Language, Prague

22 Reviews

Know about this?

hide
  • Close but not quite!
    Close but not quite!
    by Jefie
  • Prague
    Prague
    by kris-t
  • What tourists do
    What tourists do
    by KalamazooJohn
  • Jefie's Profile Photo

    Prague for English-speaking travelers

    by Jefie Written Jan 12, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Close but not quite!

    As you walk around Prague, it gets really hard to believe that it was less than 25 years ago that the Velvet Revolution occurred, ultimately leading to the fall of the Communist Party and the birth of the Czech Republic. I guess it would be fair to say that the city has really embraced most of the opportunities that came with this new way of life, especially when it comes to the tourist industry. That's why you most likely won't have any problem visiting the city on your own, even if you don't speak the local language. Practically everything is available in several languages, or at the very least in English, from restaurant menus to information at museums and instructions for using public transportation. Translation might be a little off sometimes, but you can't blame them for not trying!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Using English on street

    by Thomas_abc Written Jul 14, 2012

    Most of tourists - Americans usually - think that everyone all over the world will understand them easily. So if one suddenly asks local person directly in complex and fast English, don't expect polite answer or even any answer.
    Most of Czechs (younger ones or Prague citizens in general) understand English a bit and if you give them time to switch into foreign language they will surely answer and help you. But the first sentence in conversation should be in Czech and spoken by you.

    Be also prepared that in very city centre, there are more turists than locals - so the person you are asking might be Hungarian turist who is lost the same way as you are. Police officers stationed in Prague center have obligatory knowlege of at least one of world language - English or German mainly and if they don't understand you they are capable of calling colleague who does.

    And the last but not least advice - learn or write local names of places or buildings you wanna to see. Among Prague citizens there are non-official names widely used rather than ones used in turist guides, especially avoid word-to-word translations of names (for example "The Dancing house" has nothing to do with The Ballet academy of Prague). Use name of street or crossroads nearby.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Using English on street

    by Thomas_abc Written Jul 14, 2012

    Most of tourists - Americans usually - think that everyone all over the world will understand them easily. So if one suddenly asks local person directly in complex and fast English, don't expect polite answer or even any answer.
    Most of Czechs (younger ones or Prague citizens in general) understand English little bit at least and if you give them time to switch into foreign language they will surely answer and help you. But the first sentence in conversation should be in Czech and spoken by you.

    Be also prepared that in very city centre, there are more turists than locals - so the person you are asking might be Hungarian turist who is lost the same way as you are. Police officers stationed in Prague center have obligatory knowlege of at least one of world language - English or German mainly and if they don't understand you they are capable of calling colleague who does.

    And the last but not least advice - learn or write local names of places or buildings you wanna to see. Among Prague citizens there are non-official names widely used rather than ones used in turist guides, especially avoid word-to-word translations of names (for example "The Dancing house" has nothing to do with The Ballet academy of Prague). Use name of street or crossroads nearby.

    Was this review helpful?

  • kris-t's Profile Photo

    Czech Language

    by kris-t Written Apr 28, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Prague

    Czech, a consonant-rich Slavic language, is said to be the most difficult European language to learn.
    Some of the sounds can be very difficult for English speakers to produce.

    Fortunately, many Czech's speak English, particularly in Prague city centre.

    Among the older generation, Russian & German are also quite common.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography

    Was this review helpful?

  • Do not worry of frowning faces

    by Mariqua Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    In generall czech people are very weak in foreign languages. So if you ask someone for help you may see frowning face. This does not mean any signs of hostility but simply a person does not understand and does not want to communicate. Due to communist era a lot of especially older people do speak only a little bit of russian. It is much more better with young generation who can speak at least basic of english or german. In Prague it should not be problem to order in english or german in restaurants especially in the centre. In the countryside it might be more problem to speak with a stuff but menus are usually in two languages. The more west the more german language, of course, due to boarders with Germany. I would reccommend to learn few word which warm up the people faces, they will be happy to hear you trying to pronounce czech words. There is an english - czech dictionary web site.

    Was this review helpful?

  • BMer's Profile Photo

    Prosim

    by BMer Updated Aug 21, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    So, I bought a Praha lanyard, a KGB (We're Still Watching You!) t-shirt, and a Praha bottle opener at the souvenir shop beside the bridge tower. The young lady at the cashier said to me, "Prosim." I asked her what it meant. She said it means thank you or hello. I said to her, "I thought thank you was "Dekuji." She said, "Yes." So now I'm confused... I asked her one more question, "What does Bes Do Perdele mean?" She was sipping on some water at that time and I had her blowing water/chunks through her nostrils. Hahaha! She couldn't tell me what it meant. Everyone in that souvenir shop was laughing so hard!

    I told my Czech co-worker my story when I got back and he said that it's even harder for women to translate it to men. So remember, always learn a few useful verses (for comedic effect) when visiting other countries.

    Was this review helpful?

  • _______

    by Lucie Written Jul 26, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ok...i totally understand how hard it might be for a foreigner over here sometimes....there will always be nice people and not very nice people....or even rude people....mostly the older generation won' t understand english much...but realize they had to learn russian when they were at school...they had no other choice...hopefully that period is over and most younger people now can speak at least some english.........wish u good luck....:)))) sometimes u will feel like retarded when trying to order st in a supermarket haha...very exciting no? come on!

    Was this review helpful?

  • Hildeal's Profile Photo

    the Chech language

    by Hildeal Written Dec 16, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    To me as a Norwegian this language is almost impossible to learn, It's hard to pronounce the words correctly.

