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Czech (; Czech ), historically also Bohemian (; ''lingua Bohemica'' in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
), is a
West Slavic language The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian. The languages are spoken across a continuous region encompassing the Czech Republic ...
of the Czech–Slovak group, written in
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seque ...

Latin script
. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...
. Czech is closely related to
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
, to the point of high
mutual intelligibility In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
, as well as to
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
to a lesser degree. Czech is a
fusional language Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express dif ...
with a rich system of
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines * Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts * Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies ...
and relatively flexible
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
. The Czech–Slovak group developed within West Slavic in the
high medieval The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period of European history that lasted from around AD 1000 to 1250. The High Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the la ...
period, and the standardization of Czech and Slovak within the Czech–Slovak dialect continuum emerged in the early modern period. In the later 18th to mid-19th century, the modern written standard became codified in the context of the
Czech National Revival The Czech National Revival was a cultural movement which took place in the Czech lands during the 18th and 19th centuries. The purpose of this movement was to revive the Czech Czech language, language, culture and national identity. The most pro ...
. The main non-standard variety, known as Common Czech, is based on the
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language A first language, native tongue, native langua ...
of
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people l ...

Prague
, but is now spoken as an interdialect throughout most of the Czech Republic. The
Moravian dialects Moravian dialects ( cs, moravská nářečí, moravština) are the variety (linguistics), varieties of Czech language, Czech spoken in Moravia, a historical region in the southeast of the Czech Republic. There are more forms of the Czech language u ...

Moravian dialects
spoken in the eastern part of the country are also classified as Czech, although some of their eastern variants are closer to Slovak. Czech has a moderately-sized phoneme inventory, comprising ten
monophthong A monophthong ( ; , ) is a pure vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in ...
s, three
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
s and 25 consonants (divided into "hard", "neutral" and "soft" categories). Words may contain complicated consonant clusters or lack vowels altogether. Czech has a raised alveolar trill, which is known to occur as a
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
in only a few other languages, represented by the
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...

grapheme
'' ř''. Czech uses a simple
orthography An orthography is a set of for a , including norms of , ation, , , , and . Most transnational languages in the modern period have a system of , and for most such languages a standard orthography has been developed, often based on a of the la ...
which have used as a model.


Classification

Czech is a member of the West Slavic sub-branch of the branch of the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of t ...
language family. This branch includes
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
, Kashubian, Upper and
Lower Sorbian Lower may refer to: *Lower (surname)Lower is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Arthur R. M. Lower (1889–1988) Canadian historian * Britt Lower (born 1985), American actress * Cyrus B. Lower (1843–1924), American Civil War ...
and
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
. Slovak is the most closely related language to Czech, followed by Polish and Silesian. The West Slavic languages are spoken in Central Europe. Czech is distinguished from other West Slavic languages by a more-restricted distinction between "hard" and "soft" consonants (see
Phonology Phonology is a branch of that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any particular language variety. At on ...
below).


History


Medieval/Old Czech

The term "Old Czech" is applied to the period predating the 16th century, with the earliest records of the high medieval period also classified as "early Old Czech", but the term "Medieval Czech" is also used. The function of the written language was initially performed by
Old Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic (, ) was the first Slavic languages, Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine Empire, Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with Standard language, standardizing the la ...
written in
Glagolitic The Glagolitic script (, ''glagolitsa''; Bulgarian and Macedonian: глаголица, romanized as ''glagolitsa'' and ''glagolica'' respectively; Croatian: ; Czech: ; Slovak: ''hlaholika'') is the oldest known Slavic alphabet An a ...

Glagolitic
, later by
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
written in
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seque ...

Latin script
. Around the 7th century, the Slavic expansion reached Central Europe, settling on the eastern fringes of the
Frankish Empire Francia, also called the Kingdom of the Franks ( la, Regnum Francorum), Frankish Kingdom, Frankland or Frankish Empire, was the largest post-Roman barbarian kingdom A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most popul ...

Frankish Empire
. The West Slavic polity of
Great Moravia Great Moravia ( la, Regnum Marahensium; el, Μεγάλη Μοραβία, ''Meghálī Moravía''; cz, Velká Morava ; sk, Veľká Morava ; pl, Wielkie Morawy), or simply Moravia, was the first major state that was predominantly West Slavs, West ...

Great Moravia
formed by the 9th century. The
Christianization of Bohemia ''The Baptism of Duke Bořivoj'', a historical painting by Václav Ignác Leopold Markovský The Christianization of Bohemia refers to the spread of the Christian religion in the lands of medieval Bohemia. As in many other countries, Christianity wa ...
took place during the 9th and 10th centuries. The diversification of the Czech-Slovak group within West Slavic began around that time, marked among other things by its use of the
voiced velar fricative The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound that is used in various spoken Spoken is the past participle form of "to speak". Spoken may also refer to: *Spoken (band), a Christian rock group from Arkansas *''Spoken (album)'', an a ...

voiced velar fricative
consonant (/ɣ/) and consistent stress on the first syllable. The Bohemian (Czech) language is first recorded in writing in glosses and short notes during the 12th to 13th centuries. Literary works written in Czech appear in the late 13th and early 14th century and administrative documents first appear towards the late 14th century. The first complete
Bible translation The Bible has been translation, translated into Bible translations by language, many languages from the biblical languages of Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic and Koine Greek, Greek. the full Bible has been translated into 7 ...
, the Leskovec-Dresden Bible, also dates to this period. Old Czech texts, including poetry and cookbooks, were also produced outside universities. Literary activity becomes widespread in the early 15th century in the context of the
Bohemian Reformation The Bohemian Reformation (also known as the Czech Reformation or Hussite Reformation), preceding the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, was a Christian movement in the late medieval and early modern Kingdom of Bohemia, Kingdom and Lands ...
.
Jan Hus Jan Hus (; ; – 6 July 1415), sometimes Anglicization, anglicized as John Hus or John Huss, and referred to in historical texts as ''Iohannes Hus'' or ''Johannes Huss'', was a Czechs, Czech Theology, theologian and philosopher who became a Chu ...

