Ah, you are American, yes. Very good. But you cannot say, ‚Třistatřicettři stříbrných stříkaček stříkalo přes třistatřicettři stříbrných střech‚. Czechs are justifiably proud of their language, and take special glee in the difficulty we foolish foreigners find in pronouncing this most difficult phrase. After many years now of practice and determiniation, I can almost make it a quarter of the way through…not that it’s particularly useful to tell the world that three hundred thirty three silver fire-engines hosed down three hundred thirty three silver roofs.

A opět multimediální doplnění z Fredotéky (zvuk spustíte kliknutím na šipečku).


14 odpovědí na “333”

  1. I think the „ř“ sound was invented for the sole purpose of driving foreigners crazy. I have never heard a non-native Czech speaker pronounce it as well as you do.

  2. well, your pronounciation is great!
    „ř“ is difficutl to pronounce even for a lot of czech speakers, so take it easy 🙂
    and you are completely right we love the difficulties of our language. I have special phrase for my arabic and hebro speaking friends: „plch zdrh skrz drn, prv zhlt hrst zrn“. Since it is difficult for them to pronounce two consonants together, this sentence makes them crazy 🙂
    BTW, is there some english eqvivalent for czech work „jazykolam?“ I have heard several english „jazykolams“, but it was not difficult to pronounce it….

  3. Zvukové doplnění je rozkošné.
    Třeba půjde lépe vyslovit tato verze:
    Třistatřiatřicet stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes třistatřiatřicet stříbrných střech.
    A toto už je úplná hračka, i pro cizince:
    Byl jeden Řek a ten mi řek, abych mu řek, kolik je v Řecku řeckých řek. Tak jsem mu řek, že nejsem Řek, abych mu řek, kolik je v Řecku řeckých řek.

  4. hey, u r doin really great, man! congrats!
    well, as for me, i luv seein some poor foreigner trying so eagerly to pronounce this luvely sound Ř 🙂 can anything be nicer? 🙂
    and btw – there´s another tongue-twister in czech also quite difficult for foreingers to pronounce – STRČ PRST SKRZ KRK – well, dont pay much attention to the content of the utterance – put your finger through your throat, but try to pronounce it as much neatly as u can. 🙂

  5. Paní Klaro: anglicky jazykolam je „tongue twister“. Ale v anglických jazykolamech vtip nespočívá v tom, že je těžké to vyslovit (anglická výslovnost není tak těžká), ale v tom, že je lehké přehodit hlásky. Zkuste třeba říct „toy boat“ desetkrát za sebou a rychle.

    V posledních letech přišlo do módy na konci filmu ukazovat záběry scén, které se takhle nepovedly a musely se natočit znovu („bloopers“), a tyto záběry jsou často veselejší nežli ten film samotný.

  6. Fred,

    I think there are some words in English difficult to pronounce as well -e.g. it’s almost impossible for some Czech people to understand the difference between pronounciation of words tough,though,thought,through and true, and some amateurs pronounce it in the very same way, which confuses me a little while I’m listening to them. It makes me feel ashamed of being from Czechia.

    BTW: Congratulations! I have never heard anyone who could pull off more than one single word with „ř“. And remember, it’s no scandal you can’t pronounce that dotty tongue-twister with fire engines. It’s just bullshit, it isn’t worth learning. I simply don’t understand your longing to learn such thing. If I weren’t native Czech, I wouldn’t even try to. You should listen to the voice of wise Mrs Whiting, ‚cos she is as always right. The letter „ř“ was invented to make forigners feel like morons, when they are presumptuous enough to try to pronouce it.


  7. I think that the letter „Ř“ still has some more reasons (not just to confuse foreigners). Just simple example: „řek“ is not equal to „rek“. But I agree that there are many czech people with problems saying such a tongue-twisters like the one above as well:-)

  8. When I first came here, being desperate to learn to speak Czech like a native, I paid for experimental surgery to extend my tongue by five inches. Not only did this allow me to learn to pronounce the very tricky ř, it also improved my social life tremendously.

  9. Dear Elena, I tried the mentioned example of English „jazykový kolotoč“ and I did not consider it as tricky as this type of Czech „přeříkávaček“ (this is a „novotvar“ I have just invented. I intend to establish a new item on slovodne: slovník novotvarů, hope it would grow fast), for a difference from jazykolam, that is difficult to pronounce as such, přeříkávačka is making you say mistakes: „Klára Králová hrála na klarinet.“ „Libreto k roli lorda Rolfa Alroa.“ I can remember a TV contest of professional speakers in pronouncing such difficult phrases. Great fun!

    Dear Elena, I hope you are not angry with me, I believe you understand my contributions are not trying to dishonest you, even if they may seem to oppose you. It is why I’ve added the thesis about relativity of the truth. I apologize to have included you automatically among Europeans. Anyhow I guess Czech is your mother tongue and at least you have European roots.

    In any case I do enjoy reading your comments, both Czech and English. Only yesterday I read slovodne a bit longer (we are six at home sharing time on one PC) and I discovered too many of them!

  10. Dear Jiřulka: no need to apologize. Thank you for your thoughtful replies. I am not the least bit offended. My own thinking has gone through various stages, and the view you espouse is one that I also held for a long time.

    Your travels to Israel must have been tremendously interesting. I have never been there myself — yet.

    I would, however, respectfully disagree with you on two points: first, I do not believe that the Koran is an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible. There is an Arabic translation of the Bible, and it is not the same book as the Koran.

