak English, you should take the time to brush up on your own. I envy you for going to Prague, but I'm sad you didn't make the most of it by respecting the people.
Martin Bene from United States Reply
Well, you, who wants to learn Czech, listen: Do not star with that. I was born in Czech, my 1st language was Czech, so i know that language and i have to say: almost the czechs have problem to speak right (gramatic). There are many rules and so on. I learn english, french, latin, i look at gramatic of klingon, but I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING AS HARD AS CZECH!
Mary Slavicek from United States Reply
My father, george slavicek's parents were from Bohemia. My father spoke it, but I was too little to know it; remember it. trying to learn it now via BYKI dvd.
Ed [Eda] from United States Reply
Czech I am of Czech decent and Czech was my 1st language. I tookmy aunt and uncle To the Czech Republis to see where the parents came from.[we still have relatives there] We spoke American Czech not the proper Czech. I had to ask to speak a little slower. However We looked American but when they found out we of Czech decent and spoke Cezch; Oh what a delight.
Marië Pojerová from Netherlands Reply
Well, Im a Czech living years in the Netherlands, but I can see strange words in your list, namely: Prasa- Newsagent, Pusobiste- Station. This is completely nonsense. Prasa likes a bit of prase and this is a pig. Maybe it could be newsagency Česká tisková kancelář (ČTK)? In PRAHA (Prague in English)? Station it had to be Nádraí! Pusobiste means namely a place of ..or location.
Pamela from Australia Reply
I tried to teach myself czech for many years but the grammar finally defeated me. When I visited Cz Rep I couldn't understand a word. Very disappointing.
Tilly from United States Reply
I wouldn't judge Americans by Ernie's silly comment. At any rate, a real American would know how to spell McDonald's. ;) It would be very helpful to know if there's a recommended program of study to learn Czech. My grandparents gave me the Czech heritage and I'd like to honor that by learning the language.
ss from United Kingdom Reply
In response to Mr.Ernie Crespin. I think you are the one who should learn their language and Not vice-versa! All your comment is nonsense to me. What has capitalism got to do with anything?
Roslyn Raney from United States Reply
I wish no ill to the people of Uzbekistan or anyone else. America isn't perfect, but we finally (after 8 years of Bush hell) have a fine president. And, now that I have had my say, why don't we get back on topic. I am learning Czech as a hobby and that is why I visited this page!
Ariella from Russia Reply
Czech language sounds so nice! It's so soft and kind. And it has so much in common with my native language (Russian). I speak 6 languages (Hebrew and Chinese are among them), so believe me: Czech is not the most difficult one to study, just enjoy it! )))
Romèa from Czech Republic Reply
Ahoj, jsem z Ostravy a myslím e se mùe øíci i dìkuju :o) Hallo, I´m from Ostrava and I think that we can say dìkuju.
Rado from Czech Republic Reply
Well, you people should stay on topic. Some Ernie wrote some crap and whole topic went south just to answer to his post :) Ignore such posts is best way to give such bad person hard lesson :) So, back on topic. I lived in usa nearly 5 years and I found english less complicated than czech, but english is hard to pronounce. Marcia wrote czech has less words that all mean the same thing. Let me show you something. In english you say "sun" and it is sun. Maybe big sun or little sun but in czech we can say slunce, slunko, sluníčko and all of that mean sun. And big sun? Well :) velké slunce, veliké slunko. So we have more options but it give us oportunity to say more closely what we mean. In usa I had all time feeling I could use just few words and let other people figure out what I mean. Little note for owner of this page: we are czech and we say thank you as děkuji. I can never understand how people from Prague and around where they have Charles University can screwing our language so much. Hezkej (nice) dobrej (good) děkuju (thanks) is slang and they should say hezký, dobrý, děkuji.
Aaron E. from United States Reply
Shame on you Ernie Crespin! I think that you're not even a real American! Czech republic is a beautiful country!!!
FBI from United States Reply
Uncle Sam is watching you Mr Ernie.
Julie from United States Reply
If I had to guess, "Ernie" is not a native American because his use of English is terrible. "Worst" is "worse" Ernie. Learn English before you start bashing other languages.
Austin Abroad from United States Reply
I'm from the United States and Ernie embarrasses me. It's people like him that give the rest of us a bad reputation. Sad.
D from Czech Republic Reply
Ernie Ernie, i know why i don¥t like Americans. . . you are all too lazy to learn another language. .
Marcia from United States Reply
Wow, Ernie, who put bitter lemon in your coffee this a.m.? You criticize Czech and Slovak and think they welcomed the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968? Czech and Slovak are beautiful languages, far less complicated than English, less vowels to contend with, less words that all mean the same thing, like English. Perhaps you should pick on another nationality, like maybe, your own?
erds from Romania Reply
I'm from Romania and find czech hard but not impossible,romanian has some slavic influences so words like 'narod' or 'prieten' are also present,if you speak english and want to study romanian it's much easier since you'l find it's a romanic language
Sonny from Netherlands Reply
Czech is a wonderful language, and not so hard if you just listen and don't try to read it (at first) - To hear & pratice a few words before you arrive, try the "Quick Fix - Essential holiday phrases" mp3 download at the BBC Languages website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/czech.shtml) The more you try, the more fun you'll have & the more people you'll meet! (And they are really great people!;-)
Dora Simonffy from Hungary Reply
Ernie, you're a real american dumba_s!
Adrienne from Canada Reply
Helpful site thanks. Ernie- it's people like you that give Americans such a bad rap. I'm embarrassed to share the continent with someone as ignorant and rude as you are.
Deborah Bartlett from United States Reply
What an ignoramus Ernie Crispen is....it always shocks me how many "ugly Americans" are still out there. Try joining the human race, Ernie.
Ernie Crespin from United States Reply
My advice to the Czech is this: Learn English, you decided to go capitalist, so now you have no other choice. By the way,the best Mac Donals can be found in Prague. I don't really care about the Czech language. It sounds worst than Chinese.
Susan Dukes from United States Reply
I appreciate all info. I am really worried about the language thing. I always try to know some of the language of wherever I visit but Czech is daunting. I do wish that when there is a czech-english (like on your page) that there was also a phonetic pronounciation written beside it. Thank you.