Jan Hus
contributed significantly to the standardization of Czech orthography, advocated for widespread literacy among Czech commoners (particularly in religion) and made early efforts to model written Czech after the spoken language.


Early Modern Czech

There was no standardization distinguishing between Czech and Slovak prior to the 15th century. In the 16th century, the division between Czech and Slovak becomes apparent, marking the confessional division between Lutheran Protestants in Slovakia using Czech orthography and Catholics, especially Slovak Jesuits, beginning to use a separate Slovak orthography based on Western Slovak dialects. The publication of the
Kralice Bible right The Bible of Kralice, also called the Kralice Bible ( cs, Bible kralická), was the first complete translation of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious ...
between 1579 and 1593 (the first complete Czech translation of the Bible from the original languages) became very important for standardization of the Czech language in the following centuries as it was used as a model for the standard language. In 1615, the Bohemian diet tried to declare Czech to be the only official language of the kingdom. After the
Bohemian Revolt The Bohemian Revolt (german: Böhmischer Aufstand; cs, České stavovské povstání; 1618–1620) was an uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty that began the Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' Wa ...
(of predominantly Protestant aristocracy) which was defeated by the
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...

Habsburg
s in 1620, the Protestant intellectuals had to leave the country. This emigration together with other consequences of the
Thirty Years' War The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought largely within the Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Imperium Romanum; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Europe, Western ...
had a negative impact on the further use of the Czech language. In 1627, Czech and German became official languages of the Kingdom of Bohemia and in the 18th century German became dominant in Bohemia and Moravia, especially among the upper classes.


Modern Czech

The modern standard Czech language originates in standardization efforts of the 18th century. By then the language had developed a literary tradition, and since then it has changed little; journals from that period have no substantial differences from modern standard Czech, and contemporary Czechs can understand them with little difficulty. Sometime before the 18th century, the Czech language abandoned a distinction between phonemic /l/ and /ʎ/ which survives in Slovak. With the beginning of the national revival of the mid-18th century, Czech historians began to emphasize their people's accomplishments from the 15th through the 17th centuries, rebelling against the
Counter-Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic Church, Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation, also known as the Protestant Revol ...
(the Habsburg re-catholization efforts which had denigrated Czech and other non-
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
languages). Czech
philologists Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
studied sixteenth-century texts, advocating the return of the language to
high culture High culture encompasses the culture, cultural objects of aesthetic value, which a society collectively esteem as exemplary art, and the Intellectualism, intellectual works of philosophy, history, art and literature that a society consider represen ...
. This period is known as the Czech National Revival (or Renaissance). During the national revival, in 1809 linguist and historian Josef Dobrovský released a German-language grammar of Old Czech entitled ''Ausführliches Lehrgebäude der böhmischen Sprache'' (''Comprehensive Doctrine of the Bohemian Language''). Dobrovský had intended his book to be
descriptive In the study of language, description or descriptive linguistics is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestu ...
, and did not think Czech had a realistic chance of returning as a major language. However,
Josef Jungmann Josef Jungmann (16 July 1773 in Hudlice, near Beroun Beroun (; german: Beraun) is a town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; ...
and other revivalists used Dobrovský's book to advocate for a Czech linguistic revival. Changes during this time included spelling reform (notably, ''í'' in place of the former ''j'' and ''j'' in place of ''g''), the use of ''t'' (rather than ''ti'') to end infinitive verbs and the non-capitalization of nouns (which had been a late borrowing from German). These changes differentiated Czech from Slovak. Modern scholars disagree about whether the conservative revivalists were motivated by nationalism or considered contemporary spoken Czech unsuitable for formal, widespread use. Adherence to historical patterns was later relaxed and standard Czech adopted a number of features from Common Czech (a widespread, informally used interdialectal variety), such as leaving some proper nouns undeclined. This has resulted in a relatively high level of homogeneity among all varieties of the language.


Geographic distribution

Czech is spoken by about 10 million residents of the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...
. A
Eurobarometer Eurobarometer is a series of public opinion Public opinion is the collective opinion of the people of a society on a specific topic or voting intention. Democracy requires public opinion because it derives authority from the public. Etymolog ...
survey conducted from January to March 2012 found that the
first language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1) is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', mean ...
of 98 percent of Czech citizens was Czech, the third-highest proportion of a population in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(behind
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2021; Athens is its largest and capital city, followed ...

Greece
and
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a in . Spanning of the , it is bordered by to the north, to the northeast, to the east and southeast, to the south, and to the southwest and to the west. Hungary has a population of 10 million, mostl ...

Hungary
). As the official language of the Czech Republic (a member of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
since 2004), Czech is one of the EU's official languages and the 2012 Eurobarometer survey found that Czech was the foreign language most often used in Slovakia. Economist Jonathan van Parys collected data on language knowledge in Europe for the 2012
European Day of Languages The European Day of Languages is observed 26 September, as proclaimed by the Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE) (french: Conseil de l'Europe, CdE) is an international organization, international organisation founded in the wake of W ...
. The five countries with the greatest use of Czech were the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...
(98.77 percent),
Slovakia Slovakia (; sk, Slovensko ), officially the Slovak Republic ( sk, Slovenská republika, links=no ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east, Hungary to the south, Austria to th ...

