Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Consonants and Communists

Prague has lots of both.
Japanese is impossible to read, but at least it is easy to pronounce. In Czech, they save up their vowels for the winter, as part of a government mandated Alphabetical and Cultural ReConservation Program. Of course, thanks to the Velvet Revolution (Fought by the snappiest soldiers since the Cashmere Sweater War) this program is no longer technically a law. However, in true Eastern European style, the Czech people cling to their old ways like sausage clings to your arteries. So there are diphthongs that no one can actually pronounce, not even native speakers. Often you see an older person who lived through WW2 trying to start a story with "When I was your age," but the combination of old person phlegm and consonants causes them to fall into a hacking coughing fit. The Czech translation for "When I was your age" is "KZSIRRHGK plkkjmiuvn wwssxxgt." Brian and I have been trying to say "Thank you" properly, which is "Dkyu", but Czech people just shake their heads in hatred.
It is hard to know how to say it because people say "Thank You" so infrequently.
In fact, the word for "Yes" is a two syllable word, making it twice as difficult to say as the word for "No." "Yes" used to be easy to say, but the Communist government issued a strict Positivity and Optimism Difficulty Edict that included provisions to make Borscht the National Soup and to make it more difficult for people to say, write, or think the word "yes."
On the plus side, the Water Slide Manifesto did wonders for the chlorine-seeking tourist industry.


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