Letter to the Editor: Czech and Slovak not so different after all

Re: "To neni Slovenčina: Problems with Czech," By Tom Nicholson, April 1-7, Vol.8 No.12.

I enjoyed your article regarding the linguistic differences between Czech and Slovak. I lived in the Czech Republic for eight years.

I learned to speak Czech but I had much contact with the Slovak language, having travelled there extensively. On several occasions I experienced the same difficulties with Slovak as you experienced with Czech.

I must disagree with you, however, about one thing. I don't think you are accurate when you say that they are two different languages. Yes, many words are different and Slovaks speakers don't have to contend with ř etc. The similarities are enough though, that I think it would be more accurate to compare Czech and Slovak to British and American English. Each has several vocabulary and pronunciation differences, but they are considered variations of the same language.

Judging from the experience of American friends of mine who spent a year abroad studying in Great Britain, I would be willing to bet that if the author were sitting in a pub (bar) in the Czech Republic having a beer with his friends (mates) talking (chatting), watching soccer (football) on the telly (TV), he would most likely understand 90% of what Czech speakers were saying. Not unlike if he were in the same situation as an American in London.

Michael J. Nedoba
Cedar Falls, Iowa

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