Dialog s češtinou - Learning

7-8 2003 Ostatní English
obálka čísla

As is generally known, there are some people in the USA who have Czech origin. Mostly, the first emigrants to the USA knew the language well. However, while the Austrian empire (until 1918) existed, they often mixed into Czech language so called "Germanisms", e. g. "marstal" (german "Marstall" = royal or duke stables), etc. Consequently, such immigrants brought such language with them to the USA. The second generation did not speak or write Czech anymore, although they partially understood what their parents were saying. The third generation did not speak, write or understand Czech at all. Nonetheless, this has happened in all immigrant nationalities, which came to the USA.

In Cedar Rapids, IA statistics indicate that about 25 % of its inhabitants are of Czech origin. However, only about 5 persons (!) can speak, write and understand Czech very well. The newer wave of Czech immigration took place mostly either during WWII or the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Since 1989, after the Velvet Revolution, there is no need for emigration as there is democracy both in the Czech Republic and in the Slovak Republic. Therefore, there is no longer need for escaping any more.

Many of the USA-immigrants have great appreciation for their ancestry in the "old" country. They belong to those generations which have difficulties in creating sentences or usage of Czech words, their endings, etc. In such instances, one would expect that they would endeavor to find somebody who could help them o correct their committed errors. That requires a certain degree of honesty towards oneself. If such a person wants to use the erroneous Czech in a private way, it is up to him/her to take responsibility for it. But, if such a faulty language is used (either in writing or orally) in a public manner, i. e. in newspaper, signboards, instructions, etc., it represents the Czech organization in question. Moreover, it is utterly misleading for those, whose knowledge of Czech is frail or who study it. Anyway, using any incorrect language (naturally also in English) means always its murdering. It is especially disappointing for those, who know the respective language well (i. e. including Czech). NO, IT IS NOT A SHAME TO HAVE ONE´S TEXT CORRECTED PRIOR TO ITS PUBLISHING. Withal, and incorrect text is always subject to ridiculing not only of the pertinent person, but most particularly of the respective corporation. If it is zech organization, in such event it will be said then "even the Czech" do not know the Czech language.

Being a former teacher of Czech language in Cedar Rapids since 1975, I had some experiences usingdifferent text books/methods on three levels (Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced). My native language were English and Czech, as I was born in the USA. My parents taught me both languages during my early childhood in the USA, however, all my schooling and greater part of my life (50 years) took place in former Czechoslovakia, while since 1972 (30 years), I have been living in the USA. Thus, I can speak, write and understand Czech quite well. However, everybody detects my accent, when I speak English. As it is known, one can NEVER learn PERFECTLY even one´s native language during a lifetime. Language study requires years of patience and assiduous work. Therefore, we have to learn constantly, because of the language richness, until we die.

Based on my afore-said experiences in Czech, I am fully aware that teaching includes a responsibility toward the students. As everyone knows, teaching foreign languages in the USA requires university study. Although I am aware there is in the USA a great scarcity of Czech language teachers, it should still be kept in mind the above-mentioned responsibility, i. e. avoid elementary grammar error. Again, why not AKS for help, if one is not sure. It is always advisable to use the old Czech adage, i. e. "measure twice before you cut". In doing so, the students´, listeners-reader´ trustwoirthiness will thus be definitely increased.

Charles Opatrny

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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