Slovakia
(24.86 percent),
Portugal Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=yes ), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who ...

Portugal
(1.93 percent),
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
(0.98 percent) and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the and by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the , according to population within city l ...

Germany
(0.47 percent). Czech speakers in Slovakia primarily live in cities. Since it is a recognized
minority language A minority language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an apparent answer to the painful divisions between sel ...
in Slovakia, Slovak citizens who speak only Czech may communicate with the government in their language to the extent that Slovak speakers in the Czech Republic may do so.


United States

Immigration of Czechs from Europe to the United States occurred primarily from 1848 to 1914. Czech is a Less Commonly Taught Language in U.S. schools, and is taught at Czech heritage centers. Large communities of
Czech American Czech Americans ( cz, Čechoameričané), known in the 19th and early 20th century as Bohemian Americans, are citizens of the United States who are of Czech descent. Czechs originate from the Czech lands The Czech lands or the Bohemian lands ( ...
s live in the states of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambigu ...

Texas
,
Nebraska Nebraska () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Nebraska
and
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Wisconsin
. In the
2000 United States Census The United States census of 2000, conducted by the Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about ...
, Czech was reported as the commonest language spoken at home (besides
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
) in
Valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land surface by rivers or streams over ...
,
Butler A butler is a person who works in a house serving and is a domestic worker A domestic worker is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional E ...
and Saunders
Counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
, Nebraska and
Republic County, Kansas on the border of Jewell County, Kansas and Republic County, Kansas near Hardy, Nebraska and Webber, Kansas, just south of Nebraska NE-8 on Kansas 1 Rd/CR-1 bridge over the Republican River. The normal flood stage for the river is at the tree line ...
. With the exception of
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
(the non-English language most commonly spoken at home nationwide), Czech was the commonest home language in more than a dozen additional counties in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas,
North Dakota North Dakota () is a U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its with the . Due to th ...
and
Minnesota Minnesota () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Minnesota
. As of 2009, 70,500 Americans spoke Czech as their first language (49th place nationwide, after
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), offi ...

Turkish
and before
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: * Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland * Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by the Swedish langua ...
).


Phonology


Vowels

A Czech vowel chart Standard Czech contains ten basic
vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

vowel
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, and three diphthongs. The vowels are , and their long counterparts . The diphthongs are ; the last two are found only in loanwords such as "car" and "euro". In Czech orthography, the vowels are spelled as follows: *Short: *Long: *Diphthongs: The letter indicates that the previous consonant is palatalised (e.g. ). After a labial it represents (e.g. ); but is pronounced /mɲɛ/, cf. ().


Consonants

The consonant phonemes of Czech and their equivalent letters in Czech orthography are as follows: Czech consonants are categorized as "hard", "neutral", or "soft": *Hard: *Neutral: *Soft: Hard consonants may not be followed by ''i'' or ''í'' in writing, or soft ones by ''y'' or ''ý'' (except in loanwords such as ''
kilogram The kilogram (also kilogramme) is the base unit of mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of " ...
''). Neutral consonants may take either character. Hard consonants are sometimes known as "strong", and soft ones as "weak". This distinction is also relevant to the
declension In linguistics, declension is the changing of the form of a word, generally to express its syntactic function in the sentence, by way of some inflection. The inflectional change of verbs is called Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. Declensions ...
patterns of nouns, which vary according to whether the final consonant of the noun stem is hard or soft.
Voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study th ...
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s with unvoiced counterparts are unvoiced at the end of a word before a pause, and in
consonant cluster In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
s
voicing assimilation In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound system of any particular language variety. At one ...
occurs, which matches voicing to the following consonant. The unvoiced counterpart of /ɦ/ is /x/. The phoneme represented by the letter '' ř'' (capital ''Ř'') is very rare and often claimed to be unique to Czech, though it also occurs in some dialects of Kashubian, and formerly occurred in Polish. It represents the
raised alveolar non-sonorant trill The voiced alveolar trill is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents dental consonant, dental, alveolar consonant, alveolar, and postalveolar consonant, postalve ...
(
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
: ), a sound somewhere between Czech ''r'' and ''ž'' (example: ), and is present in '' Dvořák''. In unvoiced environments, /r̝/ is realized as its voiceless allophone ̝̊ a sound somewhere between Czech ''r'' and ''š''. The consonants can be
syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables *Abugida, writing system us ...
, acting as syllable nuclei in place of a vowel. '' Strč prst skrz krk'' ("Stick
our Our or OUR may refer to: * The possessive form of "" * , in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany * , a village in Belgium * , a commune in France * , a government utility regulator in Jamaica * , a non-profit organization that helps rescue victims * ...

our
finger through
our Our or OUR may refer to: * The possessive form of "" * , in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany * , a village in Belgium * , a commune in France * , a government utility regulator in Jamaica * , a non-profit organization that helps rescue victims * ...

our
throat") is a well-known Czech
tongue twister A tongue-twister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to Articulate sound, articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken (or sung) word game. Additionally, they can be used as exercises to improve pronunciation and fluency. Some t ...

tongue twister
using only syllabic consonants.


