If I were to describe the Czech language, challenging is an understatement. It is totally different from the languages that I know. They have words without vowels. My first encounter of a challenging Czech word was with “zmrzl,” the Czech word for frozen. With the difficulty of this language and the sub zero temperatures we’ve been getting, I’m zmrzl.
When winter came and the air started getting dry, I went to an electronics shop here in Kolin and went looking for a humidifier. With my limited Czech, I asked a salesperson if they had a humidifier. I didn’t bother to find out what the word for humidifier was because I thought it would be the same thing. The sales person didn’t know what I was talking about, so I went on to explain: “voda na vzduch” (water for air). Still didn’t get my point across. Maybe it was my accent. I went home frustrated and explained the whole situation to my husband. He said he’ll buy it for us. As it turns out, there is a Czech word for humidifier: “zvlhčovač.” Who would’ve thought.
I’m glad that my worst mistake in the Czech language happened in a private conversation with my husband. In an effort to help me learn Czech, he would oftentimes speak to me only in Czech. One day after coming home from a trip, he asked: “Honey, mame jidlo?” (Honey, do we have food?) I cooked lentil soup that day so I replied. “Ano, my mame kočka.” (Yes, we have cat). My husband’s expression was beyond explanation. The Czech word for lentil is “čočka”, and because of the similarities in pronunciation, I said cat instead of lentil. When we discussed it later on, he jokingly told me: “I knew what you were talking about but I wanted to make sure. You told me that in the Philippines, you guys eat dogs. So I wasn’t sure what else you eat.” I guess he does have a point.