Contest: Show your true linguist within! / Soutez: najdete v sobe lingvistu! - CzechmatediaryContest: Show your true linguist within! / Soutez: najdete v sobe lingvistu! - Czechmatediary
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Contest: Show your true linguist within! / Soutez: najdete v sobe lingvistu!

gift google imageFor years I have been having problems with a Czech translation of these English nuisance words:


I have gotten so run down by trying to figure out the Czech words for them that I just gave up and use the English words (evil, I know!).

So now I am officially announcing a CONTEST! Who comes up with the best Czech translations for them wins a surprise gift!

CZ: Kdo najde ten nejvystiznejsi preklad pro vyse uvedena anglicka slova, obdrzi darkove prekvapenicko!!!! Zatim jsem osobne vynalezla preklad pro ‘brownies’ – ‘hnedaky’. Ale jak vidite, nejak ten preklad nema smrnc.

If you liked this post buy me a coffee! (Suggested:$3 a latte $8 for a pound) Thanks!

26 comments… add one
  • Sue April 10, 2014, 5:31 am

    Not so hard-cupcake is dorticek, brownies is brownies with thick Czech accent, cookies- susenky, timeout see brownies, and playgroup is klub pro maminky and deti

  • Zdenek April 10, 2014, 5:33 am

    1. Co je spatneho na oficialnim preklad cupcake? (košíček)
    2. Brownies: Hnedky nezni moc dobre ale co cokoladove rezy?
    3. Cookies google preklada jako “susenky” ale to neni podle me dost vystizne. Cookies zni podle me dobre i v cestine. I don’t care what everybody thinks. 😉
    4. Timeout ma vice smyslu. Nejde pouzit jen jedno slovo: Prestavka, oddechovy cas, bez do kouta a kleknout na hrach ;)…
    5. Playgroup: kdysi ve skol(c)e jsme tomu rikali “skupina”

  • Dagmar April 10, 2014, 6:05 am

    Sue, best answer….”brownies” with a thick accent will just about cover everything…except “ketcup”, that stands alone, and “vikend” always maintain the pronunciation but with mandatory Czech spelling… remember that the Czech language adopted a bit of Russian here, some German there…nothing wrong with a few “Ch-english” words and charades to get the point across LOL

  • Melissa S. April 10, 2014, 7:55 am

    Well, you could just follow our example and borrow the English words! English has tons of words from other languages. We have no problem with borrowing/stealing them:)

  • Tanja April 10, 2014, 9:15 pm

    I know but I just feel so wrong doing that. I don’t like when other Czech do it, because they end up doing it a lot and then it just sounds dumb. Either you speak Czech or you speak English.

  • Tanja April 10, 2014, 9:16 pm

    Zdenku, ‘hnedky’ zni az moc podobne slovu ‘hnidy’ ;)) To uz bych je asi vickrat nevzala do pusy…teda ty Brownies

  • Tanja April 10, 2014, 9:17 pm

    Anyone else wants to chip in with their linguistic ideas?

  • Zdenek April 10, 2014, 9:22 pm

    Ja vim Tani. A nejen hnidy. V ostravstine ma hnedka jeste mnohem nechutnejsi vyznam 😉

  • Tanja April 10, 2014, 9:24 pm

    No fuj, to radsi ani nechci vedet.

  • James April 19, 2014, 11:19 am

    Isn’t “timeout” just “tajmaut”? It seems to me that in the 1990s I saw members of the Czech parliament start making the time-out symbol from American football when they wanted to speak.

    As for the baked goods, that’s interesting. Ages ago, when I was teaching at a Czech high school, the kids started spouting this nonsense they’d learned in elementary school that Czech has the largest vocabulary of any language in the world, which is demonstrably untrue. So, I wrote a bunch of words for things on the board, and they gave me their Czech words for them:

    pie > “koláč”
    doughnut > “koláč”
    bagel > “ňáký koláč”
    brownie > “koláč”

    The list went on and on, and the only answer to everything was “koláč”. I even had to make up my own Czech names for specific types of koláč, such as one that I used to call “chodská pizza”, because no one could tell me what it was specifically called.

