English or Czechlish? Seven deadly sins committed by Czech speakers of English.

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Look! I found mushrooms! Perhaps my soul is Czech after all! Anyway, this post isn’t about mushroom picking, popular Czech autumnal pastime though it is. At least not exactly.

I spend a lot of time listening to Czech people speak English. It is my job after all. Patient, professional and courteous as I think I am (99% of the time at least), there are a couple of common errors that Czechs make which really grate on my nerves. In the interest of – well, I’m not really sure what exactly – helping others? having a bit of a moan? – I’m going to share some my pet hates with you all here.

1. Notebook. This is a small item made of paper. It has pages. It cannot be plugged in nor hooked up to the internet. Notebook means blok, in British English at least. Please *stop* using this word when you want to say laptop.

2. Meeting, appointment. You do not have a meeting with your friend at the cinema tomorrow. Or an appointment. You have meetings at work. Equally, you make an appointment with your doctor. Or your hairdresser. Or your accountant or chiropodist or tax inspector.  An appointment is not a social arrangement. Ok?

3. Schoolmate.  This word does exist in English but we never use it.  We would always say, ‘someone I was at school with’ not ‘my ex-schoolmate’.  It sounds very weird – perverted almost – to listen to a fifty year old man talking about how he’s going to have dinner with his schoolmates, former or otherwise on a Friday night. I imagine them all sitting around their local hospoda in school uniforms acting out bizarre fantasies. Stop it. Now.

4. Fantasy.  Speaking of fantasies, avoid telling someone English that you have a lot of them.  Unless you find them overwhemingly attractive.  The word you’re probably looking for is ‘imagination’.  ‘Fantasies’ in this context has unfortunate sexual connotations.

5. Pick up mushrooms.  You do not pick up mushrooms.  Unless you managed to collect so many of them that a couple of fungi fell out of the basket onto the floor and you had to bend over to retrieve them.  You pick them.  ‘Pick’ is the verb you require.  Given how it’s even more of a national sport than hockey you should learn to discuss it correctly.

6. SMS.  Although this acroymn stands for Short Message Service, unfortunately, native speakers of English *never* talk about sending each other an SMS. We send a text or even just text each other. 

7. THE Czech Republic.  I know articles are difficult.  The more I teach here in Czechland, the more pointless I think they are.  However, if you miss them out, you’ll sound like you’re speaking some kind of  ‘You Tarzan, me Jane’ English.  Which I’m sure you’d rather avoid.  So while confusing most countries don’t take the article (the turkey being the animal rather than the place) please, please, please remember that it’s always THE Czech Republic.  And don’t even think about saying ‘In Czech’ , when you want to talk about your native land unless you really want to upset me.

I know how difficult it is to try to learn another language – hey, I spend everyday at the moment battling with your four genders and seven cases – but just by making some very, very small changes you can instantly make yourself sound less alien to a native speaker and let’s face it, we’d all like to find that magic shortcut to sounding less foreign if we can.

Apologies if I sound like a grumpy pedant today and thanks to everyone who has replied to my Czech language related queries in the comments section. Quirkier, hopefully more amusing posts will soon follow. I can feel something brewing about Czechs and their sense of style (or lack of…)  Here’s a little visual taster…

105 Comments

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105 Responses to English or Czechlish? Seven deadly sins committed by Czech speakers of English.

  1. Woa, woa, whoa! Four genders? Damn it, either stuff changed since I was going to school or you got something very wrong too!

    Anyway, being a Czech-man myself, I found also very annoying when people talk in English, but in fact they use Czech sentences and structure which an English-man would never use.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Honza,
      Well, when I said four genders, I was cheating a little bit by counting masculine animate and inanimate separately…. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of things I get *completely* wrong when I speak Czech!
      GIC

  2. Ondřej

    Too bad you didn’t mention pronunciation. I don’t mean that Slavic accent, but mispronounced words like ‘event’, ‘hotel’ etc.

    Other sins include mixing do/make, tell/say and not using the present perfect tense.

  3. Tereza

    Hello Miss GIC,
    you can’t imagine how difficult it is to switch from ‘notebook’ to ‘laptop’ 🙂 these false friends are the worst. Now, all Anglicized (hihihi) I often use the word laptop when speaking Czech as well and everybody are rather confused. Anyway, I have to admit I do abbreviate the Czech rep. to Czech only quite often. I’m truly sorry and will try to avoid doing so when talking to you 🙂

    Btw, another friend of mine is also an English language teacher and he doesn’t understand why Czechs (or at least those he knows) use the phrase ‘it is quite ok’. Any thoughts about that?

    Will be in Prague next weekend. Woo-hoo. Hi to Czechman.

  4. Hynek

    Hi GIC,

    Please help me improve my Czenglish – what kind of social arrangement do you have with your friend at the cinema? How would you say it?

    H.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Hynek,
      I agree with Aussie Carl’s suggestion: we would just say something like ‘I’m meeting up with X tonight at the pub’ or to arrange a specific time with a friend for a social arrangement, I’d say ‘Do you fancy meeting up at the pub tonight? What about 7pm?’ I don’t think we have a noun that would replace ‘appointment’ or ‘meeting’ for this kind of informal thing. In this kind of situation, Czechman always says ‘English is such a poor language’ 😉
      Hope that helps and thanks for your suggested translations of ‘Did you have a good time?’ (although no doubt I’ll just stammer out something in cavewoman Czech as usual when the time comes…)
      GIC

  5. Laurita

    Just wait ’til you’ve been here a few more years…..I have started using ‘SMS’ now without really noticing (my brother kindly alerted me to my non-native speaker usage). Numbers 2 and 5 I agree with, but I seem to have become immune to the rest of your selection. What annoys me:
    1. THE Prague (more annoying than Czech Republic without an article)
    2. We went to the cinema with my boyfriend (when it was just the boyfriend and girlfriend)
    3. ‘Fall down’ used when they mean just ‘fall’
    4. ‘Event’ pronounced as eeeevent.
    BTW, did you know there is a Czechlish textbook?

