Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Keeping up with the two year olds - a Czech word list for toddlers (and their parents)

On a whim, today I asked Caroline how to say 'window' in Czech. She said "oko, ne, okno". And I thought, "At last, translation services!" The image of a dictionary emerging from the pools of primordial slime flickered through my head.

But she wouldn’t repeat the show for Will. Instead, she climbed onto my office chair and ordered me to turn her around and around - "točit" she said. Each time we passed the keyboard, I tried to add another word to the list of Czech words she does use regularly around the simpletons who are her parents. Most are standard Czech words, but a few are what I call children’s Czech, or simply colloquial Czech that C’s picked up from our babysitters.

She hasn’t surpassed us yet (only a matter of time), but she has added to our Czech vocabulary. Who knew heiss (hejs?)had wiggled its way into Czech?!

Our toddler primer, or words C employs
točit - turn
houpi - swing
dolu - down
nahoru - up
ovečka - little sheep
prasátko - pig
pes - dog
kočička - kitty cat
slon - elephant
panenka - doll
balónek - little balloon
boty - shoes
nohy - leg
čepice - hat
t'api t'api - walk
pojd‘sem - come here
nejde - not working
není - isn‘t
hači - sit down
haji - lie down
čurat - pee
bobek - little pellet, poop
tak - so
to - it
tam - there
tady - here
ne - no
prosim - please
děkuju - thank you
ahoj - hello/goodbye
heiss - hot
ham - food
papat - to eat
vejce - egg
kaše - gruel ;-)
mlíko - milk
sušenka - cookie
bonbon - sweet
spinkat - to sleep
plakat - to cry
holčička - little girl
pán - man
mimi - little baby
písek - sand
pá pá - bye bye

Warning: some of these spellings are probably off, as no dictionary I've found includes haji, let alone tapi tapi. If anyone has better spelling suggestions, please send them in, I'll mail you a postcard as thanks!

Update: haji is from hajat, and t'api t'api from t'apat (also perhaps tlapat?). They can both be found in Lingea Lexicon - if you know what you're looking for.

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Dana said...

Hi Julia,

Here's the perfected spelling of some of the words on your list, plus a few additions. :) I've never heard heiss used in Czech, only in German.

ovečka - little sheep
prasátko - little pig
pejsek - doggie
balón - balloon / ball
balónek - little balloon / little ball
botičky - little shoes
nohy - legs
nožičky - legs (in baby talk)
ťapi ťapi - walk
ťapat - to walk
pojď sem - come here
není - isn't (or "gone")
kam - where
tam - there
prosím - please
pálí - hot
kaše - hot cereal (e.g. Malt-O-Meal)
mlíčko - milk (in baby talk)
bonbon - candy
pán - man
pá pá - bye bye
bebínko - booboo, owie

Pá pá now!


Julia said...

Thanks Dana, I've updated my list with your corrected spellings! What is funny to me about the way that C has learned to speak Czech is that she uses a mix of diminutives and normal Czech slang. So she says mlíko rather than mlíčko, and boty rather than botičky, but then does call pigs prasátko and sheep ovečka.

I asked a few people about heiss (probably spelled hejs?) and they told me it is common slang in Moravia and heard on occasion around kids in Prague, often to indicate something is dangerously hot, maybe because it just sounds more serious!

Julia said...

My email is juliaprague at yahoo by the way, and you have completely earned a postcard for your help!

Karla said...

What a great list! I'm sure you already know that kaše also means mashed potatoes. I suspect it means all sorts of mushy food.

Julia said...

Exactly, mush. But Caroline uses it to mean her morning cereal which is something surprisingly like cream of wheat.

Dana said...

Regarding heiss, hejs... I'm from Moravia and usually just need to open my mouth and say two words to give it away. Maybe this heiss is some new trendy thing that I'm missing. Although new trendy words come from English rather than German nowadays. I'm obviously due for a Moravian slang update from my teenage niece.

Julia said...

I bet hejs is a teenagery thing. Ask your niece about platfuss (sp?) too. It's a word I hear sometimes too which just seems funny in Czech!

Dana said...

Platfus has been around. Not a new word and not teenagery either.

Ellen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ellen said...

whether heiss is czech or not - at least it makes our in-laws think C is fluent in German ;)