8 Intriguing Facts About the Czech Language

By United Language Group

The Czech language doesn’t have the same name recognition as more widely spoken languages like French or Spanish.  However, it’s an interesting language in its own right. Whether you’re planning a visit to Prague, planning a business trip to the Czech Republic or just want to learn more, here are 8 intriguing facts about the Czech language. 

the czech language has over 10 million native speakers around the world.

Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic. However, it’s also recognized as a minority language in Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Austria.

according to the us census bureau, as of 2013, over 47,000 czech speakers were living in the united states.

Czech is not one of the most commonly spoken languages in the US as a whole, but there are thriving Czech communities in places like the following:

  • Masaryktown, Florida, where just over 3% of the population was born in the Czech Republic.
  • Mifflinville, Pennsylvania, where 2.2% are from the Czech Republic.
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama: 2.1% from the Czech Republic.
  • North Riverside, Illinois and Sharon Springs, New York: 2.0% of residents are Czech-born.

Meanwhile, large communities of Americans descended from Czech immigrants still live in Texas, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

czech is mutually intelligible with slovak.

The Czech language is mutually intelligible with Slovak to the point where some linguists once believed they were dialects of a single language. However, they might not be mutually intelligible for much longer. Since Czechoslovakia broke up in 1993, the two languages are diverging, and it is now more difficult for Czech speakers to understand Slovak speakers (and vice versa).

the czech language almost disappeared in the 17th century.

In the 17th century, the German-speaking Hapsburgs ruled Bohemia (which is now the Czech Republic). The Hapsburgs forced the people of Bohemia to speak German in public. Everyone from the intellectual class down to the peasants was required to comply with restrictive language laws.

However, there was an ancient tradition of puppetry in Bohemia. Woodcarvers there made amazingly detailed marionettes – and the marionettes were allowed to “speak” Czech in their public performances. Some credit the puppets (and the puppeteers) with saving the Czech language from extinction.

czech and croation are the only languages not to use a variation of the indigenous australian word for kangaroo.

In languages around the world, the word for “kangaroo” has a common origin: gangurru, which is what the Aboriginal Guugu Yimithirr people call the creatures in their language.

It’s kangourou in French, känguru in German, 캥거루(kaeng-geolu) in Korean, but it’s klokan in Czech and Croatian. During the Czech National Revival in the 19th century, language reformers added new Czech words to express modern scientific and philosophical concepts. Their reforms included creating a word for kangaroo, which Croatian speakers also adopted.

some czech words don’t have any vowels at all. 

It’s shocking if you’re used to reading English, but some Czech words don’t have any vowels at all.

For example, the Czech tongue twister “strč prst skrz krk” means “put your finger through your throat”. There’s not a single vowel to be found!

czech is the only officially recognized language to use ř.

The letter ř is almost unique to the Czech language – the only other languages that use it are in the related Upper Sorbian language of Germany and a few isolated dialects of Norwegian. 

czech capitalization is complicated. 

In fact, it’s so complicated that one survey found that only 59% of Czech speakers know how to use capitalization correctly.

That said, 89% of them also opposed changing the rules. So, businesses translating content into Czech need to get it right the first time. That’s why it’s vital to use a language services provider with native-speaking, professional Czech translators. If you’re looking for Czech translation, we can help! Check out the services we offer and the industries we serve, and feel free to contact us.

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