The international service of Czech Radio 
17-11-2019, 02:12 UTC
Living Czech

How Czechs greet each other

Listen in RealAudio: Streaming - Download

Hello and welcome to another in our series of programmes on the Czech language. I am here with Daniela Lazarova. As I promised last week, our theme for today's show is: how Czechs greet each other, when they meet and when they part, both formally and informally, and at different times of the day.

As concerns formal greetings, the most common of these is "Dobrý den!", which means good day. This is a universal term and is used throughout the day. For more specific times of the day we have, "Dobré ráno!", which means "good morning", but I should point that this is for the early morning, probably up until about 9a.m. Further to this, there is "Dobré jitro!", which is for even earlier, say the early, early morning. Considering the Czechs are notoriously early risers, these two variations are used quite frequently. In the afternoon Czechs say "Dobré odpoledne!", and at night, "Dobrou noc!".

Informal greetings vary in origin. A truly Czech expression "Nazdar!", is of Slovanic origin, and is linked to the verb "daøit se", to do well, or prosper. When Czechs say "Ahoj!" upon meeting, as well as on parting, apparently few of them are aware that this word most likely found its way into the Czech language from English naval greeting used between ships, and was brought back to Czechoslovakia by Czech sailors who served in World War I. Another greeting of foreign origin, which is also used when meeting and parting company with friends, is "Èau!", and is from Italian.

Following greeting one another, Czechs usually proceed in a formal setting with "Jak se máte?", which means "how are you?", and the informal equivalent of this is "Jak se má¹?" In informal situations, the question will more likely be "Jak to jde?", "Jak se daøí?", which both mean "how's it going?", or the much more colloquial "Tak co?", which is a shortened version of "Tak co nového?", literally meaning, "so what's new?"

The formal way to part is "Na shledanou!", which can be abbreviated to "Nashle!", and this translates into "until we see each other again". For informal partings, "Ahoj!" or "Èau!" will do. Prior to this many Czechs say "Mìjte se!", or its informal equivalent "Mìj se!", which means "take care". An nicer way of saying this is "Mìjte se hezky!", which means "have a good time!"

Well, that's all we have time for. In next week's Living Czech programme, we will examine in more detail the way Czechs address each other, including something called the vocative case. So, until then, mìjte se fajn, or take care!

In order to properly view letters from the Czech alphabet it is necessary to set your browser to Central European languages (ISO 8859-2).