    Other English words my students couldn’t come up with Czech terms for:

    swerve > “???”
    skidmarks > “čáry” (me: “I thought that meant lines! And what about the skidmarks in people’s underwear?)
    clownmobile > “???”
    pimpmobile > “???”
    wienermobile > “???”

  • James April 19, 2014, 11:20 am

    The only way I can translate “fudge” is “studentská čokoláda”, but that’s not quite right.

  • Zdenek April 19, 2014, 1:52 pm

    Not the brightest crayons in that class huh? 🙂

    Of course doughnut is not “koláč” but “kobliha, bagel and brownies do not exist in ČR so why is it surprising that they don’t have a word for it?
    Skidmarks =stopy (pneumatik, smyku, botl
    Swerve = vyhnout se
    Clownmobile and other “mobiles” well… *shrug* who gives a sh… Who cares.
    That what they said about czech vocabulary is of course absolute nonsense.

  • Dagmar April 19, 2014, 2:09 pm

    I agree, words/names for things that do not exist traditionally will often embrace the origin…hence weekend, or vikend…with an adapted spelling. Slang words are often borrowed from other influences as well…I remember a philosophical debate between my dad and his friend on the use of papuce vs fusakle LOL the latter which was quite foreign to us…but hey, we came from Brno and they’re from Prague so who knows. So…I’d go with “brauni” 🙂 beats rezy hands down…rezy are light and fluffy and filled with buttercream, no stand in for a brownie

  • James April 19, 2014, 3:29 pm

    A doughnut is not a kobliha, because a kobliha doesn’t have a hole in it. In Detroit what the Czechs call a kobliha is called a pączki. I know that’s plural, but we say one pączki and two pączki (pronounced “poonchkee”).

    “Stopy” doesn’t mean specifically skidmarks. It can mean “footprints” or even “scent”.

    “Vyhnout se” doesn’t mean specifically swerve. It can mean to avoid, to look aside, to evade or even to duck.

    As for those words ending in “-mobile”, obviously they’re important enough for the people in the culture that uses the words to want to distinguish between them. Czech makes needless distinctions between certain things also, like “těhotna” and “březí.”

    If you really want some fun, try to find a Czech word for “self-conscious”.

  • Zdenek April 19, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Donut doesn’t have to have a hole in the middle.
    You obviously didn’t have any Krispy Kreme or Dunkins for a while. 🙂
    And about the “*mobile” and a ddifferent culture.. Americans have one artificial word for them while Czechs have two. Whoopiedoo.
    English language has many words with different meaning depending how one uses them in the sentence. Even words with the same spelling but different pronunciation. I .. Lead.
    What are we actually arguing about? Whose language is more fucked up? Isn’t that a bit childish?
    Btw, self-conscience cannot be translated in one word without losing its exact meaning.

  • James April 19, 2014, 5:13 pm

    Tatjana, you may be interested to know that when I was a child here in the US there was no word for “timeout” in English either. People said they made the child sit in the corner. A child did not say he or she got a timeout, but said he or she had to sit in the corner. I’m not sure when people started calling it a timeout, but it must have been in the 1980s or later.

    In school and in sports, we also didn’t have a term for a “do-over”, probably because we didn’t get to do things over. On the very rare occasions when that was allowed for some reason, we called it a “replay”.

  • James April 19, 2014, 5:19 pm

    Zdenek, you don’t need to start using obscenities here just because we’re disagreeing.

    If you ask an American to draw a doughnut, he will draw something with a hole in it. Anything else is a variation on that. If you ask a Czech to draw a kobliha, he will draw a ball, and it will not have a hole in it. If you give an American a kobliha and ask him to tell someone later what it is, he won’t just say it’s a doughnut but will make a point of saying it has no hole in it. (Unless you’re in Michigan, in which case he’ll just say it’s the same thing as a pączki.) The archetypal image of “doughnut” is not the same as that of “kobliha”.

