Archive for the Category: Czech

Thumbs and inches

I discovered today that the French word for thumb, pouce, also means inch, which makes sense as the length of the inch is apparently based on the width of a man’s thumb. Related expressions include: – se tourner les pouces, se rouler les pouces = to twiddle one’s thumbs – manger sur le pouce = […]

Also posted in Afrikaans, Dutch, English, French, Italian, Language, Slovak, Words and phrases 14 Comments

How does my language sound to you?

Yesterday I learnt that to Polish speakers Czech can sound cute, as quite a few Czech words sound like diminutives in Polish. For example cat is kot in Polish and kočka in Czech. Polish diminutives of kot are kotka and kociątko. A Czech diminutive of kočka is koťátko. What do closely related languages or varieties […]

Also posted in Language, Polish 12 Comments

Gleann Cholm Cille

This week I’m in Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal in the north west of Ireland taking part in the summer school in Irish language and culture at Oideas Gael. There are about 100 people here for the summer school and we have Irish language classes in the mornings and can choose from a variety of […]

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Scottish adventures

I’ve been in Scotland since last Saturday, mainly at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye. I’m doing a course in Gaelic mouth music (puirt à beul) and waulking songs (òrain luaidh) with Christine Primrose, and am having a wonderful time. There are eight of us in the singing class – […]

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Книга /’kniga/ is a Russian word for book, and also appears in other Slavic languages: кніга in Belarusian, книга in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Ukrainian, knjiga in Croatian and Slovenian, kniha in Czech, knéga in Kashubian, kъńiga (book, character, writing) in Old Church Slavonic, książka in Polish, and књига in Serbian. It apparently comes from the […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Russian, Words and phrases 7 Comments

Cvičení dělá mistra / Practice makes perfect

When learning a language I usually spend a lot of time listening to and reading it, and as a result become at least reasonably proficient at understanding it in speech and writing. In most cases though, I don’t spend as much time speaking and writing it, so my speaking and writing abilities tend to lag […]

Also posted in Breton, Language, Language learning 2 Comments


Fušování‏ is a Czech word I discovered recently that appealed to me and that means “tinker, dabbling”. The related verb, fušovat means “to potter, to tinker at, to botch, to dabble, to mess about, to tinker”. Other related words include: – fušer – quack, tinker, blunderer, boggler, botcher, bungler, cobbler, dabbler – fušerská práce – […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning, Words and phrases 6 Comments


I spent yesterday in Aberystwyth with two Czech friends and we talked in a mixture of Czech, Welsh and English, with occasional bits of other languages thrown in for good measure. When they were speaking Czech to each other I found that I could understand or guess enough to get a basic idea of what […]

Also posted in English, Language, Language learning, Welsh 4 Comments

Čmeláci a včely

Recently I discovered that there are two different words for bee in Czech: čmelák [ˈʧmɛlaːk] (pl. čmeláci) for bumblebee and včela [ˈfʧɛla] (pl. včely) for honey bee. While investigating these words I also discovered the wonderful Czech word hmyz [ɦmɪz] (insect), which sounds like it might be onomatopoeic. This got me wondering about the differences […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Words and phrases 14 Comments


I came across the Czech word spolubydlící [ˈspɔlʊbidliːtsiː] on a blog I read today and was pleased to realise that I could work out what it meant from its constituent parts. Spolu means together, byd is related to bydlet (to live), I didn’t know what lící signified, but correctly guessed that the word meant “house […]

Also posted in English, Language, Words and phrases 14 Comments
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