    Some words like Dobriden (Good day) and the word for Thank(Dekuij) is usefull

    a funny sentence without a single vocal is this "strc prst skrz krk" meaning stick your fingers in the trouth

    Was this review helpful?

  • dogears's Profile Photo

    A language tape would be the...

    by dogears Updated Jul 30, 2005

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A language tape would be the best to help with pronouncing the slavic languages. :: Written language guides don't help with the pronunciation. And then there's the fact that "ano" means yes... :: See also - http://www.locallingo.com/countries/czech_republic/language/ and also - eurotravels' site on VT for more info.

    Was this review helpful?

  • kari5's Profile Photo

    Language

    by kari5 Written Jun 25, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I found that not very many people in Prague speak a lot of English, so learning some Czech will probably be useful. Locals generally respond very well if you at least recognise the effort they have made for you, even if you only know a word or two of Czech. Here are some useful phrases:

    Hello - Dobrý den
    Yes - Ano
    No - Ne
    Please - Prosím
    Thank you - Děkuji

    We found that most Czechs are more than happy to give an impromptu lesson in Czech - one taxi driver even listed off several phrases when we asked him, and then made us repeat them all in turn so that he could correct our pronounciation :) That was the best taxi journey I've ever been on.

    Don't be too daunted if Czech looks too confusing - many Czechs speak German as a second language so if you did German at school, now is the perfect opportunity to go up into the attic and dust off all your old exercise books!

    Related to:
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • KalamazooJohn's Profile Photo

    Speaking the language, or NOT!

    by KalamazooJohn Written May 22, 2005

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    What tourists do

    I read lots of things here on VT about problems with menus and such, but on my trip, never had a problem not finding someone who spoke English. Every restaurant we went in had English on the menu, and someone who spoke the language well, usually the first person we met there. Tourism is important and as their language is not much like what tourists speak at home, it is important for businesses to have German, English, French, Japanese speaking staff.

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Family Travel
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • emoja's Profile Photo

    Prosim!

    by emoja Updated Feb 9, 2005

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    everyone says "Prosim," all...the....time. they pick up their cell phones and say, "prosim?" they give you your change back and say, "prosim!"

    so what does prosim mean? according to my guidebook, it means please. but it seems like they use it for hello and thank you and all sorts of other stuff. i don't really know for sure, but it's a really big word - big like aloha or coca cola or something.

    if you'd like to say it too, it sounds like pro-seem. roll the 'r'.

    Was this review helpful?

  • jglsongs's Profile Photo

    Czech is hard, but thank you is easy

    by jglsongs Written Jul 29, 2004

    It will take about a day or so to acclimate yourself to the language barrier....and it is one at that. Despite tons of Americans and Brits taking over the city, there will be times when English (or German, the next safe bet) will not be spoken.

    Try to learn at least a couple of words in Czech - at the very least "do you speak English/German/..." and "thank you." This really goes a long way; just thinking about a city, which in a short period of time went from a semi-sheltered Communist city to a free tourist center to a new residential destination for many Americans and Western Europeans. It's enough to make one big collective head spin.

    Prague still is going through some growing pains...and it's a lot easier to make the overwhelming rush of tourism for some locals a little less...overwhelming.

    Was this review helpful?

  • roza_hr's Profile Photo

    Nobody speaks English.

    by roza_hr Updated Jun 17, 2004

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It was really hard to find people in Prague who understand English or German. Even young people working in international stores like Newyorker etc. can't seem to understand some basic phrases. So be prepared to this when you go there. Coming from Croatia I was lucky that my native language is somewhat similar to Czech so in many occasions I was better understood while speaking Croatian than English. This could be very annoying, especially if you need to explain or find out more complex information than just excuse me, thank you, goodbye etc.

    If you need any information, always try your luck at the tourist office first...other places will probably be a waste of time.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Budget Travel
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • acemj's Profile Photo

    Language can be a bit of a...

    by acemj Updated Dec 11, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Language can be a bit of a barrier, but you might do well speaking a little German. Czech is very difficult and I found that even with a book of 'useful' phrases, they weren't very useful the way I was pronouncing them!!
    Some of the younger people will speak English, but don't count on it.

    Here are the very basics:

    Yes: Ano (AH-no)
    No: ne (neh)
    Please/You're welcome: Prosim (PROH-seem)
    Thank you: Dekuji (Dyeh-koo-yih)
    Hello: Dobry den (DO-bree-den)
    Goodbye: Nashledanou (NAH-sleh-dah-noh-oo)

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Prague

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

70 travelers online now

Comments (1)

  • Merry.Perry's Profile Photo
    Jul 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    On my many visits to Prague I have found people to be really helpful and polite. I think Czech is very different grammatically from English and perhaps that is why the Czech find it hard to speak English. Most people think in Czech and then translate into English.
    Right from Vaclav Square all the way to Old Town, across Charles Bridge and up the Castle it is quite easy to find people who speak English. The trouble is in non tourist parts of Prague.
    There are a number of native English speakers who have made Prague their home. It is always a delight to come across them. We were pleasantly surprised when the receptionist at one upmarket Prague Hotel spoke to us in clipped English. He is from Eton and has moved to Prague as he has a Czech sweetheart. That was so totally sweet. Just recently we met an Irishman in a bus who showed us the way and also offered us strawberries from a basket he had bought at a farm.
    People are really nice, they are always polite. I always smile and say Dobry den and one should it is the custom to wish when you enter and say Na Shledanou when you leave a store. One thing I have discovered about the Czech people is that they are not very comfortable about their English and so they are reluctant to speak it. When someone says "I am sorry my English is not very good" I always say "it is much much better than my Czech". Which usually makes them laugh and feel comfortable.

View all Prague hotels