Stress

Each word has primary stress on its first
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
, except for
enclitic In morphology and syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentences (sentence structure) in a given Natural language, language, usually including word ...
s (minor, monosyllabic, unstressed syllables). In all words of more than two syllables, every odd-numbered syllable receives secondary stress. Stress is unrelated to vowel length; both long and short vowels can be stressed or unstressed. Vowels are never reduced in tone (e.g. to
schwa In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as t ...
sounds) when unstressed. When a noun is preceded by a monosyllabic preposition, the stress usually moves to the preposition, e.g. "to Prague".


Grammar

Czech grammar, like that of other Slavic languages, is fusional; its nouns, verbs, and adjectives are inflected by phonological processes to modify their meanings and grammatical functions, and the easily separable
affix In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the met ...
es characteristic of
agglutinative The middle sign is in Hungarian, which agglutinates extensively. (The top and bottom signs are in Romanian and German, respectively, both inflecting languages.) The English translation is "Ministry of Food and Agriculture: Satu Mare County D ...
languages are limited. Czech inflects for case, gender and number in nouns and tense, aspect, mood, person and subject number and gender in verbs. Parts of speech include adjectives,
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that modifies a verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being ...

adverb
s, numbers,
interrogative word An interrogative word or question word is a function word used to ask a question, such as ''what, which'', ''when'', ''where'', ''who (pronoun), who, whom, whose'', ''why'', ''whether'' and ''how''. They are sometimes called wh-words, because in ...
s,
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
s,
conjunction Conjunction may refer to: * Conjunction (astronomy), in which two astronomical bodies appear close together in the sky * Conjunction (astrology), astrological aspect in horoscopic astrology * Conjunction (grammar), a part of speech * Logical conjun ...
s and
interjection An interjection is a word or expression that occurs as an utterance on its own and expresses a spontaneous feeling or reaction. It is a diverse category, encompassing many different parts of speech, such as exclamations ''(ouch!'', ''wow!''), curses ...
s. Adverbs are primarily formed from adjectives by taking the final ''ý'' or ''í'' of the base form and replacing it with ''e'', ''ě'', ''y'', or ''o''. Negative statements are formed by adding the affix '''' to the main verb of a clause, with one exception: ''je'' (he, she or it is) becomes ''není''.


Sentence and clause structure

Because Czech uses
grammatical case Grammatical case is a term regarding a manner of categorizing s, s, s, s, and s according to their traditionally corresponding s within a given , , or . In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, s, participles, prepositions, numerals, art ...
to convey word function in a sentence (instead of relying on
word order In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...
, as English does), its word order is flexible. As a
pro-drop language A pro-drop language (from "pronoun-dropping") is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a ...
, in Czech an
intransitive In grammar In linguistics, the grammar (from Ancient Greek ''grammatikḗ'') of a natural language is its set of structure, structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clause (linguistics), clauses, phrases, and words. Th ...
sentence can consist of only a verb; information about its subject is encoded in the verb. Enclitics (primarily
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; ...
s and pronouns) appear in the second syntactic slot of a sentence, after the first stressed unit. The first slot can contain a subject or object, a main form of a verb, an adverb, or a conjunction (except for the light conjunctions ''a'', "and", ''i'', "and even" or ''ale'', "but"). Czech syntax has a
subject–verb–object In linguistic typology Linguistic typology (or language typology) is a field of linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...
sentence structure. In practice, however, word order is flexible and used to distinguish topic and focus, with the topic or theme (known referents) preceding the focus or rheme (new information) in a sentence; Czech has therefore been described as a topic-prominent language. Although Czech has a
periphrastic In linguistics, periphrasis () is the usage of multiple separate words to carry the meaning of prefixes, suffixes or verbs, among other things, where either would be possible. It is a device where grammatical meaning is expressed by one or more f ...
passive Passive may refer to: * Passive voice, a grammatical voice common in many languages, see also Pseudopassive (disambiguation), Pseudopassive * Passive language, a language from which an interpreter works * Passivity (behavior), the condition of sub ...

passive
construction (like English), in colloquial style, word-order changes frequently replace the passive voice. For example, to change "Peter killed Paul" to "Paul was killed by Peter" the order of subject and object is inverted: ''Petr zabil Pavla'' ("Peter killed Paul") becomes "Paul, Peter killed" (''Pavla zabil Petr''). ''Pavla'' is in the
accusative case The accusative case (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phras ...
, the grammatical object of the verb. A word at the end of a clause is typically emphasized, unless an upward intonation indicates that the sentence is a question: *''Pes jí bagetu.'' – The dog eats the baguette (rather than eating something else). *''Bagetu jí pes.'' – The dog eats the baguette (rather than someone else doing so). *''Pes bagetu jí.'' – The dog eats the baguette (rather than doing something else to it). *''Jí pes bagetu?'' – Does the dog eat the baguette? (emphasis ambiguous) In parts of
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...

Bohemia
(including
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people l ...

Prague
), questions such as ''Jí pes bagetu?'' without an interrogative word (such as ''co'', "what" or ''kdo'', "who") are intoned in a slow rise from low to high, quickly dropping to low on the last word or phrase. In modern Czech syntax, adjectives precede nouns, with few exceptions.
Relative clause A relative clause is typically a clause that modifies a noun A noun () is a word that functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns ...
s are introduced by
relativizerIn linguistics, a relativizer (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a type of Conjunction (grammar), conjunction that introduces a relative clause. For example, in English, the conjunction ''that'' may be considered a relativizer in a s ...
s such as the adjective ''který'', analogous to the English
relative pronoun A relative pronoun is a pronoun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lan ...
s "which", "that" and "who"/"whom". As with other adjectives, it agrees with its associated noun in gender, number and case. Relative clauses follow the noun they modify. The following is a glossed example:


Declension

In Czech, nouns and adjectives are declined into one of seven
grammatical case Grammatical case is a term regarding a manner of categorizing s, s, s, s, and s according to their traditionally corresponding s within a given , , or . In some languages, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, s, participles, prepositions, numerals, art ...
s which indicate their function in a sentence, two
numbers A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual language of mathematics, an ''object'' is anything that has been (or could be) formally defined, and with which one may do deduc ...
(singular and plural) and three
genders Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
(masculine, feminine and neuter). The masculine gender is further divided into animate and inanimate classes.