  • Zdenek April 19, 2014, 5:37 pm

    Funny thing is, that I don’t even know, what we are disagreeing about.
    I think we can agree, that languages are dynamic and they’re constantly developing and updating with new terms. Whether they’re original or “stolen” from elsewhere is irrelevant.
    I like English language a lot and I even think I can express myself in English better than in Czech. But that’s not because there is something wrong with Czech language. That’s just how my brain works.
    I also absolutely adore polish language. I think it’s more expressive than czech or even English. And funny as hell too.

  • Tanja April 19, 2014, 9:58 pm

    Jamie, that is very interesting about the “time-out” history. I did not know that.

    I think even the “do-over” term may be history ; isn’t it politically incorrect if there is an actual winner and a looser in a game? Aren’t we ALL winners?? 😉

  • James April 20, 2014, 5:02 am

    Tanja, I think you live in California, where everything has gone crazy. That deal where nobody wins and nobody loses a game seems to be an issue on the two coasts, as far as I can tell, but I assure you that in flyover country, where I live, sports still have winners and losers. The losers have to improve.

  • Tanja May 6, 2014, 9:53 pm

    Zdenku, send me your address via ‘contact’ I think you are the winner 🙂

  • Paulina May 29, 2014, 6:57 am

    Isn’t “self-conscious” translated “sebevedoma”?
    I also think doughnuts are definitely koblihy – just traditionally they are made with a hole here. Hence the saying “you have doughnuts” i.e. 0. Surely you have jam filled doughnuts in the USA- without a hole? Same dough. ;- )

  • James June 3, 2014, 9:29 pm

    No, Paulina. The Czech word “sebevědomý” does not mean “self-conscious”. If you take it apart, it looks like it means “self-conscious”, but “sebevědomý” really means “self-confident”.

    According to the VAČS, “self-confident” means “mající nepříjemný pocit být středem pozornosti”, which is an accurate equivalent, but too long to use.

    You’re self-confident (sebevědomý) if you’re sure you can achieve things. You’re self-conscious if you think everybody’s noticing the coffee you spilled on your shirt.

    When I visited the ČSSR and worked in the ČSFR and the ČR, there were no doughnuts with holes. The closest things they had were koblihy and a type of pastry I called “chodská pizza”. At that time, “kobliha” didn’t mean doughnut, but specifically a jelly-filled doughnut with no hole, what we call a pączki in Detroit (that’s both the singular and plural here). Probably since I left, Czechs have started selling American-style doughnuts with holes in them, and they have transferred the word “kobliha” to them. However, when I lived in the Czech lands for a few years after communism, there was no such thing as a standard American doughnut. No holes.

  • James June 3, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Sorry, Paulina, mistake. I should have said:

    According to the VAČS, “self-CONSCIOUS” means “mající nepříjemný pocit být středem pozornosti”, which is an accurate equivalent, but too long to use.

  • Paulina June 4, 2014, 6:21 am

    James, what about sebejista? Are you saying its the same thing as sebevedoma? Or does sebevedoma have two possible meanings?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Also with regards to koblihy and doughnuts – I feel that (at least here in OZ) doughnuts covers both – jam filed and O – and several other shapes. In Czech, yes you are right there never used to be holes in doughnuts (although we used to make a dimple if you like with a spoon before frying). An I agree the actual product does taste different. Ceska kobliha is vastly superior to a holy doughnut. 😉
    I feel very pathetic regarding my doughnut litany – but there it is.

  • Zdenek June 10, 2014, 12:56 pm

    James is exactly right (about self-conscious). That’s what I meant in my previous post. Cannot be translated in one word and James’s description is precise (mající nepříjemný pocit být středem pozornosti). For example teenagers are extremely self-concious because they always think someone is observing them/making fun of them/judging them/gossiping about them… Sebevedomy(a) je jednoznacne self-confident. Self-conscious is pretty much the exact opposite of self-confident. I know it doesn’t make sense when you take it apart and translate each part separately.

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