  6. Mirek51

    Hallo Englishwomanka!
    I understand you are annoyed when you hear us speak English which is not English, in fact. You cannot imagine how strenuous it was for us to learn new English words like SMS, notebook, Czech (=Česko), “slipy” which is not slips but also comes from English, etc.
    But please try to understand us, who are Czech, not Czechmen and Czechwomen, and who really live in Czech, not Czechland or THE Czechland, that some of your opinions concerning language issues are not objective. Do not try to force them to us or to other English speakers who feel it another way.
    While you seem to be trying to help us find the way out of our Czechlish, you do not really reveal to us what actually we are expected to say, except “to pick mushrooms”, “laptop” the word which I hate when used in Czech instead of “noutbuk” – by the way, who holds his “laptop” on his lap? I have never seen such a thing. Further, you say we do not have an appointment or a meeting with a friend. All right. But do you really mean we have a “social arrangement” with him/her?
    “Former schoolmates” – short and clear (4 syllables instead of 7 in Czech). I would really not bother to say “people I was at school with”, though I understand that a schoolmate is for an English person only somebody who is at school with now, that is, for a child. What about to say “one-time schoolmates”? Also false?
    You would be really welcome to explain to us what unfortunate sexual connotations could “fantasies” have, once you try to illuminate us, if you do.
    Most of the time I have a feeling that you are reporting to your English-speaking folk on how we, a stone-age people (if people, not monkeys) in the middle of Europe, are doing. I often find your blog funny and interesting but sometimes I am quite irritated. Like today. How does your “Czechman” feel about it?

    • Hmmm … definitely a little grumpy today! 😉

      I agree with you on 2, 4, 5 & 7. The others however I have a problem with.

      Notebooks are the paper bound books you scribble your notes in. The word is ALSO used to describe a smaller version of the laptop. Often less powerful and lighter.

      I am 33 an use the word “schoolmate”. We also regularly hear the terms “old schoolmates” or “old school friends”. For example … “I’m going to visit some old schoolmates tonight.”

      “SMS” is used here but perhaps not as much as “text” or “message”. For example … “Send me an SMS”, “Text me”, “Message me”.

      Mirek51 … To answer your question about “fantasy”. Whilst it is similar to “imagination” it does have a sexual connotation in English speaking cultures. When you have a “fantasy” it generally means that you have a “sexual wish with regards to a particular person.” For example … “I have this fantasy where the woman is wearing a little black dress.”

      As for the “meeting” and “appointment” words. I would use something like … “I’m catching up with a friend tonight” or “I’m meeting a friend at the cinema later”.

      Now, you need to keep this fact in mind when reading my comment … I’m Australian! So we may not use the language as accurately as the British folk but we are damned better than the Americans! 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Carl,
        Thanks for your comment. I’m really interested to hear that you Aussies would use ‘old school mate’: perhaps I’ll have to stop moaning about it now, although a few of my other British and American friends agree it sounds odd. And I agree with your alternative suggestions for ‘meeting’ and ‘appointment’ although perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the Americans: they do outnumber us after all…
        GIC

      • Su

        Looking at the notebooks offered at THE Apple site http://www.apple.com/why-mac/compare/notebooks.html) I stop commenting on this word and post.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Mirek,
      Oh no! I’m really sorry that you feel like I’m talking about Czech people as though they were cavemen or women sometimes! I really *do* try not to be patronising and without being too much of an asskisser, I hope my posts show that generally life here in the Czech Republic is treating me very well indeed. Still, I will bear in mind everything you’ve said and keep an eye on my tone in future (while hopefully still being allowed to be a little bit ironic sometimes :))
      As for the linguistic issues being a matter of personal taste to an extent, yes, you are completely right, and I wouldn’t want to force my views on anyone. At the end of the day, to say ‘schoolmate’ rather than ‘someone I went to school with’ doesn’t even really count as a mistake as such, it’s just the kind of thing that would mark you out as being a non-native speaker. Ultimately I suppose its worth remembering that such a list of mini/stylistic mistakes made by foreign speakers of Czech would be impossible to put together as so few of us ever progress to a decent level… And again, without wanting to sound too ass-kissy (ha! I created a word!) my Czech learners and the Czechs I meet here generally have a much higher level of English than the French adult students I had, probably because the stakes are higher – if you’re Czech and you go abroad, greeting people with a hearty ‘Dobry den’ isn’t going to get you very far…
      Oh, and Czechman is generally a fan of the blog but gets irritated when I go on about his stinginess…
      GIC

      • Mirek51

        Hallo GIC!
        Thanks for your answer. I hope everything is forgiven between us.
        Concerning the nouns “meeting” and “appointment”: I feel that the problem is the way of expressing the subject. Many people in Czech start the sentence with “I have a … (and when they do not know how to go on they say “an appointment” or, in the worse case, “a meeting”) with XY”. But the solution is in the idiom. You (English speakers) use the verb, while some (foreign, including Czech) people try to use a noun. Instead of “Mám schůzku (noun) s Pepou” we should say “Setkám se (verb) s Pepou”. (I have an appointment with Pepa vs I am meeting up with Pepa). This is what you should teach your students.
        It is midnight, good night!

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Mirek,
        Everything is indeed forgiven 🙂 I think your explanation is excellent and I will definitely use it with my students so thanks.
        Long live Czechland – I must go and cook English breakfast for Czechman’s parents…
        GIC

    • Mareš

      Dunno ’bout you, but I live in Czechia, not in Czech. 😛

    • Honza

      Česky (ať se anglický mluvčí trochu zapotí):

      Mirku, nebuď vztahovačný. Když rodilý mluvčí řekne, že Češi dělají v angličtině chyby, tak pro to má asi důvod. Buď rád, že ti o nich řekne. Když zmíní chybu, která se tě netýká, buď rád, že se tě netýká, a nečerti se.
      A že ti vlastní anglická verze zní líp enbo jednodušeji, než verze paní Angličanové… Nic ve zlém, ale měl by ses zamyslet, kdo ovládá který jazyk na vyšší úrovni.

      Zkrátka zkus příště snést trochu rozumné kritiky, která navíc byla podána velice slušně. Přeci jenom je větší zábava číst lehce opepřené články, než zcela politicky korektní žvásty.

      A na závěr – poslední tři hodiny mám notebook na klíně.

  7. Kuba Uchytil

    Dear GIC,

    I believe that it’s a little more complicated than that with “laptop” vs. “notebook”. Just Google it 🙂 Regardless of the confusion in English, and even though you definitely prefer the former, Czech has simply assimilated the latter word and simply ignores “laptop” – that’s why you keep hearing “notebook”, because that’s what it is to us. And surprisingly that might often be correct (again, see Google). It’s definitely not just us or our local obsession, one of the terms might eventually prevail, but for now I’ll keep my notebook… And call it a laptop when I talk to an American, just to be sure 🙂

    As for “schoolmate”, I suspect that it has an origin in one of the prevalent English textbooks used in the 90’s. It is hard to unlearn what was once beaten into you, but I’d try converting people to “classmate” instead. Would that be OK?