Case

A nominative–accusative language, Czech marks subject nouns of transitive and intransitive verbs in the nominative case, which is the form found in dictionaries, and
direct object In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the me ...
s of transitive verbs are declined in the accusative case. The vocative case is used to address people. The remaining cases (genitive, dative, locative and instrumental) indicate semantic relationships, such as
noun adjunct A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
s (genitive),
indirect object In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...
s (dative), or agents in passive constructions (instrumental). Additionally
preposition Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a used to express spatial or temporal relations (''in'', ''under'', ''towards'', ''before'') or mark various (''of'', ''for''). A pre ...
s and some verbs require their complements to be declined in a certain case. The locative case is only used after prepositions. An adjective's case agrees with that of the noun it modifies. When Czech children learn their language's declension patterns, the cases are referred to by number: Some Czech grammatical texts order the cases differently, grouping the nominative and accusative (and the dative and locative) together because those declension patterns are often identical; this order accommodates learners with experience in other inflected languages, such as Latin or
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
. This order is nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative, instrumental and vocative. Some prepositions require the nouns they modify to take a particular case. The cases assigned by each preposition are based on the physical (or metaphorical) direction, or location, conveyed by it. For example, '' od'' (from, away from) and ''wikt:z#Czech, z'' (out of, off) assign the genitive case. Other prepositions take one of several cases, with their meaning dependent on the case; ''wikt:na#Czech, na'' means "onto" or "for" with the accusative case, but "on" with the locative. This is a glossed example of a sentence using several cases:


Gender

Czech distinguishes three
genders Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
—masculine, feminine, and neuter—and the masculine gender is subdivided into animacy, animate and inanimate. With few exceptions, feminine nouns in the nominative case end in ''-a'', ''-e'', or a consonant; neuter nouns in ''-o'', ''-e'', or ''-í'', and masculine nouns in a consonant. Adjectives, participles, most pronouns, and the numbers "one" and "two" are marked for gender and agree with the gender of the noun they modify or refer to. Past tense verbs are also marked for gender, agreeing with the gender of the subject, e.g. ''dělal'' (he did, or made); ''dělala'' (she did, or made) and ''dělalo'' (it did, or made). Gender also plays a semantic role; most nouns that describe people and animals, including personal names, have separate masculine and feminine forms which are normally formed by adding a suffix to the stem, for example ''Čech'' (Czech man) has the feminine form ''Češka'' (Czech woman). Nouns of different genders follow different declension patterns. Examples of declension patterns for noun phrases of various genders follow:


Number

Nouns are also inflected for grammatical number, number, distinguishing between singular and plural. Typical of a Slavic language, Czech cardinal numbers one through four allow the nouns and adjectives they modify to take any case, but numbers over five require subject and direct object noun phrases to be declined in the genitive plural instead of the nominative or accusative, and when used as subjects these phrases take singular verbs. For example: Numbers decline for case, and the numbers one and two are also inflected for gender. Numbers one through five are shown below as examples. The number one has declension patterns identical to those of the demonstrative pronoun ''wikt:ten#Czech, ten''. Although Czech's grammatical numbers are singular and plural, several residuals of dual (grammatical number), dual forms remain, such as the words ''dva'' ("two") and ''oba'' ("both"), which decline the same way. Some nouns for paired body parts use a historical dual form to express plural in some cases: ''wikt:ruka, ruka'' (hand)—''ruce'' (nominative); ''wikt:noha, noha'' (leg)—''nohama'' (instrumental), ''nohou'' (genitive/locative); ''wikt:oko, oko'' (eye)—''oči'', and ''wikt:ucho, ucho'' (ear)—''uši''. While two of these nouns are neuter in their singular forms, all plural forms are considered feminine; their gender is relevant to their associated adjectives and verbs. These forms are plural semantically, used for any non-singular count, as in ''mezi čtyřma očima'' (face to face, lit. ''among four eyes''). The plural number paradigms of these nouns are a mixture of historical dual and plural forms. For example, ''nohy'' (legs; nominative/accusative) is a standard plural form of this type of noun.


Verb conjugation

Czech verbs agree with their subjects in grammatical person, person (first, second or third), grammatical number, number (singular or plural), and in constructions involving participles, which includes the past tense, also in grammatical gender, gender. They are conjugated for tense (past, present or future tense, future) and mood (indicative, imperative mood, imperative or conditional mood, conditional). For example, the conjugated verb ''wikt:mluvit, mluvíme'' (we speak) is in the present tense and first-person plural; it is distinguished from other conjugations of the infinitive ''mluvit'' by its ending, ''-íme''. The infinitive form of Czech verbs ends in ''-t'' (archaically, ''-ti''). It is the form found in dictionaries and the form that follows auxiliary verbs (for example, ''můžu tě slyšet''—"I can ''hear'' you").


