Pán, Paní, Panna

Having studied Spanish and German before attempting Czech, I thought I understood about linguistic gender. It’s simple enough. If it ends in “n” it’s probably masculine. To make it feminine, just put an “a” on the end. So the first time I was introduced to my friend’s father and mother, I wanted to make a good impression. “Dobry vecer, Pan…” I said. Then I turned to the Mrs. “Dobry vecer Panna….” Oddly, rather than be offended, she was laughing sweetly. She told all her friends. She treated me with special affection. Why? Because I’d called her a “virgin”.

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