    But I do feel your pain 🙂 If these little quirks didn’t exist, wouldn’t the word be, well, fantastic? 😛

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Kuba,
      Re the whole “classmate”/”schoolmate” business: this word exists, but native speakers wouldn’t use it as adults really to talk about their friends. It sounds very formal and unnatural (in my view, but others may disagree). We would say, ‘someone I went to school with’. I’d avoid using ‘colleague’ too if I want to talk about meeting up with someone socially: for example, if you say ‘I’m meeting my colleague for a beer’ it sounds a bit like you’re not really friends with them but have been forced to socialise with them against your will. Again I’d say, ‘I’m meeting a friend from work for a drink’ instead.
      These *aren’t* mistakes as such so perhaps I should just be less uptight about it 🙂
      GIC

  8. #13

    The Czechs didn’t, of course, invent the use of the word ‘notebook’ for laptops. If you Google ‘notebook’ it gives you quite a lot images of ‘laptops’ on English-speaking web sites. http://www.google.cz/images?hl=en&rlz=&q=notebook&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

    How about that?

    BTW, I am also wondering what the fourth gender might be…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello there,
      The great Notebook vs Laptop debate: GIC responds…
      Czechman warned me that I would (and I quote) “look like an idiot” if I tried to claim that the word ‘notebook’ should only be used to refer to something made of paper. However, I have asked my native speaker friends of different nationalities (American, Australian…) and they all agree that they would not usually use the word to talk about a portable computer but that software companies *do* try to brand laptops ‘notebooks’. Now some of the things on my list (i.e schoolmate vs person I went to school with) wouldn’t cause any confusion in terms of meaning, but when my student disappears off to her office to look for her ‘notebook’, how am I supposed to know if she’s coming back with something with a keyboard or pages?
      Anyway, may I end this by saying I just wish my Czech were good enough to have to worry about these kinds of issues: at my current rate of progree maybe in ten years we’ll be able to discuss the laptop/notebook debate over a beer in Cesky 😉
      And as for the fourth gender, I cheated a little bit by counting masculine animate and inanimate separately: hope you can forgive me 🙂
      GIC

      • #13

        Just a note: There are thousands of examples where one word is used for two completely different things in one language whilst not in the other. Perhaps just as weird it is for a Czech that you say “cable car” — a car, really? 🙂 Or that you use the word bike for bicycles and motorbikes. I could ask the same — if someone is looking for their “bike” how am I supposed to know if he’s coming back on something with an engine? 🙂

        And what just stroke my mind: If there ever had been an English government in the Czech Rep, all the dictionaries in the world would call “notebook” something like Czech English or Beer English (as in Kiwi English) :))). But because English is completely foreign to us, it is regarded as a mistake. // I hope you understand what I mean here.

        I guess we love the word so much because it’s such a lovely metaphor, isn’t it? 🙂

      • girlinczechland

        Hello #13,
        Like the examples and I quite agree with you. I suppose ‘notebook’ is indeed a lovely metaphor: aren’t languages as fascinating as they are complicated? 😉
        GIC

      • Russ

        Yes, “notebook” can and is used by native speakers to talk about very small computers. BUT–and this is the important thing for speaking and being understood–unless you are already talking about computers or it’s clear because you are holding the item or pointing to it, if you say “I had my notebook” or “I was working in my notebook” to a native speaker, they will always picture the paper kind “blok/sešit”. If you mean the small computer, you should say “notebook computer”. With “laptop” the extra “computer” isn’t necessary, but to be sure you’re understood, you should get in the habit of saying “notebook computer” together as one item.
        Of course notebook is an English word…notebook computers are called that because they are the size of a notebook (to differentiate them from laptops, which are ‘small enough to fit on your lap’…notebook computers being smaller). However, in the general vocabulary of native speakers, laptop is the word that has stuck for both types in general. So, a salesman/woman at the computer store will tell you “THIS is a laptop and THAT is a notebook,” for most people, they’re all just “laptops”.
        So again, in 95% of conversations “notebook”=papers bound together for writing in and “notebook computer” or “laptop”= smaller, flat computer.

        My problem is that I’m starting to make mistakes in MY English, because I’m so used to hearing them all the time. To go somewhere “by foot” now sounds correct for me…I actually have to think about it and picture the page in Murphy’s that says “we use BY with car, bus, train, etc. NOTE: But we say ON FOOT.”
        Also, I can never think of how to say correctly in English what most Czech people describe as “the nature”. (“I was in Slovenia last month, and I just loved the nature”. Does a native English speaker say this? I remember thinking it strange years ago, but now it not only sounds right, but I can’t even think of a better way to say it!?!)

        That, and there are some words that I know in Czech better than English. That is, when I’m speaking English and I come to this word, the Czech word comes to mind first, and I have to translate it to English before I say it. A few examples are “Porek (leek)”, “Faktura (invoice)”, and “Merunka (apricot)”. I knew all of these words in English before moving to Prague, but I almost never used them. Now I write fakturas several times a month, and that’s how I actually think the sentence in my mind…if I want to say it out loud, I have to mentally change ‘faktura’ to ‘invoice’. It’s crazy!

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Russ,
        As the notebook/laptop topic really does seem to have been done to death here, I’ll say no more here other than I wholeheartedly agree with you Russ: thanks for the detailed explanation. And as for starting to make mistakes or use odd expressions in English, you have my utmost sympathies. I’m sure my own English has been a little bit contaminated by my daily exposure to my learners 🙂
        I occasionally (but only occasionally as my Czech is still middling) have the other difficulty you mention. The words that sometimes accidently slip out in Englishare ‘chata’ (surprise, surprise as let’s face it, there’s no real adequate English equivalent – ‘weekend house’ sounds a bit posh to me and ‘cottage’ doesn’t really prepare someone who has no prior knowledge of Czech culture to spend two days in a wooden hut with no inside toilet) and weirdly ‘Chorvatsko’ – probably because before living here I never thought of going on holiday there…
        GIC

  9. I’ve gotten used to SMS instead of text.

    Notebook drove me mental but I’ve excepted it. I thought ‘notebook’ must be have been British English. Guess not.

    The one that gets me still is when folks confuse ‘borrow’ and ‘lend’. For example, “My friend borrowed me some money.” I know it is because in Czech they use the same word for both but it’s still a pet peeve for me.

