Czech/Slovak won’t leave me alone!

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m in Bratislava this weekend to visit some friends. Last year, based on a resolution I’ve had for a long time, I started learning Czech. I’ve always felt a connection to Slavic cultures and people, but in particular to Czechia and Slovakia. Of course, they’re not one and the same country, but most Czechs and Slovaks I’ve met functionally recognise them as two sides of the same coin, and this applies to the language as well. So forgive me for mixing up the two in this post. I talk about “learning Czech” – it was a fairly arbitrary decision. I have more Slovak than Czech friends, but there are more resources for learning Czech. But I’ll still use good Slovak resources if I find them.

So as I said, I was learning Czech, but it sort of tapered off, and then I decided to focus really hard on my Spanish, and dropped Czech for the time being. This weekend, coming into Slovakia, I did no preparatory study, didn’t even bring a phrasebook, and had no intention of returning to my study afterwards.

But after I arrived in the country, the bug caught me. I walked around the city, whispering street names to myself, trying to decode advertisements and plaques. I caved and went and bought some graded readers for Czech/Slovak, the cutest of which is pictured on the right.

I like to think I’m very rational when it comes to picking languages to learn. I go by speaker count, ease of finding resources, and use in everyday life. But sometimes, I just have to concede that a language and culture have charmed me. And this is especially notable with Czech/Slovak, because even walking through unattractive, car-ridden streets in Bratislava, I felt the pull. It’s undeniable: I’m going to have to start learning Czech again. May Mrkvička and Ďobko be my guardian angels.

Next year, I’m thinking of going and teaching abroad. I was considering China and Spain, but I think I’m going to have to add Prague to the list. I had wanted to go there in the past, but struck it off because of the issue of transitioning, but if I have all my documents sorted out before I go, all I’ll have to do is get back on my prescription, so… watch this space!

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