dominant language in prague?

Sep 8th, 2005, 06:05 AM
  #1  
jfm
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dominant language in prague?

can anyone provide their first hand observation of the dominant language spoken in prague? i am under the impression that czech, german, russian, and english are all spoken pretty widely there.

also, wondering about weather and crowds in mid april. good time to go?

thanks, jfm.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:09 AM
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The dominant language is Czech. Among younger people, you will find English is widely (if poorly) spoken because it is taught in the schools. Mid-April and onward would be OK, but don't be surprised if you need a lined raincoat on many days. Dress in layers and you will do fine.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:20 AM
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I toured Eastern Europe this past summer spending time in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Now I had been to both Poland and Hungary about 30 years ago and my biggest impression was how "westernized" Prague, Krakow, Budapest and Warsaw have become as opposed to the way they were then.

Along with this, back then, you were told English speakers would be very hard to find and that the predominant second languages in these countries would be German and Russian for obvious reasons.

Guess what....while believe me these cities are not like Amsterdam where almost everybody speaks English and many of the Scandanavian countries where many many people speak English, the 2nd language of these countries seems to have become English. Young people almost all study English in schools now. At the museums, signs are almost invariably both in the local language and in English. You don't see signs in German or Russian but you do in English.

Again this was just my observation; perhaps others have a different view on this.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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I've only been once and that was in 1999. All of the shop owners and some of the people that worked at the hotel spoke English, along with people in all the restaurants at which we ate. The difference being the taxi drivers which, in our case, spoke no English. I didn't find the launguage that much of an issue in the city, but just try reading the street signs!
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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In my visits to Prague, aside from the fact that Czech is obviously the local language of choice, I found that there is a large number of people who speak German, more so than any other language. The older folks will also speak Russian if they have to, but they dislike the Russians so much that they won't even speak the language any more--although they had to learn it during the Iron Curtain days.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Obviously Czech is the dominant language. Among the elderly quite a few speak some German. Most people coming in regular contact with tourists speak at least some English.

I'm sure many people over the age of 30 can speak at least some russian - but for obvious reasons don;t - not that they would have much reason to.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 08:27 AM
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I was surprised at how much of the signage was in English but not without misspellings which were sometimes amusing. In a nice hotel there was a sign in the elevator with instructions on what to do if the elevator "brakes" down. It was an amusing twist on the language.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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English will get you by very well, especially in Pargue itself...fingerpointing is always an adequate backup...having been therte several times..April weather can turn cold and rainy..
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Sep 8th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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We've visited Prague at Easter and though the weather could be fine, we had several days of rain. The Old Town Square has Easter markets, similar to the Christmas ones but with Easter Bunnies and painted eggs as decorations. Easter weekend itself will obviously be busier than the rest of April but we didn't find it too crowded.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 10:21 AM
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It's Czech because it's the Czech Republic. Obviously that is the dominant language, even though a lot of people in Prague speak some English, and certainly some speak more than others, and it depends where you go. Clerks or residents in off-the-beaten track areas do not speak a lot. I learned a little Czech as I am very interested in the country and culture (and have some Polish background) and have traveled there twice, and I put that to good use in Prague in some areas. But there's no problem getting by in the main center.

I think it is a very bad idea to go around speaking German in countries where it is not the native language and which were countries that Germany invaded and did a lot of damage to. They don't like Germans there, would you? Ditto for Netherlands which was in another post, people suggesting someone learn German to speak in Amsterdam instead of Dutch.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 11:57 AM
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>They don't like Germans there, would you?
Christna, I honestly do believe, that you don't know what you are talking about.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 12:38 PM
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rex
 
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German was an occasionally useful fall-back for me in 2003, due to my woefully inadequate efforts/results in attempting to learn some Czech (and I even took a year of Russian, 30+ years ago!). English is more likely helpful than German, but part of the time when English is failing you, then German could help.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:25 PM
  #13  
jfm
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thanks all, for the excellent feedback. it's been a great help in terms of language and calendar planning for a very probable trip to prague. best regards to each of you...jfm.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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A guide in Prague told me that, two generations ago, German was the widely-taught and spoken 2nd language.
One generation ago, it was Russian, which was mandatory in schools.
Currently, it is English (again, as the 2nd language)
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Sep 8th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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For what it's worth, during my trip through Central Europe in June both our tour director and all the local guides in Poland and the Czech Republic referred to those who committed the atrocities not as the Germans but the Nazis.

Now whether that means the average person living in Poland or the Czech Republic harbours no anti-German feelings is really not for me to say and of course during the so called Cold War the official government position was there were good Germans (DDR) and neo Fascist German (DBR)..again how much that is still believed is obviously something I am in no position to answer.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:23 PM
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I haven't been in Prague since 1983, but of course the dominant language is Czech - that didn't change because the name of the country did.

When I was there we spoke German constantly, because not many people spoke English and I didn't speak Czech but had studied German for many years.

Maybe that's changed. But I wouldn't assume it was some sort of horrible faux pas to speak German if that's the only common language you can find there. Obviously hordes of Czechs were taught German, even as a second language, maybe, and in some age groups you might find that German is spoken over English as a second language. That certainly was the case in 1983.

And I think it would be an unfair characterization to suggest that Czechs all hate speaking German because of events that transpired in WWII. It's possible there's just general widespread anti-German sentiment, but my guess is it's only among the generation who lived through the war and that if there's any anti- sentiment at all, it's anti-Nazi, not an all-out anger toward current-day Germans.

Anyway, I'm interested to read the responses here because I'd love to go back to Prague, I don't speak Czech, I'd love to use my German, and I hope not everybody speaks English now, because that would mean that Prague has changed incredibly since my last visit (and that would make me feel very old!).
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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While I hate generalizations, I must say that we found the vast majority of those we came into contact with in Prague to speak English -- and surprisingly well. On the other hand, we find fewer people can speak English so well in major German cities.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:45 PM
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StCirq...

That was indeed my point; it really has changed in Prague at least if not the rest of the Czech Republic. The most studied foreign language today is clearly English; I don't know if it is mandated the way Russian probably was during the Communist occupation.
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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:58 PM
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Hi, xyz (and thanks for all the cell phone info - I love my new all-world Nokia phone even though using it in the USA is frightfully expensive, but I've got another service for that).

I was afraid of that. I suspect English IS the second language taught in the Czech Republic today. Too bad if I go back - I love trying to ressurect my German. On the other hand, the friends I have in the Czech Republic are all in their 60s and 70s, so maybe my German would still be best for communicating with them.

My Russian is minimal - studied it for less than a year and didn't make much progress as it's a very rich and complicated language (got the alphabet down, though).

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Sep 8th, 2005, 08:08 PM
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St Cirq, I have often found in the Dolomites and the northern part of the region of Veneto that among the people in their 60's and older that do not speak English will ask if you speak German. And they ask in German They know some German for obvious reasons. I think most people that have any education about history can seperate their thoughts about people versus their government.

As I understood Italian growing up I also understood a lot of German. Unfortunatly as time went on I forgot most of what I knew.

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