  10. Hi GIC,

    thanks for the informative post. I found that I’m a sinner, too… 🙂

    Notebook, schoolmate… oh yes, I even sometimes use the meeting, appointment in this wrong context, but I always felt it is not the right way… now I’m sure.

    Regarding mushrooming, for long time I thought that the use of “hunting” in “mushroom hunting” is a nonsense… when somebody said it, I fantas… ehm, imagined little mushrooms running in woods screeming and hunters with bizzare weapons trying to kill them.

    Regarding The Czech Republic… I think it is more foreigners who use the word “Czech” as the name of the country, but I can be mistaken. Apparently, the lack of an established one-word name of the country (also in Czech language) confuses people.

    SMS -> text… I have to say that I have a difficulty to use the word “text” this way…. I do not know why, but it sounds wrong or weird to me to say “I’ll text you”…

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Jezovec,
      I know what you mean about using ‘text’ as a verb. I can cope with that now but I still have problems talking about ‘Facebooking’ people…
      ‘Mushroom hunting’ isn’t strictly speaking, the Queen’s English, but I was trying to sound funny. I found the biggest one by the way but it was full of maggots 🙁
      GIC

      • But I started to like the “mushroom hunting” phrase as well, after being explained by a native English speaker that “hunting” has more meanings then just the “violent killing of wild animals in the wild Nature” 🙂

        And yes, the rule is the bigger the mushroom, then more eaters it already boards…

        So I hope the other were all right and you and the Czechman enjoyed fresh smaženice or kulajda.

  11. Even though I’m Czech, I couldn’t agree more on most of these (especially the articles – most of the Czech people seem to be totally oblivious to them for some strange reason – and of course the SMS issue) – though I’m pretty sure I’m most likely guilty as sin as well, at least from time to time.
    However, as for the “notebook” vs. “laptop” (and I do apologise for bringing this up once again, but I didn’t see this mentioned in the posts before) – while I am of course perfectly aware of the traditional meaning of the word “notebook” and I do understand where you’re coming from, I was always (for almost 20 years of dealing with all things IT) led to believe that notebooks are not laptops, meaning that “notebooks” are the smaller, slimmer and lighter kind of portable computers, while “laptops” are chunkier, have larger screens, more power etc. So if someone tells me his “laptop” is broken, I expect a different kind of machine than when he’s got problems with his “notebook”. Nowadays, there are of course also “netbooks”, which are even smaller than “notebooks”. And I don’t think this distinction is a Czech invention (which of course doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a correct one).
    I’ve also never before seen or heard anyone complaining about the “schoolmate/classmate” thing, which fascinates me, to be honest 🙂 How could I miss it in all these years… Curiouser and curiouser…

  12. michael

    Well, I agree on some of the issues, but not all. As a native speaker English I often say things like, “In Czech they wear house shoes at home and at the doctor’s office.” Saying “In the Czech” would be horribly awkward. Then again I’ve already introduced “Czech” earlier in the conversation by saying “my wife is from THE Czech Republic”

    I won’t criticize Czech speakers for messing up English because I can barely order a meal in Czech…though I can discipline my children quite well in that language.

    Nice papuci…are those for home or work?

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Michael,
      You’re right, perhaps we English speakers ought to bear in mind the usually lamenable state of our own Czech speaking skills before critizing their (usually) infinitely superior linguistic skills. And the sandals and socks in the picture are indeed modelled by myself albeit for the purposes of visually enriching the blog you understand…
      GIC

      • Honza

        No, you should not. You can say you don’t like the way someone draws pictures even though you cannot do better.

  13. Sarka

    I’m the only one who will so far comment on mushrooms you found 🙂 I feel special and kind :-))

    Good job, GIC, they are really nice and look edible 🙂

    How did you cook them? Or did you dried them?

    Btw: have you written any article about Czech mushroom hunting yet? Because I’m curious how foreigners who are not used to this activity pick mushrooms here-do you take some books about mushrooms with you or just rely on Czech companions when deciding if the fungi is or isn’t edible…, how do you prepare when going for mushrooms to the woods for the first time-to know that you need a basket (not a plastic bag), knife (to save the spawn in the land), find the right places where enough mushrooms are… Had you packed a snack before you went, like a good Czech?

    (sorry for quite a lot of questions, I’m just really interested 🙂 )

    🙂

    Good luck with your four genders 🙂 Should your Czech commentators write in Czech to provide a practice for you? :-))

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Sarka,
      I cooked some of the mushrooms fresh – I fried them in breadcrumbs, I’m sure you know the recipe I mean – and then I dried the rest on our radiator for a good three or four days. We hadn’t really planned to go mushroom picking specifically so we just had a carrier bag and no knife rather than the traditional knife and basket combination. As for knowing which ones were edible, I relied on Czechman’s knowledge as a native. And of course we had plenty of svačina prepared before our walk in the woods…
      And please, do leave (very easy!) comments in Czech so I can practice. Potřebuju pomoc s čestinou… 🙁
      GIC

  14. Sarka

    sorry, all mushrooms in your photos look edible except of the one in the middle, of course 🙂

  15. Eso

    I’m sorry, but there really IS difference between laptop and notebook computer.

    http://www.homeofficebuddy.com/officecomputer/diff-notebook-laptop.shtml

    • girlinczechland

      Hi there Eso,
      Thanks for posting this link shedding more light on the great notebook/laptop debate. I think I would say ‘little laptop’ in everyday speech to describe the notebook you’ve included a link to (if I were Czech, maybe even laptopička) but perhaps I’ll have to accept that Generation Y would do otherwise… Anyway, as #13 says, perhaps you Czechs love using the word so much because it’s such a nice metaphor. And apologies again if the whole post seems a bit grumpy: you all speak English much better than I’m likely to be able to speak Czech for some time 🙁
      GIC

  16. Tremendous article! The one that always gets me by Czechs is “in written” instead of “in written form” or “in writing”.

    Quite a lot of native speakers do use the term “notebook” which was used for a while to describe a smaller laptop. As “SMS” is used all over the continent, it’s creeping into Expat English too, especially those of us have been out here since before the dawn of mobile phones.

    I have never used a “pick up” line on a mushroom, but if I had to find a witty one on the spore of the moment , I’d take advantage of the fact that “she-fox” and “chanterelle” are the same word in Russian. It might put the “fun” back into “fungus”, who knows?