Aspect

Typical of Slavic languages, Czech marks its verbs for one of two grammatical aspects: perfective aspect, perfective and imperfective aspect, imperfective. Most verbs are part of inflected aspect pairs—for example, ''wikt:koupit, koupit'' (perfective) and ''wikt:kupovat, kupovat'' (imperfective). Although the verbs' meaning is similar, in perfective verbs the action is completed and in imperfective verbs it is ongoing or repeated. This is distinct from past tense, past and present tense. Any verb of either aspect can be conjugated into either the past or present tense, but the future tense is only used with imperfective verbs. Aspect describes the state of the action at the time specified by the tense. The verbs of most aspect pairs differ in one of two ways: by prefix or by suffix. In prefix pairs, the perfective verb has an added prefix—for example, the imperfective ''psát'' (to write, to be writing) compared with the perfective ''napsat'' (to write down). The most common prefixes are ''na-'', ''o-'', ''po-'', ''s-'', ''u-'', ''vy-'', ''z-'' and ''za-''. In suffix pairs, a different infinitive ending is added to the perfective stem; for example, the perfective verbs ''koupit'' (to buy) and ''prodat'' (to sell) have the imperfective forms ''kupovat'' and ''prodávat''. Imperfective verbs may undergo further morphology to make other imperfective verbs (iterative and frequentative forms), denoting repeated or regular action. The verb ''jít'' (to go) has the iterative form ''chodit'' (to go regularly) and the frequentative form ''chodívat'' (to go occasionally; to tend to go). Many verbs have only one aspect, and verbs describing continual states of being—''wikt:být, být'' (to be), ''wikt:chtít, chtít'' (to want), ''wikt:moct, moct'' (to be able to), ''wikt:ležet, ležet'' (to lie down, to be lying down)—have no perfective form. Conversely, verbs describing immediate states of change—for example, ''wikt:otěhotnět, otěhotnět'' (to become pregnant) and ''wikt:nadchnout se, nadchnout se'' (to become enthusiastic)—have no imperfective aspect.


Tense

The present tense in Czech is formed by adding an ending which agrees with the person and number of the subject at the end of the verb stem. As Czech is a null-subject language, the subject pronoun can be omitted unless it is needed for clarity. The past tense is formed using a participle which ends in ''-l'' and a further ending which agrees with the gender and number of the subject. For the first and second persons, the auxiliary verb ''být'' conjugated in the present tense is added. In some contexts, the present tense of perfective verbs (which differs from the English present perfect) implies future action; in others, it connotes habitual action. The perfective present is used to refer to completion of actions in the future and is distinguished from the imperfective future tense, which refers to actions that will be ongoing in the future. The future tense is regularly formed using the future conjugation of ''být'' (as shown in the table on the left) and the infinitive of an imperfective verb, for example, ''budu jíst''—"I will eat" or "I will be eating". Where ''budu'' has a noun or adjective complement it means "I will be", for example, ''budu šťastný'' (I will be happy). Some verbs of movement form their future tense by adding the prefix ''po-'' to the present tense forms instead, e.g. ''jedu'' ("I go") > ''pojedu'' ("I will go").


Mood

Czech verbs have three grammatical moods: indicative, imperative mood, imperative and conditional mood, conditional. The imperative mood is formed by adding specific endings for each of three person–number categories: ''-Ø/-i/-ej'' for second-person singular, ''-te/-ete/-ejte'' for second-person plural and ''-me/-eme/-ejme'' for first-person plural. Imperatives are usually expressed using perfective verbs if positive and imperfective verbs if negative. The conditional mood is formed with a conditional
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full version of the word or phrase; ...
after the participle ending in -l which is used to form the past tense. This mood indicates hypothetical events and can also be used to express wishes.


Verb classes

Most Czech verbs fall into one of five morphological classification of Czech verbs, classes, which determine their conjugation patterns. The future tense of ''být'' would be classified as a Class I verb because of its endings. Examples of the present tense of each class and some common irregular verbs follow in the tables below:


Orthography

Czech has one of the most Phonemic orthography, phonemic orthographies of all European languages. Its alphabet contains 42
grapheme In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...

grapheme
s, most of which correspond to individual
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s, and only contains only one digraph (orthography), digraph: ''ch'', which follows ''h'' in the alphabet. The characters ''q'', ''w'' and ''x'' appear only in foreign words. The háček (ˇ) is used with certain letters to form new characters: ''š'', ''ž'', and ''č'', as well as ''ň'', ''ě'', '' ř'', ''ť'', and ''ď'' (the latter five uncommon outside Czech). The last two letters are sometimes written with a comma above (ʼ, an abbreviated háček) because of their height. Czech orthography has influenced the orthographies of other Balto-Slavic languages and some of its characters have been adopted for transliteration of Cyrillic. Czech orthography neatly reflects vowel length; long vowels are indicated by an acute accent or, occasionally with ''ů'', a ring (diacritic), ring. Long ''u'' is usually written ''ú'' at the beginning of a word or morpheme (''úroda'', ''neúrodný'') and ''ů'' elsewhere, except for loanwords (''skútr'') or onomatopoeia (''bú''). Long vowels and ''ě'' are not considered separate letters in the alphabetical order. The character ''ó'' exists only in loanwords and onomatopoeia. Czech typography, typographical features not associated with phonetics generally resemble those of most European languages that use the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seque ...

Latin script
, including English. Proper nouns, honorifics, and the first letters of quotations are capitalization, capitalized, and punctuation is typical of other Latin European languages. Ordinal numbers (1st) use a point, as in German (1.). The Czech language uses a decimal comma instead of a decimal point. When writing a long number, spaces between every three digits, including those in decimal places, may be used for better orientation in handwritten texts. The number 1,234,567.89101 may be written as 1234567,89101 or 1 234 567,891 01. In proper noun phrases (except personal and settlement names), only the first word is capitalized (''Pražský hrad'', Prague Castle) (proper nouns inside such phrases are also capitalized).


