I actually speak quite a bit of English here though I should be putting more focus on Czech. I’m blessed with great teachers at the Gymnázium and a family with whom I can communicate really well.
But sometimes things don’t get across. And it gets frustrating and tired and lonely.
Sometimes, it’s hilarious. Take for example my recent excursion to the grocery store. In Israel as well as here, I loved going grocery shopping by myself. It was a great way to learn words as I took my time and strolled aisles for an hour. I find it very meditative.
This week, however, I remembered my own impairments…linguistic and otherwise…as I stood in the frozen aisle for 5 minutes unable to reach the frozen broccoli in a high freezer. I looked around, and either there was no one there or they were just as short as me. Finally, I waved over a man and said,
“Pardón. Neumím česky…. Brokolice?”
As you may imagine, this means: “Excuse me. I don’t speak Czech. Broccoli?” As I furiously pantomimed not being able to reach.
Thankfully, he laughed and helped me. And I immediately went home and learned how to say, “Can you help me?”
Some other funny communication issues I struggle with are two particular words that sound really awkward to an English speaker…
Díky (dicky) = thanks [a shortening of děkuji, thank you]
Fakt (fact pronounced like a posh Englishperson, “fahkt”) = really
I can’t bring myself… #($)@*$(^($*
Moral of the story: it was some hard-earned broccoli. Lesson learned.
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Two useful phrases: “Can you help me”? and “What’s this called/how do you say”? I would pass on broccoli, though. . .