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Victor,
      ‘On the spore of the moment’ made me laugh out loud! Brilliant! Lines likes those certainly do put the fun into fungus 🙂
      GIC

  17. Hi, GIC!

    Glad to see that you are obviously feeling better now!

    Agree with many of your comments, and have been building a list of my own over the years.

    How about the incorrect use of “till”, often misused in sentances such as “Is it possible for you to meet me till Wednesday?”, when “by Wednesday” would have been better?

    Just as well that you’re not GIG or GIA (Girl in Germany or Austria), because you’d crease up, like I do, when they talk about their mobile phones as “Handies” 🙂

    Keep them coming….!

    Richardinprague
    +?

  18. CGC

    Notebook vs. laptop
    Maybe “notebook” sound strange for you but definitely it is not strange to people from world of IT (or World of IT? :). Think of one of the leaders – Apple. Laptops named MacBook? Look what Apple claims: http://www.apple.com/macbook/ (Notebook for everyone). Or mind the “smaller brothers”: netbooks…

  19. Hristo

    Hello GIC,
    It was really interesting to me to read this blog.
    I ‘m not from THE Czech Republic but as a Bulgarian I could understand the czech approach in a slavish style.
    My English is not good also, but I will try to write some comments from my point of view.

    1.Notebook – most of the famous brands are using this word as a model name for the smaller machines ( like HP, Dell, Acer , etc.) and it is already popular.
    2.Meeting , appointment – what about I have a date ?
    Or it is more intimate or in the american way?
    3.Schoolmate – I was using old-schoolmates or ex-schoolmates.
    4.Fantasy – sounds really sexual.
    5.Pick up mushrooms – always using pick – otherwise sounds like American truck= Pickup.
    6.SMS and 7. I think like jezovec – it’s confusing and weird.

    Finally what about “learn”/”teach”? – the word is the same for slavish people…
    How Czechs pronounce : We will ? = Vi Vil ( most of them I know) 🙂

  20. Hi GIC,
    I haven’t visited your blog for a few days & arrive to find 38 comments on your most recent post – wow!

    As you have used the Christian metaphor, ‘Seven deadly sins’, to entitle your blogpost, may I offer you an example of a further ‘deadly sin’ committed by Czech speakers of English from my line of work. I refer to their inability to distinguish
    between the noun and title ‘Saint’ and the adjective ‘holy’. This arises because in Czech, the word ‘svatý’ is used for both.

    My English-speaking congregation worship in ‘Kostel Svatý Klimenta’ which we anglicize as ‘Saint Clement’s Church’. But ‘Boží svaté jméno’ should be ‘God’s holy name’. The most public example of this mistake is scattered all around Prague 6 where there are a series of flowerbeds which have been financed by various foreign embassies. Plaques in both Czech and English explain which embassy has been responsible for which flowerbed. They also explain that the project has raised money for a local charity, the Roman Catholic ‘Home of the Holy Family’ which works with handicapped children and teenagers. But of course, the institution is entitled in English as the ‘Home of Saint Family’!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Ricky,
      Thanks for drawing attention away from the great laptop vs notebook debate…
      While we’re on a religious theme may I also that Czechs (and the French for that matter) often confuse the words ‘cult’ and ‘sect’ which really could cause not just confusion or offence: Catholicism and Anglicanism being, as far as I’m aware, different sects and the Moomies – do they still exist, I wonder – being a cult.
      I’ve been amazed by how much interest this post has sparked off but promise to be a little less grumpy and pedantic in the next one!
      GIC

      • Mirek51

        Dear GIC,
        this debate is becoming a bit too expert. I know the people here in Czech (being all atheists) are not able to distinguish correctly these things even in Czech. When I was in church we called the different branches of Christianity “denominations” but “sects” were those whose teachings departed from the teaching of the Bible. Of course, R. Catholics do not like to hear they are just a denomination because they consider themselves to be the only genuine Christian church and the others are fallen brothers. But this is what practically all denominations think about the others, otherwise they would lose the reason for their existence. A “sect” seems to be eg the Adventists who observe Saturdays (which is the Old Testament and, consequently, non-Christian habit) instead of Sundays. The word cult does not seem to be appearing among Christians.

  21. Jamie

    Hello GIC,
    What a great blog I just found! And especially this most recent post…
    I moved to Prague a year ago this week, and have got to agree with all the 7 sins! I seem to have started using ‘SMS’ though, so I agree with Christopher and Laurita
    Really great blog, will definitely be reading this again!
    Jamie

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Jamie,
      Glad you like the blog. Have fun on your own adventures in Czechlandia and hope you have lots of appointments and meetings in pubs with classmates to help avoid homesickness (that’s a joke, a JOKE!)
      GIC

  22. Paul Oxenham

    Hi GIC,
    You’re becoming something of a star. I’m also a native speaking English ‘teacher’ and was informed about your blog by one of my students who enjoyed it. In fact, we had a 90 minute lesson about it!! I agree that there are many sins commited by Czechs learning English, but most of the time their English is a whole lot better than our Czech!! It’s a good idea to highlight them on here and, hopefully, help some of the guys (and gals) who read the blog. I, for one, will come back for more entertainment and try to give my tuppenceworth when i have the time.
    For now, i will share with you a couple of quotes from students of mine in recent weeks. I will leave it to you to explain the meanings!!
    One of my students was talking about having a bbq and was telling me about ‘beating his meat’!
    The 2nd star quote came from a fellow teacher who shouted me into her classroom and asked me if i wanted to see her ‘puppies’!
    Double entendres are my favourite thing about teaching and, most of the time, are very difficult to explain (especially to 60yr old women).
    Enjoy explaining to the masses, and i will enjoy keeping an eye on your page. Take care and good luck.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Paul,
      Well, this is all very flattering! When I started the blog I didn’t really imagine it would have a Czech audience so I’m glad your students have taken an interest in it.
      ‘Beating his meat’ – lol and then some! I really did laugh most heartily at this – I too enjoy a good double entendre – but at the same time it did almost put me off my lunch 😉 Who knows, next year I might dedicate a post to Czechs and the barbeque…
      Thanks for the positive feedback 🙂
      GIC

  23. Petra

    Notebook is the word, which we take from English to Czech – it is “počeštěné”http://prirucka.ujc.cas.cz/?slovo=notebook&Hledej=Hledej
    thats a why we are using it despite the fact that the word notebook means something else in English than in Czech. Where is the problem? Are u sure that the words in English you took form another language you are using absolutely in the same meaning ( the first meaning, historical one?). Its just “language evolution”…and tax you paid for the fact that english is the global language…

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Petra,
      I take your point about English’s status as a world language having an impact on its evolution – there are probably more non-native speakers of English out there than native speakers these days – but let’s face it, no-one likes paying taxes 😉
      GIC

  24. Mme Verdurin

    Hi there, I just found your blog via Cuketka… always interesting to read non=Czech perspectives on Czech life. Anyway, it is perfectly acceptable, and very common, in American English to use the word “notebook” for a laptop computer. Really! So maybe it offends your British linguistic propriety but Yanks are def. OK with it.

