The international service of Czech Radio 
22-11-2019, 05:11 UTC

English words in the Czech lanaguage

Hello and welcome to the first in a series of programmes that will examine the Czech language. We'll look at the development of idiosyncracies in the Czech language, and also slang terms and phrases that have come into existence, be it hundreds over years ago in tiny villages around the country, or as recently as yesterday in Prague. Over the coming weeks Alena Skodova and myself, Nick Carey, will take you through themes that vary from the weather to the correct form of addressing those around you. The theme for today's language spot will also continue next week, as it is one that has great relevance for the Czech language of today. This theme is the development of anglicisms in Czech today.

Over the last decade, following the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Velvet Revolution, contact between Czechoslovakia, and then from 1993 the Czech Republic, and other nations around the world has increased tenfold. The Czechs have opened themselves up to the world, and the result of this is that the nation has been inundated with a constant flow of new information. A natural consequence of this is that the Czech dictionary has swollen with new, foreign words, particularly of English origin (ie, interview, summary, copyright, reggae, designer, dealer). Today's Czech is full to the brim with anglicisms that have been adopted mainly because the products themselves were known long before they ever came into use in the Czech Republic (for example, computer, walkman or hamburger). The situation is different when the English and Czech expression for the same term or product battle for supremacy, in which case one of them usually ceases to exist (cash - v hotovosti, P.O. Box - po¹tovní schránka, postservis - po¹tovní slu¾ba, beachvolejbal - plá¾ový volejbal, public relations - vztahy s veøejností).

The majority of anglicisms are to be found in new and different areas from around the world, such as western economics, politics, philosophy or culture (for instance holdingová spoleènost - holding company, management, sí»ový marketing - network marketing, granty, briefing - or brífink -, happening, skinhead or skin). Very often, unusual and yet expressively useful words like airbus [erbas] have made it into the Czech vernacular, and a great many of them have phonetic are spelled phonetically such as air condition, spelled e-r-k-o-n-d-y-¹-n, and teenager - t-ý-n-e-j-d-¾-r.. This is also the case with terms such as and brainwashing [brejnvo¹ink] barbecue [barbikjù] and feature [fíèr].

A very interesting part of this process is that anglicisms are, to some extent or another, becoming "Czechified" - we can read nìkolik komiks or even komiksù, eat cornflakes or kornflejky or even an entire McDonaldí menu. Apart from individual words, more and more often nowadays whole English phrases are being adopted, such as být in (to be in fashion, to be in), být out or on-time. That's all we have time for today, so until next time, mìjte se fajn.

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