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Overview of the Czech Language
Czech - a Synthetic Language
Czech is a Slavic language that dates back to the 11th century. It belongs to the "synthetic" language group, which means that unlike English and other "analytical" languages, different grammatical aspects are expressed in one word by changing the structure of that word - adding an ending or prefix, modifying the core of the word, etc. In analytical languages such as English, the same is achieved by using separate auxiliary verbs, pronouns or adjectives while the actual word remains unchanged. In Czech, one word is often sufficient to express what English can only achieve by using multiple words.
In this example, the English verb "go" does not change and needs 1 - 3 "assistant" words (the pronoun and the auxiliary "will", "not" or "do"), whereas in Czech, the verb acts like an all-in-one package:
- jdu I
will go - pùjdu
apple - jablko little apple
Due to the synthetic nature of the language, Czech uses a rather complex system of declension and conjugation. Declension (modifications of a word to express various grammatical categories) affects nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and numerals, while conjugation relates to verbs. See details on nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numbers, and verbs.
The Czech language uses the Latin alphabet, expanded by several specific characters that are used only in Czech. These characters are:
vowels: á, é, í, ó, ú/ù, ý
Unlike English, Czech words are pronounced the way they are written. This is good news. It means that once you learn how to pronounce individual Czech characters, you will be able to pronounce any Czech word.
Stress is always on the first syllable of a word. That syllable is slightly emphasized, like in the English words "table", "memorize" (unlike the English words "December", "Barcelona").
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