    That said, I don’t want to criticize or argue or anything… it’s just that there are, to me, much worse sins out there commited by Czechs speaking English.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Katerina,
      There are indeed worse sins: it was a very subjective list and most of the things there were tiny – I hesitate to use the word for such small things – errors. Anyway, the post *does* seem to have really got people talking and I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments as always… In the interests of balance, I’m thinking of doing a post listing my top 5 most comic errors in Czech. Watch this space…
      GIC

  25. Mme Verdurin

    Sorry, please disregard my previous comment, I hadn’t read the comment thread before posting… ugh. No use beating this dead horse.

  26. Marek

    Hi GIC,
    This post is both hilarious as well as educational….I think you might be doubling up your teaching by providing this “on-line course” on errors in using English by the Czechs. This only second to what I found most useful before moving to the US, which was the Nick Sinclair’s “Wang-dang American Slang” book, one of the first informal sources for us back then in the 90’s (not counting the other brave soul first foreign lecturers coming to deal with us “behind the rion curtainers back then and paved the way for the ones like yourself). Great job and keep writing, I see two more articles I haven’t read yet – keep them coming and thanks for your efforts. Best of luck.

    P.S. There is a great mushroom season in Maine at the moment. I have never seen so many real boletes (“pravaky” or “dubaky”) in my life. They are just about everywhere right now, so we go pick them all the time (often have to indeed pick them up from the ground as there are so many). Of course my 10-year old daughter is now thought to be from a “witch family” by her US schoolmates as none of the Americans would touch a mushroom not bought at the supermarket.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Marek,
      Glad the post made you smile. While I’m glad to hear that there are plenty of mushrooms in Maine, thus allowing you to indulge in a traditional Czech autumn pastime, I really do hope your daughter doesn’t get too much hassle from her classmates (I’m using the word in the appropriate context here so it’s ok ;))
      GIC

  27. We wanna more articles like that 🙂

  28. Eva

    Hi GIC, I just found your blog and must say it’s really interesting and helpful. Here I have some ‘Překladatelský oříšek’ for you. How would you say ‘Večer jdu na třídní sraz’ in English? Because from your article I suppose that something like ‘I’m having an old-classmate meeting tonight’ is not the right option=).

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Eva,
      How about “I’m meeting up with some people I went to school with”? Or (and I know the difference may sound miniscule) but you could also say “I’m meeting up with some mates from school”? The word “schoolmates” sounds very old fashioned and unnatural to me although I know one Australian here disagrees with me so as so often is the case in these matters, it’s impossible to find one right answer 🙂
      GIC

    • sabina

      school reunion

  29. michaela

    this is the 1st time ive read you and i love it. i wonder why you put mistake no. 10 as ten as i think its the most crucial. i get soooooo angry-disappointed at people who say i am from Czech, in Czech we eat blah blah… its THE Czech Rep and nothing else.

    thank you so much for this, i hope many ppl read it.

    good luck living with czechs haha

    michaela

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Michaela,
      Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Since I wrote this, I’ve noticed that even some of my native speaker friends living here have started saying ‘in Czech Republic’ or even the frankly hideous ‘in Czech’ so I guess I’m fighting a losing battle 🙁 Still, so long as my minor moans continue to entertain people, I’ll carry on inflicting them on the blogosphere…
      GIC

      • michaela

        yeah actually i didnt put it there but some of my friends – native speakers (not only nigeria with a grammar thats not proper, but even canadians!!!) – say im going to Czech or have you been to prague? i love czech (meaning the country). also at my work we had an exercise where we were supposed to correct all the grammatical mistakes and i said – well theres an article missing in front of Czech republic (written with a lower r, of course) and she was like: i dont see it as a mistake.. well… but well fight wont we haha….

  30. Michaela

    Careful! How about a capital ‘I’ for the first person singular, a captial ‘N’ for ‘nigeria’ and a capital ‘C’ for ‘canadians’? And what about the missing apostrophes in ‘didnt’, ‘thats’, ‘im’, ‘theres’, ‘well’ and ‘wont’? Be careful about complaining about the speck of sawdust before dealing with the plank of wood…….

    • michaela

      Dear whichever-your-name-is,

      I’m sorry for disappointing you but of course I know how to write properly. Just sometimes, when I talk through IM (or should I write Instant messenger?), e-mails or basically everywhere where it does not require a proper English, I tend to write without punctuation, capital letters and apostrophes. Why? Because it’s just much faster and easier. However, if you read any of my school work, you would realize (may I use American English or do you want the proper Oxford one such as realise because it is the “original” one) that my written English is pretty stunning, being a Czech person with only Czech heritage.

      • I guess chaplain.cz’s point was somewhere along the lines that if you say you “get soooooo angry-disappointed” when someone makes a mistake, it comes out somehow hypocritic when you (consciously, as it is) choose to ignore certain language rules… But I guess anything goes when your “written English is pretty stunning”…

        I do wonder, though…how exactly is butchering some language by ignoring capital letters, punctuation and apostrophes “much faster and easier”? Don’t tell me the ocassional comma, fullstop, apostrophe or capital letter slows you down THAT much…

        It’s just an excuse, really, nothing more. And sort of double standard-ish at that…

      • girlinczechland

        Hi Michaela, Chaplain and Case,
        Wow, I see this little exchange as proof that questions of what’s correct when it comes to language certainly can provoke strong reactions – which was the theme of my original post really. I have to agree with Case and Chaplain here – we should be careful we aren’t kettles calling the pot black – but I do think that Michaela is right to remind us English native speakers that we are very fortunate indeed to have been born speaking a world language. I’m sure I wouldn’t have so nearly so many readers – and therefore not nearly as much fun – if my blog were in Czech, not to mention the fact that there’s a long way to go before I have the necessary language skills for that!
        New post to follow fairly soon…
        GIC

    • michaela

      By the way – looking at your personal blog – maybe you should “copy” the names of the Czech cities mentioned with more attention. Baťa also comes with an accent. Thank you.