Varieties

The modern literary standard and prestige variety, known as "Standard Czech" () is based on the standardization during the
Czech National Revival The Czech National Revival was a cultural movement which took place in the Czech lands during the 18th and 19th centuries. The purpose of this movement was to revive the Czech Czech language, language, culture and national identity. The most pro ...
in the 1830s, significantly influenced by
Josef Jungmann Josef Jungmann (16 July 1773 in Hudlice, near Beroun Beroun (; german: Beraun) is a town in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; ...
's Czech–German dictionary published during 1834–1839. Jungmann used vocabulary of the Bible of Kralice (1579–1613) period and of the language used by his contemporaries. He borrowed words not present in Czech from other Slavic languages or created neologisms. Standard Czech is the formal register of the language which is used in official documents, formal literature, newspaper articles, education and occasionally public speeches. It is codified by the Czech Language Institute, who publish occasional reforms to the codification. The most recent reform took place in 1993. The term (lit. "Colloquial Czech") is sometimes used to refer to the spoken variety of standard Czech. The most widely spoken vernacular form of the language is called "Common Czech" (), an interdialect influenced by spoken Standard Czech and the Central Bohemian dialects of the
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people l ...

Prague
region. Other Bohemian regional dialects have become marginalized, while
Moravian dialects Moravian dialects ( cs, moravská nářečí, moravština) are the variety (linguistics), varieties of Czech language, Czech spoken in Moravia, a historical region in the southeast of the Czech Republic. There are more forms of the Czech language u ...

Moravian dialects
remain more widespread and diverse, with a political movement for Moravian linguistic revival active since the 1990s. These varieties of the language (Standard Czech, spoken/colloquial Standard Czech, Common Czech, and regional dialects) form a Style (sociolinguistics), stylistic continuum, in which contact between varieties of a similar prestige influences change within them.


Common Czech

The main Czech vernacular, spoken primarily in
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...

Bohemia
including the capital
Prague Prague ( ; cs, Praha ; german: Prag, ; la, Praga) is the capital and largest city A city is a large human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people l ...

Prague
, is known as Common Czech (''obecná čeština''). This is an academic distinction; most Czechs are unaware of the term or associate it with deformed or "incorrect" Czech. Compared to Standard Czech, Common Czech is characterized by simpler inflection patterns and differences in sound distribution. Common Czech is distinguished from spoken/colloquial Standard Czech (), which is a style (sociolinguistics), stylistic variety within standard Czech. Tomasz Kamusella defines the spoken variety of Standard Czech as a compromise between Common Czech and the written standard, while Miroslav Komárek calls Common Czech an intersection of spoken Standard Czech and regional dialects. Common Czech has become ubiquitous in most parts of the Czech Republic since the later 20th century. It is usually defined as an interdialect used in common speech in
Bohemia Bohemia ( ; cs, Čechy ; ; hsb, Čěska; szl, Czechy) is the westernmost and largest historical region Historical regions (or historical areas) are geographical Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, ...

Bohemia
and western parts of Moravia (by about two thirds of all inhabitants of the
Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It i ...
). Common Czech is not codification (linguistics), codified, but some of its elements have become adopted in the written standard. Since the second half of the 20th century, Common Czech elements have also been spreading to regions previously unaffected, as a consequence of media influence. Standard Czech is still the norm for politicians, businesspeople and other Czechs in formal situations, but Common Czech is gaining ground in journalism and the mass media. The colloquial form of Standard Czech finds limited use in daily communication due to the expansion of the Common Czech interdialect. It is sometimes defined as a theoretical construct rather than an actual tool of colloquial communication, since in casual contexts, the non-standard interdialect is preferred. Common Czech phonology is based on that of the Central Bohemian dialect group, which has a slightly different set of vowel phonemes to Standard Czech. The phoneme /ɛː/ is peripheral and usually merges with /iː/, e.g. in ''malý město'' (small town), ''plamínek'' (little flame) and ''lítat'' (to fly), and a second native diphthong /ɛɪ̯/ occurs, usually in places where Standard Czech has /iː/, e.g. ''malej dům'' (small house), ''mlejn'' (mill), ''plejtvat'' (to waste), ''bejt'' (to be). In addition, a prothetic ''v-'' is added to most words beginning ''o-'', such as ''votevřít vokno'' (to open the window). Non-standard Morphology (linguistics), morphological features that are more or less common among all Common Czech speakers include: * unified plural Ending (linguistics), endings of adjectives: ''malý lidi'' (small people), ''malý ženy'' (small women), ''malý města'' (small towns) – standard: ''malí lidé, malé ženy, malá města;'' * unified instrumental case, instrumental Ending (linguistics), ending ''-ma'' in plural: ''s těma dobrejma lidma, ženama, chlapama, městama'' (with the good people, women, guys, towns) – standard: ''s těmi dobrými lidmi, ženami, chlapy, městy.'' In essence, this form resembles the form of the Dual (grammatical number), dual, which was once a productive form, but now is almost extinct and retained in a lexically specific set of words. In Common Czech the ending became productive again around the 17th century, but used as a substitute for a regular plural form. * omission of the syllabic ''-l'' in the masculine ending of past tense verbs: ''řek'' (he said), ''moh'' (he could), ''pích'' (he pricked) – standard: ''řekl, mohl, píchl.'' * tendency of merging the locative singular masculine/neuter for adjectives with the instrumental by changing the locative ending ''-ém'' to ''-ým'' and then shortening the vowel: ''mladém'' (standard locative), ''mladým'' (standard instrumental) > ''mladým'' (Common Czech locative), ''mladym'' (Common Czech instrumental) > ''mladym'' (Common Czech locative/instrumental with shortening). Examples of declension (Standard Czech is added in italics for comparison): ''mladý člověk – young man/person, mladí lidé – young people, mladý stát – young state, mladá žena – young woman, mladé zvíře – young animal''


