Do we speak English in #brnoregion?
We speak Czech in #brnoregion. This beautiful (and damn hard) Slavonic language has four basic dialects while some of its expressions differ in various parts of the country, sometimes even in neighbouring villages. Don’t worry, though; we pretty much understand each other here.
Czech, with a twist
#brnoregion also has its own language specialty, called hantec. If you’ve been to Brno, you may have wondered why everybody says “šalina” instead of the commonly universal word “tramway” (tramvaj in Czech). The answer is hantec. Even though almost no one actively uses it these days, almost everybody recognizes it. And it’s no wonder, really.
The dialect formed here over hundreds of years and contains elements from Czech dialects of the Haná region, German spoken by German citizens of Brno, and argot of Vienna. It even has some words from Yiddish, Romany and Italian.
Chaotic, right? Well, we like to spice up our language from time to time.
And how good is our English
Well… no need to lie. There are places where searching for someone to talk to in a foreign language won’t yield results. What’s unique, and yes – rather absurd - about Czechs is that lots of them will understand your English pretty well, but will only reply in Czech (if they reply at all).
The quality of foreign language classes at our schools used to be rather poor, to say the least, and instead of teaching the kids to speak (regardless of the errors), the teachers used to correct unimportant details, leaving many little speakers stuck. After that, most of them never plucked up enough courage to start speaking again, so they’ve remained silent ever since.
Expats like #brnoregion
Not many people would like to live in a country where they don’t speak or understand the language, and we admit that learning Czech is really tough. However, #brnoregion has so much to offer that it’s worth giving it a try. At some places in #brnoregion (yes, we know which they are!) where English won’t help you much (e.g. local authorities), the Brno Expat Centre is ready to help. Apart from free-of-charge consultations and assistance getting all the necessary work or residence permits, it organizes interesting events for those who may feel a bit lost in Brno.
In order to help you find everything you need for your life in Brno, the BEC has prepared a special map showing English-friendly doctors, authorities and even churches giving services in English. Dear BEC, we love the work you’re doing. Thanks and keep it up!
Conference dedicated to English
Nowadays, the situation with English classes is much better, even though it’s not perfect yet. But we’re working on it! We’re working on it so much that Masaryk University and The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) hold an international ESSE Conference dedicated to the English language in Brno between August and September. Various conferences, lectures, seminars, and round tables on all kinds of linguistic topics, with speeches from leading linguists from not only Europe but the rest of the world, as well. If language is a fascinating science for you, you’ll absolutely love it.
By the way, did you know that the Japanese government adopted a new strategy on teaching English because of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo? Do you think that when writing his Winter’s Tale, William Shakespeare was inspired by the Czech countryside as he knew it from the stories of the actors who had visited Czech lands? And did you know that there are standards and strategies for translation of literature for children?
All these and a lot more topics were presented, shared and discussed during ESSE Conference between August 29 and September 2. Don´t miss this event next year!
If you do want to learn some Czech words though, the locals are quite likely to teach you to say “pivo” (beer) for starters. However, we’ve chosen several linguistic ice-breakers for you: try to say “hvězdárna” (astronomical observatory), “budoucnost” (future) or “kancelář” (office) and you’ll surely impress anyone within listening range.
Please bear with us and don’t get cross when your English won’t be of much help to you in a village shop in #brnoregion.