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Post details: Czech it out (at your own risk)

Czech it out (at your own risk)

Yesterday, I was having a dinner at a friend's house and one of the guests there asked me how difficult it would be to learn Czech.

Well, if this question ever makes it to your consideration plate, let me give you a friendly warning. Czech not only conjugates verbs, but it also declines nouns and many other lexical denizens that stumble into its path - adjectives, pronouns and even numerals. For nouns there are seven cases, which are used in different contexts with different verbs. Here is an example of the whole shebang (English version is in parenthesis).

1. Toto jsou DVE MLADE ZENY (These are TWO YOUNG WOMEN)
2. Bez DVOU MLADYCH ZEN (Without TWO YOUNG WOMEN)
3. Verim DVEMA MLADYM ZENAM (I trust TWO YOUNG WOMEN)
4. Vidim DVE MLADE ZENY (I see TWO YOUNG WOMEN)
5. this case is reserved for addressing
6. Mluvim o DVOU MLADYCH ZENACH (I talk about TWO YOUNG WOMEN)
7. Jdu se DVEMA MLADYMI ZENAMI (I go with TWO YOUNG WOMEN)

You might think: no big deal - I will learn seven endings for singular and seven for plural. But there are in fact several categories of endings. How many exactly? Well, 6 for masculine nouns, 4 for feminine and 4 for neutral. Are you still interested?

Let's move to verbs then. They have their little suffixes too.

1 sg. MLUVIM (I SPEAK)
2 sg. MLUVIS (You SPEAK)
3 sg. MLUVI (He/She/It SPEAKS)
1 pl. MLUVIME (We SPEAK)
2 pl. MLUVITE (You SPEAK)
3.pl. MLUVI (They SPEAK)

How many different patterns for conjugation there are? Well, nobody really knows because it is kind of difficult to draw a line between patterns and irregular cases. But count on more than 10 for sure. So, as you see, learning Czech might turn out to be trickier than snacking on a pomegranate.

But if none of this discourages you, go ahead - learn this language. It may be difficult, it may have the largest number of grammatical exceptions per capita, but it is also beautiful, playful and dizzyingly expressive.

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