      PS: You see, nobody is perfect. I am sure your Czech including pronunciation is stunning. Having a laugh about a menu written in English that does not make sense even in Czech? I agree – it’s a shame that it was not corrected before printing. But hey – lucky you, you were born in a country of the dominant language of the world. We were not plus older people have never studied English because French and German (and then Russian) mattered more, especially in smaller cities – villages. So we all have to work hard to speak your language. so dont judge us for not writing well, even though the reasons are different.

      • michaela

        well then lets say im an ignorant cause i do the same in my native tongue. i dont write with ten fingers so using a limited space of the keyboard just makes it faster. but yeah, call me an ignorant cause even in czech i write without accents.

      • Firstly, my apologies GIC, for being the originator of this little spat all over your blog! However I hope you will allow me to respond to Michaela & the issues she then raises.

        Firstly Michaela – pointing out the mistake of a Czech person writing ‘Czech republic’ instead of ‘the Czech Republic’, but then writing ‘nigeria’ and ‘canadians’ in the self-same paragraph, just struck me as laughable. Or, as Case puts it, ‘double standard-ish’.

        Secondly, at one level, I do appreciate the fact that I am fortunate to be a native speaker of what you describe as a ‘dominant world language’. But as GIC & I have commiserated with each other on this blog previously, this has it downsides too. When native English-speakers, such as GIC & myself, try to learn and use another language such as Czech, we frequently get spoken back to in English or asked why we are bothering to try & learn another language in the first place. Yet at the same time, we have to listen to the constant complaint of non-first language English-speakers, who are forever saying that we are not good at learning other languages!

        Thirdly, you then complain that on my blog http://www.rickyyates.com , I don’t always use all the correct diacritics when writing Czech place names. There is a simple reason for this – most web browsers cannot cope with them and instead render the letter with the correct diacritic as a ‘?’.

        When I write a blogpost, I do it in a ‘word.doc’, which allows me to insert every diacritic I need. But when I then copy and paste it into my website, I get place names full of question marks! It seems that most web browsers can cope with ‘š’ and ‘ž’ but not with ‘e hácek’, ‘r hácek’ or ‘c hácek’. I am of course aware that ‘hácek’ should have a hácek over the ‘c’ but this just illustrates my problem. If anyone can offer me a solution to this problem, I would love to hear from you.

  31. michaela

    I honestly don’t know what to reply. Because of some bad experience with Czech people you summarize that we all think it is not worth for foreigners to learn Czech, that we laugh at the accents and that we do not appreciate your effort. Really?? At the same moment I am an ignorant for not using the right punctuation or whatever when writing on a blog site and then complaining about people writing Czech republic without any accents or with “small” r (the ignorant can’t recall how to say the opposite of capital). I think you totally did not get my point and well why should I care. I am just a Czech person who does not appreciate anything so let it be as you wish. Hope you EVER change your opinion about the bad bad Czech people. If I may ask – why do you live here then?

    • Honza

      Mlč, Míšo, nedělej Čechám ostudu. Prosím. Přečti si příspěvky, na které reaguješ, pak si je přečti ještě jednou, abys měla jistotu, že jsi je pochopila správně.
      Samozřejmě, že si z nás dělají rodilí mluvčí legraci. Asi jako my z Vietnamců. Neděláme to všichni, ale vtipů je na to spousta.
      A doporučuji si ve slovníku zkontrolovat slovo “ignorant”. Je to jeden z těch falešných kamarádů, kteří mohou nadělat spoustu zlé krve.

  32. Pingback: Where is Girl in Czechland? | GIRL IN CZECHLAND

  33. katka

    Hey what about “take gas” and “eat pills”. My Czech husband and his daughter use those and it drives me nuts. “Honey, did you take gas today? It’s on sale” Or “I still have a headache and I already ate 2 pills”.

    • misunka

      Dear Katka, I understand the “take gas” expression but since I am Czech, can you just “correct” the expression eat pills? Is it to take pills?? just making sure. Thank you, Michaela

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Katka,
      I think ‘eat pills’ is just about ok but obviously take pills is more correct. And as I’m British, I would probably ‘get some petrol’ rather than ‘take gas’ anyway 🙂
      GIC

      • misunka

        yeah i think sometimes the differences btwn British and American English are huge, sometimes even meanings of those expressions are funny or non-sense. And imagine being a foreigner :))

  34. sisi

    The thing about the sms is not true. Native speakers of English are not only Englishmen…

    • misunka

      I don’t know if you are talking about the Australians or Africans or some other country but I’ve never heard an American say “a sms”. They also use the word text or message.

  35. We, Americans, never say SMS. You send someone a “text” or maybe a “text message”. But never an SMS.

  36. Bohdan

    Hello everyone
    One thing has already been said by one bright person here, but it´s worth of repeating for effect. There´s an one-word expression for our land in both Czech and English, so there isn´t any lack of them at all!:-) Česky: Česko; in English: Czechia. Not Czechland, please.
    Kind regards to all girls and boys in Czechia!

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Bohdan,
      At the risk of repeating myself, most Czech people I’ve spoken to think Česko is an ugly abbreviation, the sort of cultural equivalent of calling Christmas ‘Xmas’. While I acknowledge that ‘the Czech Republic’ is somewhat cumbersome, I think Czechia sounds ugly too. Still, fortunately English is a flexible enough language that it allows its native speakers to coin their own new terms for things. Long live Czechland!
      GIC

      • misunka

        I totally don’t agree Bohdan. The ugly Česko expression is not official and hopefully will never be, it is still Česká republika. As of Czechia – as far as I know Czechia has the same meaning as Bohemia, which is only a part of the whole Czech Republic so therefore it is not correct. I think a girlinczechland uses this “Czechland” as a hyperbole (or a joke) and I kinda like it.

      • Bohdan

        I´m afraid it´s more the matter of preconception; any aesthetic opinion depends on what we had been used to until the moment of change. There was a similar disagreement over the title Czechoslovakia, and still people got used to it in the end. Czechia is no abbreviation (not to say comparable with “Xmas”!), as is not Slovakia.
        So, Misunka, bear in mind that Czechia IS official name of our country since 1993 and it is not the synonym to Bohemia (which is really just a part of the whole). There is just a bad habit of ridiculing that title even by Czech people and as a result the rest of the world is confused too, which, in general, is just embarrassing. There is no real reason to such arguments, when you think over it honestly!

