20 October 2013

Czech practice

Smalls and I were waiting for a bus when a very nice Polish man asked me in his very best (bad) Czech which bus would take him to Dejvická and how much it would cost. I am pleased to say I answered in my very best (worse) Czech. 

I really like giving advice to tourists. Giving advice in Czech is even better than in English since, along with the chance to be a Know-It-All about local geography and customs, Touristic Advice and Directions is an easy conversation topic which the poor, lost supplicant has entered into willingly and - importantly - actually needs my help, so is extra keen to understand me.

Even better, the chances of the askee spending the whole time correcting my grammar are somewhat diminished. This final point is important because many Czechs seem to have an almost French-like urge to protect and defend their language against the on slot of mis-stressed syllables and my brain's Random Declination Generator.

This Polish gentleman was a unique gift from the linguists' gods: conversation in Czech with someone whose Czech was nearly as bad as mine. Practice, patience, and should we not understand each other, the option that the other participant might be the one at fault.

For his part, the Polish tourist began to mistrust either his or my Czech enough to start throwing English words into the conversation, quite possibly in the hopes that I would switch to English as well. 

However, I remained firm. So, a retroactive apology to the poor Polish tourist: omlouvám se. I admit to being an opportunistic language sadist. 

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