My brain is hemorrhaging, or at least that is how it feels after studying Czech. There are three tenses and seven cases which I can barely decipher. Seriously. What is accusative and why do I have to change the ending of every noun and adjective to work with the object? I “accuse” the object! For instance — even the word “Prague” changes depending on if you are going TO Prague or are IN Prague. A whole city can’t keep it’s name straight. I began 5 months ago with one beginner class a week and have now added a 2nd plus a private lesson. My desk is littered with study sheets, Google translate sits open on my laptop, and every pocket and purse is overflowing with flashcards.
My Spanish, which I never really mastered fluently, is suddenly peaking out and getting in the way; therefore, giving me a grand mal language headache on a daily basis. More importantly, everyone tells me it is a waste of time. After all — it is a one country language. It would probably take a lifetime to master, and we are already 6 months into a 3 year stay in Prague. This is compounded by the fact that many CZECH PEOPLE admittedly cannot pronounce their own letter ř correctly. There are many youtube tutorials on this. Pitiful. So if it is so mentally painful – why bother with this demoralizing exercise?
- I now live in Prague and think it is culturally respectful to learn the local language. I have always felt that even learning basic courtesies goes a long way. PLEASE Prosím, THANK YOU děkuji, HELLO Dobrý den and GOODBYE Na shledanou are a few examples! It is painful to hear American (and other) tourists find themselves in a situation where only Czech is spoken, and their solution to this is to shout as if that will make them any more understood.
- I am not working for the first time in 27 years. I need a structured activity to stay out of trouble.
- Everyone tells me it is a waste of time. OK. I know I already said that, but to be perfectly honest, that is the main reason. I want to prove them wrong. Especially my husband. Especially my husband who learns language by osmosis and hasn’t even started to take classes.
This may make me sound a tad competitive. You would be right to think so. To get a better sense of this ‘type A’ insanity, I will share 2 examples of how this manifests itself in my brain. Back in the late 90’s when I still had a Window’s based PC, there was a game by the name of Jezzball which came preinstalled on my laptop. It was a very rudimentary game, but was spatial in nature – my strong suit. I would stare at the screen between work, cooking dinner and soccer games and try to compartmentalize those damn balls. I managed to get the top 10 high scores as if this were my life’s accomplishment. And then I took my children on a vacation. Steve stayed home. He also spent the next 7 days systematically bumping me off the high score list entirely. Bastard. I came home late after a long flight to see only his name on the list which he smugly couldn’t wait to show me. Instead of a romantic rendezvous, I stayed up the entire night in an attempt to exceed his scores and regain my title. Which I did!
My children, who also challenge me, made fun of me once for not being able to drop down and do ten plank push-ups. I secretly started training for the next time they thought they could mock me. I built up to 100! ONE HUNDRED! Did I mention the bad disc in my neck? I should never do push-ups.
So back to Czech and to the fact that I have spent the last 7 days in Baltimore for a visit. Steve stayed behind in Prague. Said he couldn’t get away. Hmmmmm. I know what is really going on which brings me to my current state of brain-bleed. There is no doubt in my Czeched-out mind that he has spent all of his free waking hours trying to learn what I have in 5 months in one measly week. And you know what?? He is capable of this. Je štěstí, že ho miluji. So despite my jet lag, a pending night flight and 14 hours of travel ahead of me –I WILL ……….