      • Kasnak

        Just think about the last sentence you wrote. So you can twist and change any word at will and then you start banging on foreigners English. What you say is wrong, six hours ago we found a new term and you are not using it. Are you going to pester others for not using this new term, even if it is wrong and maybe even offending ? Do we have to say Czechland, just because Englishman said so ? I’m just cold turkey to see reaction of English people in case that some foreigner will use the same skill and start saying Englishland just for mere example.

      • Paul Oxenham

        You’re too late! In Scotland we already call it ‘Englandshire’. It is meant in jest, just like ‘Czechland’, and hopefully it is taken this way. Anyone with a ‘smysl pro humor’ should take it this way 🙂

  37. Hamlet II

    Actually, you are wrong on several counts.

    1. A notebook actually does refer to a (usually small) laptop. The second definition of “notebook” in the Oxford English Dictionary is “A portable computer, a laptop.”

    3. Schoolmate – I am a native English speaker and have heard it used in English-speaking countries. It’s certainly a lot more concise than saying “someone I went to school with” – one word instead of six! Besides, it is the direct equivalent of the Czech “spolužák”, so you can hardly blame people for using it.

    4. Fantasy – while I agree that the “sexual connotations” are unfortunate, it is sometimes necessary to use the word, e.g. “Fantasy fiction” or “fantasy land” or simply in referring to a specific fantasy of yours (which would hopefully be uncommon). You would hardly say “Imagination fiction” or “Imagination land”, “I have many imaginations”, etc.

    6. SMS – it is equally correct to say “I will SMS you” or “I have received an SMS from you” as it is to say “I will text you” or “I have texted you”, although I do agree it’s more cumbersome. Again I quote the OED: “SMS, v. intr. To send a text message using SMS (see SMS n.); to communicate by SMS text messaging. Also trans.: to send a text message to (a person, mobile phone, etc.) using SMS; to communicate with (a person) by SMS text message. ” SMS as a noun is defined as: ” Short message service, a digital communication system enabling mobile phones to send and receive short text messages. Hence: a text message sent or received using this system.”

    7. I completely agree that “in Czech” (place not language) and “in Czech Republic” are monstrous, unfortunately I know many native English speakers who commit exactly the same error…?

    Sorry. I’m sure I’m your equal in pedantry. 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Hamlet,
      Hope life is treating you well in Elsinore.
      I think you have surpassed rather than merely equalled me in your pedantry but I am glad you concur wholeheartedly with me on point seven. I also have heard native speakers committing this linguistic sin on an increasingly frequent basis and am worried that this error will soon slip into accepted usage. Eek! We pedants must join forces using the power of the internet and do what we can to stem the tide 😉
      GIC
      P.S Why the Shakespearian moniker out of interest?

      • misunka

        my friends (from native English speaking countries such as Canada, for example) say Czech instead of the CZ all the time!!!! it already sounds strange!! (it is sth like saying “I’m going to English for the weekend” or I like it in American).

      • girlinczechland

        Urrgh! I agree: it’s just horrible! Boiling in oil is too good for those people (along with those who insist on ending every sentence with an exclamation mark for no apparent reason!)!!! 😉
        GIC

  38. evzen gazdos

    ok , and how is your czech coming along? having any trouble with it ?

  39. Pingback: Pozor! Some words commonly misused by Czechs when speaking English | GIRL IN CZECHLAND

  40. JanHus

    What about the misuse of the articles.. Czechs either omit them completely or place it in the wrong expression:
    “Do you live in THE Prague?”
    “She is [a] cute lady”
    “One of the biggest countries in THE Europe”
    “I am [a] hard-working person”

    Gets on my nerves everytime

  41. honza

    Hi,
    I like this post very much. Maybe a short explanation of the mistakes:
    1. Laptop/Notebook. What you call a laptop, we call a notebook. We used to call it a laptop in the beginning of the 90s when it was large. When it got smaller we started to call it a notebook. And basically that is what also Wikipedia says. Both are English words so that’s why we use it in English as well.
    3. Schoolmate. We have the word “spolužák” which basically means “co-pupil”. That’s why we seek a single word in English that we could use to translate this.
    4. Fantasy. That’s a typical false friend. We have the word “fantazie” that means imagination, so we often mistake it for fantasy.
    6. SMS. We use it as a noun. And we even have a verb esemeskovat (means to text someone). Again, it’s an English abbreviation so we tend to use it in English as well.

    So that’s about it 🙂

  42. Carlos Moreno

    Actually the word “notebook” is perfectly right when related to technology. In websites such as Hewlett-Packard they even differentiate between laptops and notebooks. I think the nuance is that a laptop is a much more powerful (more expensive and heavier as well) than a notebook. In other words, laptops are focused to business users whereas notebooks are on home users. Anyway the word notebook is right. Thanks.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Carlos,

      As I’ve already explained, I disagree about the use of the word ‘notebook’. I understand that it’s a brand of laptop, but I’ve *never* heard a native speaker use it to describe any kind of computer. Not once. Only non-natives seem to be defending the use of ‘notebook’ for computers in all the comments on FB and the blog post itself – could it be an example of how second-language speakers of English are determining usage now that there are more of them than we poor old native speakers?

      GIC

      • MichalM

        Wow, this thread is going on and on.
        I think there might be time for another article on these common and quirky mistakes. Hell, this topic could use its own section here!

  43. Adam

    I mostly agree, but “in Czech”, though fundamentally wrong, has become so common that it is almost the norm. I’ve even read an article recently (unfortunatelly cannot find it now) claiming that “Czech” may one day well become the official short name for the Czech Republic 🙂

  44. Paul Oxenham

    Quite simply you write in a notebook with a pen or pencil and you type on a laptop!! There is no other explanation. Go to the UK and try to buy a notebook in a computer shop! They will look at you as if you come from the Czech Republic! 😉 Please let it be the end 😀

    • girlinczechland

      Thank you Paul!

      I really do wish though that I hadn’t kicked this particular hornet’s nest once again by sharing this old post on Facebook yesterday…

      GIC

  45. misunka

    How about this: I say (always) laptop in English, but when referring to a laptop in Czech, I use the “term” notebook, or even more Czech expression: noťas. 🙂

    • Paul Oxenham

      Misa,
      You can say what you like in Czech. Call it a mushroom for all I care 😀 Just don’t use notebook in English when referring to a laptop 😉 I think we have finally reached an agreement 🙂 Good lass 😉

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