    As for the truth and relativity, that is an interesting topic for philosophers. But the question of truth to a Christian is predicated on a completely different paradigm. It is primarily a moral issue, not a philosophical one. For example, let’s say a kid wastes time in school instead of studying, so he gets bad grades, and he knows his parents will be angry. So he falsifies his report card and gives it to his parents with good grades on it. Would it be fair to say that the kid did something wrong? And if so, then what did he do wrong? Did he not tell his parents the truth? But, you may ask, what is the truth, after all? Isn’t it relative? Well, if your kid did that and you found out and got angry, and if he defended himself by saying to you that truth is a relative thing, would you then say, „Yes, you’re right, I’m sorry“? Or would you punish him threefold: for doing poorly in school, for lying to you about it, and for being a smart aleck?

    Truth in the Christian world view is not so much a question of how we perceive things we do not understand, such as the origin of life, or how order came from chaos, and other hotly disputed matters; it is a question of how honest we are before God and others about ourselves and our shortcomings. I would submit to you that from this perspective, there is indeed such a thing as absolute truth, and I think that, deep down inside, we all know it.


    P.S. As to the origin of „abra-cadabra,“ it does seem more likely that it came from Arabic, rather than what Mr. Webster says. It just sounds Arabic.

  11. Dear Elena, I am happy to read this! Only one prob. My reaction is so complex!
    I have got so many things to answer!
    It is my bad habit; I usually hunt too many hares at the same time. The result is long and confusing compilation of relatively unrelated topics -difficult to understand. At least I will try to separate various items:
    The relativity of the truth: I did mean the philosophical aspect. (Moral aspects are next hares to hunt) The resources of our knowledge are limited and often incorrect, strongly dependent on our cultural background. Many facts are in fact untrue. We have learned or just read or heard something. But later on the research shows many different results. For me it means – doubt about everything and be eager to learn! And inform others – hopefully the truth (or just correct info) will help them. Most times it is me, who tells the others surprising new consequences. Nevertheless I am prepared to listen and learn, too.
    Koran vs. Bible – unfortunately I did not read them in original to be quite sure. I just wrote what I had heard. I believe it, as I have seen in Jerusalem with my own eyes – Jewish weeping wall and just on the top of it a mosque where Mohamed was taken to heaven, fifty meters from it the church where Jesus was taken to heaven. Usually we hear about three biggest monotheistic religions originated there. Was it the same event, or three different ones? Anyhow there are not three, but a plenty of different religions, Moslems have at least two different ones, just in Jerusalem in the church where Jesus was removed from the cross, there are several quite different spaces, each belonging to a different Christian religion (I am not able to name them all). They all are based on the Bible, but is it the same Bible, when it’s understanding is so varied? I suppose many translations are modified.
    I suppose your mother language is Czech – like mine. I prefer to write about serious matters with you in English, just because it is more difficult to me. It makes me think carefully about formulations. Please excuse my mistakes. Should you notice some bad formulation, please correct it, I will appreciate it. I like slovodne, as it gives me an opportunity to enjoy the magic of Czech, most time very funny. I am happy to find so many people with similar passion.
    Moral aspect of the truth – given example is beyond discussion, it is just deceit. Fortunately not the case of my family. We have four children (now adult). They knew since they were babies that if they had done something wrong, they have to tell it to my wife or me. For us it is more important to know what really happened, then punish them. It always gives them the opportunity to tell us the truth without fear of punishment. And we together looked for the solution to avoid problems, make an excuse to an affected person, or take any necessary measures to reduce the damage. We believe them and they believe us. Fortunately they all were among the best in class during all their studies. Two older already graduated (and continue on post graduate studies), two are still studying. Still all living together with us including my daughter’s husband and my granddaughter.
    What comes from abracadabra I have heard in Israel! I just wanted to correct the common mistake among Czech people – inform it is not a Czech word!

  12. Dear Jiřulka: thank you again for your response. I appreciate your deep thoughts. Czech is the language I learned from my parents, but I was born and raised in the United States, so English is a little easier for me.

    There are many things in the world that we do not fully understand with our intellect, in particular in the realms of natural science and history. The best we can do is to research as many reliable and serious sources as possible, balance them against our own observations, and then preface the results of our research with a disclaimer, such as: “To the best of my knowledge,” which always leaves the possibility open that further research will yield new revelations, which may completely discredit everything we believed before. The fatal mistake we often make is to believe that we can fully understand and really explain something. We can’t, and it’s because each of us, no matter how brilliant, is limited in some way, and other people are limited in other ways, and so we do not really understand each other.

    This is true of any endeavor involving human knowledge. In the spiritual realm, however, we need to speak a completely different language. The questions and answers are totally different. We are created by a God who is not subject to our limited standards. Quite the contrary; we are subject to His standards, and His standards alone. God is above all of our knowledge, all of our understanding, and all of our religion. Religion is a human attempt to explain the unexplainable and to put God into some sort of a box that we think we can understand. God cannot be put into a box of our making. Thus all religion is also limited, falls short and must be set aside when we truly seek the face of God.

    It sounds terribly difficult the way I have described it, and yet it is so incredibly simple that the youngest child can do it with no education and no outside help. It is simply a matter of wanting to know God. It is a personal decision. That’s all. You can know God intimately if you want to. You can hear His voice directly, without the aid of an interpreter, because the same God who created you will also speak to you in a way that you can understand. Now, once you start hearing His voice, you will probably want to share with others what you have heard, and immediately YOU become the interpreter, and some people will like what you say and others won’t, because once again, we are back down here in the realm of human knowledge. Well, that’s all right. That will always happen. You don’t have to let it discourage you.

    I think we are going off on a tangent that other people in SlovoDne may not be interested in, so I don’t want to use any more space here for these discussions. But I would enjoy pursuing this further privately. If you wish, write to me at: ellenmwhiting@comcast.net


  13. In fact I intended to use the above address for our correspondence. I am only affraid your answer would be rejected by my server’s spam filter. I am not sure how to set it.

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