Po Slovensky

Language acquisition – a true adventure. Our greatest asset in language study – each other! Amber has a great ear and so her accent is much better. Our tutor constantly tells Amber she sounds “Slovak born” while she asks Matthew to repeat the pronunciation of Slovak’s soft consonants. Matthew however has a greater ability to remember words and so has a larger vocabulary. So when out and about, Matthew thinks of the words, but Amber says them! Here are some of our more interesting linguistic observations:

Sometimes we English speakers get confused as familiar letters make different sounds in Slovak:

English Letter – Slovak Pronunciation
I E
E – A (like “eh”)
C – TS
U – OOO (like in Google)
R – You have to roll the R
CH – CH counts as one letter and is pronounced like a very guttural H

Some words of interest:

Slovak Word – English Translation
smely – brave
holy – naked
sväty – holy (pronounced like “sveaty“)
fakť – the infinitive form of the verb “to look”, but when spoken it sounds a lot like an attention grabbing four letter word in English
svorka – pack of wolves
svokra – mother-in-law (Matthew has made a few GENUINE mistakes with these)

It has also been fun introducing ourselves to people. People are able to pronounce Matthew’s name because it has a Slovak translation – Matuš (pronounced “Matoosh“). It is also common to make someones name sound “more cute” once you are friends; so Matthew also gets “Matko” or “Mať ” (pronounced like “Match” but soft on the ending).

Amber’s name is a whole other story! Women’s names commonly end in the letter “a” in Slovak: Ludka, Edita, Evka, Katarina, Anna, Zuzka, Betka. You may have noticed that Amber does not. People often add the “a” to make it easier to say: “Ambera“. The direct translation of Amber’s name into Slovak is “Jantar“. We think it loses a little something in translation. Also, because we are so close to Hungary, we have learned that in Hungarian “amber” means “human being”. Nothing could be greater than walking up to someone and saying, “Hi, my name is Human Being”.

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