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The Czech language is spoken by more than nine million people of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic living in the western and the central parts of that country (Bohemia and Moravia, respectively) which, under the recently introduced federative system, constitute the Czech Socialist Republic. It is very closely related to Slovak, the national language of the eastern part of Czechoslovakia—the Slovak Socialist Republic—so that this phrase book may also substantially facilitate communication in that area, inhabited by over five million people.
In its spoken form Czech has several dialects. Among them the Central Bohemian dialect (with Prague as its center) plays a preeminent role: it forms the basis of both the Standard Literary Czech Language (spisovná cetina) and the widely used Czech Common Interdialect, or Language (obecná cetina). Although certain differences between Standard Literary Czech and some varieties of the spoken language are by no means insignificant, they do not impede communication, for practically all segments of the population are familiar with Standard Literary Czech as well: in its written form it is the medium of most literature, and spoken it is taught in schools and used in instruction on all educational levels, in public lectures and church sermons, in radio and television, in theaters and motion pictures, and in official proceedings.
The standard literary language thus represents a linguistic code which in its use is not limited to a particular territory or social group but serves as a communication medium for all the population of Bohemia and Moravia. For this reason it is consistently used throughout this book. Only exceptionally are parallel words from non-literary varieties of Czech also supplied— words that are known in all or almost all dialects, and that, thanks to their brevity, successfully compete with the literary language equivalents (e.g., Czech Common Interdialect baterka, "flashlight," in place of Standard Literary Czech kapesní elektrická svítilna).
NOTES ON THE USE OF THIS BOOK
The material in this book has been selected chiefly to teach you many essential phrases, sentences and questions for travel. It will serve as a direct and interesting introduction to the spoken language if you are beginning your study. The sentences will be useful to you whether or not you go on to further study. With the aid of a dictionary, many sentence patterns included here will answer innumerable needs, for example:
"I want to speak [to the manager]." The brackets indicate that substitutions can be made for these words with the use of a bilingual dictionary. In other sentences, for the words in square brackets you can substitute the words immediately following (in the same sentence or in the indented entries below it). For example, the entry
I am looking for [my boy friend] my girl friend provides two sentences: "I am looking for my boy friend" and "I am looking for my girl friend." Three sentences are provided by the entry
I want to send this [by surface mail]. — by air mail. — special delivery.
As your Czech vocabulary grows, you will find that you can express an increasingly wide range of thoughts by the proper substitution of words in these model sentences.
Please note that whereas brackets always indicate the possibility of substitutions, parentheses have been used to give brief explanations or to indicate words that can readily be omitted. The abbreviation "(lit.)" is used whenever a literal translation of a Czech phrase or sentence is supplied.
You will notice that the word "please" has been omitted from many of the sentences. This was done merely to make them shorter and clearer, and to avoid repetition. To be polite, however, you should add prosím whenever you would normally say "please" in English.
You will find the extensive index at the end of the book especially helpful. Capitalized items in the index refer to section headings and give the number of the page on which the section begins. All other numbers refer to entry numbers, All the entries in the book are numbered consecutively.
Excerpted from Say It In Czech by Milan Fry?cák. Copyright © 1973 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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