How Slavs Greet Each Other


How Slavs Greet Each Other

January 21, 2018

Allan Stevo

Anton Bernolak was a Slovak linguist and Roman Catholic priest who passed away on January 15, 1813. He was the first codifier of the Slovak language and presented a codification that was later replaced by the codification of Ludovit Stur. This week, I present to you a series of posts from the archives of 52 Weeks in Slovakia on the topic of the Slovak language.

“Dobry den” was a term I knew from growing up in Chicago, or at least had been exposed to that phrase. The phrase was corrupted in my mind because of the many variations of it that I had been exposed to.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: cache.boston.com, mic.com

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Klobasa And Other Slavic Ways To Say Sausage

Klobasa And Other Slavic Ways To Say Sausage

January 20, 2018

Allan Stevo

The Slavs, the good people that they are, tend to feel a sort of affinity for each other when they are away from their homes and in places like the U.S. or Canada.

Language helps to form the way a person thinks, or maybe thinking helps to form language.  Whichever it is, the two are closely linked – thinking and language. If you bring your former Slovak student to the Western Open to work parking lot detail with you (as I did) you should not be surprised that after 2 weeks of being surrounded by Americans, he will, out of the 3,000 people he encounters that day, be drawn to the one guy that immigrated to Chicago from Poland 20 years earlier.

It’s hard to know exactly what grammar is, and I will not dedicate more time to arguing this issue, as many thousands of pages of debate have already been spent by linguists doing just that, but it’s likely to me that the two of them (the fresh off the boat Slovak and the well-acclimated Pole)  share the same “grammar.”

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: bratilicious.com

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Changing Languages Changes Your Personality

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Lingual Personality

January 19, 2018

Allan Stevo

Last night I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a few years. We spoke English with each other. After a while we switched into our other common language.

I was reminded that as you switch languages you switch personalities.

In English we struggled a bit for a topic to discuss. In Slovak it flowed smoothly. In English we spoke about more banal topics – at least for a while. In Slovak we jumped to central issues of identity.

In bilingual contexts, I’ve been told that some people don’t like my English language personality. Others don’t like my Slovak language personality. The awareness of these differing “lingual personalities” is something I seem unable to recognize, just as naturally as I am incapable of recognizing my own accent.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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The Great Vowel Shift

The Great Vowel Shift

January 18, 2018

Allan Stevo

There’s a section of 52 Weeks in Slovakia that is not as heavily trafficked as the meaty articles that appear on the front page, but which also provides some interesting insight to the culture.  It’s the Footnotes to Slovak Culture section.  It’s the place on the website that I’ve set aside to point out interesting tidbits of Slovak culture, which might not deserve a place of their own on the front page of the website, because they are more of a footnote as opposed to a lengthy essay in their own right.

Today, in the footnotes section, I posted a piece on the Great Vowel Shift – a phenomenon pointed out by researchers who have noticed that English vowels shifted some time in the past so that they sounded less like the vowels of continental Europe.  It’s an interesting concept for anyone who’s ever wondered why Slovak and English use different letters to represent the same vowel sounds.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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How To Write Slovak Emails – Ditch The Diacriticals

Diacritical Marks

January 17, 2018

Allan Stevo

Let’s say that you know about 15 phrases in Slovak and nothing else, so you decide to perfectly write one of those phrases to a friend. You want to ask a friend how he or she is doing, so you are going to need to use a soft S – š.  After lots of working trying to figure out how to put a soft S into your Yahoo! email account, you finally achieve that.  Your cleverly written Slovak email says “Ako sa maš ? ” you push SEND, ready to go on with the rest of your day after this exciting cultural exchange.  Across the Atlantic, minutes later, your friend opens that email from you excitedly and receives “ako sa ma%^09435##ejfpq275?”  Her response inevitably will be

1. To push reply and write  “Allan, your account got hacked and sent me this gobbledygook.”  When that email gets back to you, it again says “Ako sa maš ? ”  When it goes back her way, it is again gobbledygook.  That process can happen back and forth umpteen times – with one party having no idea that the other party is entirely unable to read a diacritical mark on his or her email account -OR-

2. Frustrated, she’ll just not read your email, because she has no idea what it is trying to say.  This second option is more common when a person sends multiple sentences using Slovak diacritical marks.>

Let’s face it, the world of software manufacturing seems to currently have better things to do than rack their brains with the question of “How can I get a program to properly display this character that one tenth of 1% of the world will ever need?” And I’m thinking that frugal Slovaks will come up with better ways around this problem than hiring software developers to develop and salesmen to convince the world how to properly display Slovak characters.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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How To Speak English With A Slovak

Below is a guest article written by Amy Wicks, Editor of 52 Weeks in Slovakia.  She’ll be online this week responding to questions and comments left below the article.  Thank you, Amy for a great article. – Allan

Confusing Words

January 16, 2018

Amy M. Wicks

Traveling in a foreign land is fun and exciting—new places to visit, new customs to discover, new foods to taste.  But as exciting as all these things are, one element of a foreign country that can prove a little more daunting is the language.  Matching the names written in “normal” letters to the street signs written in Cyrillic, getting on a bus whose destinations are written only in Arabic, or just trying to find a free room in a town where everyone speaks French and only French can all be intimidating.

Now add globalization to this mix and things change a bit. The forces of globalization, while they do usher in great change and advancement for many people in many places, are also gradually sucking the uniqueness from the world.  Little by little, various countries and cultures have forfeited pieces of themselves in favor of some other, more “worldly” element.  Coca-cola and Google are among the most recognized trademarks on the planet, one can travel across much of Europe without ever having to stop to exchange money or show a passport, Facebook now boasts over 750 million members worldwide, and English is slowly seeping into all corners of the globe.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Two Slovak Words That Do Not Translate Well

Zmrzlina & Šľahačka

January 15, 2018

Allan Stevo

Zmrzlina can be a hard to pronounce word for many new to the Slovak language.  This is partly because the first five letters are consonants. It is commonly translated into English as “ice cream,” but that translation can be misleading as it implies that the product is made from cream (a fattier liquid collected from whole milk), while in fact zmrzlina in Slovakia often doesn’t even contain milk, let alone cream.

The main ingredient is sometimes water, but more often vegetable fat (like margarine). The margarine-like vegetable fat is, in fact, the most common ingredient that I have noticed over years of inspecting zmrzlina labels in Slovakia.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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Vianočný Punč Recipe

Vianočný punč recipe

January 13, 2018

The punc recipe is the same as the varene vino recipe with the addition of one of each of these four items added at the end.

1. Rum
2. Pineapple juice, organge juice, apple juice, or some other sweet juice
3. Small berries, diced pieces of apples, pieces of oranges or some other fresh fruit diced small
4. Dried apricots, raisins, or any other dried fruit.

Another option is to simply place these 4 ingredients in the mug that the punc will be served in and then pouring the hot varene vino into that glass.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

Photo credit: ceskatelevize.cz

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