Bohemian dialects

Apart from the Common Czech vernacular, there remain a variety of other Bohemian dialects, mostly in marginal rural areas. Dialect use began to weaken in the second half of the 20th century, and by the early 1990s regional dialect use was stigmatized, associated with the shrinking lower class and used in literature or other media for comedic effect. Increased travel and media availability to dialect-speaking populations has encouraged them to shift to (or add to their own dialect) Standard Czech. The Czech Statistical Office in 2003 recognized the following Bohemian dialects: *''Nářečí středočeská'' (Central Bohemian dialects) *''Nářečí jihozápadočeská'' (Southwestern Bohemian dialects) :*''Podskupina chodská'' (Chod dialect, Chod subgroup) :*''Podskupina doudlebská'' (Doudleby subgroup) *''Nářečí severovýchodočeská'' (Northeastern Bohemian dialects) :*''Podskupina podkrknošská'' (Krkonoše subgroup)


Moravian dialects

The Czech dialects spoken in Moravia and Silesia are known as Moravian dialects, Moravian (''moravština''). In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, "Bohemian-Moravian-Slovak" was a language citizens could register as speaking (with German, Polish and several others). In the 2011 census, where respondents could optionally specify up to two first languages, 62,908 Czech citizens specified Moravian as their first language and 45,561 specified both Moravian and Czech. Beginning in the sixteenth century, some varieties of Czech resembled Slovak; the southeastern Moravian dialects, in particular, are sometimes considered dialects of Slovak rather than Czech. These dialects form a continuum between the Czech and Slovak languages, using the same declension patterns for nouns and pronouns and the same verb conjugations as Slovak. The Czech Statistical Office in 2003 recognized the following Moravian dialects: *''Nářečí českomoravská'' (Bohemian–Moravian dialects) *''Nářečí středomoravská'' (Central Moravian dialects) :*''Podskupina tišnovská'' (Tišnov subgroup) *''Nářečí východomoravská'' (Eastern Moravian dialects) :*''Podskupina slovácká'' (Moravian Slovakia, Moravian Slovak subgroup) :*''Podskupina valašská'' (Moravian Wallachian subgroup) *''Nářečí slezská'' (Silesian dialects)


Sample

In a 1964 textbook on Czech dialectology, Břetislav Koudela used the following sentence to highlight phonetic differences between dialects:


Mutual intelligibility with Slovak

Czech and Slovak have been considered mutual intelligibility, mutually intelligible; speakers of either language can communicate with greater ease than those of any other pair of West Slavic languages. Following the 1993 dissolution of Czechoslovakia, mutual intelligibility declined for younger speakers, probably because Czech speakers began to experience less exposure to Slovak and vice versa. A 2015 study involving participants with a mean age of around 23 nonetheless concluded that there remained a high degree of mutual intelligibility between the two languages. Grammatically, both languages share a common syntax. One study showed that Czech and Slovak lexicons differed by 80 percent, but this high percentage was found to stem primarily from differing orthographies and slight inconsistencies in morphological formation; Slovak morphology is more regular (when changing from the nominative case, nominative to the locative case, ''Prague, Praha'' becomes ''Praze'' in Czech and ''Prahe'' in Slovak). The two lexicons are generally considered similar, with most differences found in colloquial vocabulary and some scientific terminology. Slovak has slightly more borrowed words than Czech. The similarities between Czech and Slovak led to the languages being considered a single language by a group of 19th-century scholars who called themselves "Czechoslavs" (''Čechoslované''), believing that the peoples were connected in a way which excluded German Bohemians and (to a lesser extent) Hungarian people, Hungarians and other Slavs. During the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918–1938), although "Czechoslovak" was designated as the republic's official language, both Czech and Slovak written standards were used. Standard written Slovak was partially modeled on literary Czech, and Czech was preferred for some official functions in the Slovak half of the republic. Czech influence on Slovak was protested by Slovak scholars, and when Slovakia broke off from Czechoslovakia in 1938 as the Slovak Republic (1939–1945), Slovak State (which then aligned with Nazi Germany in World War II), literary Slovak was deliberately distanced from Czech. When the Axis powers lost the war and Czechoslovakia reformed, Slovak developed somewhat on its own (with Czech influence); during the Prague Spring of 1968, Slovak gained independence from (and equality with) Czech, due to the transformation of Czechoslovakia from a unitary state to a federation. Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, "Czechoslovak" has referred to improvised pidgins of the languages which have arisen from the decrease in mutual intelligibility.


Vocabulary

Czech vocabulary derives primarily from Slavic, Baltic and other Indo-European roots. Although most verbs have Balto-Slavic origins, pronouns, prepositions and some verbs have wider, Indo-European roots. Some loanwords have been restructured by folk etymology to resemble native Czech words (e.g. ''wikt:hřbitov, hřbitov'', "graveyard" and ''wikt:listina, listina'', "list"). Most Czech loanwords originated in one of two time periods. Earlier loanwords, primarily from German, Greek language, Greek and Latin, arrived before the Czech National Revival. More recent loanwords derive primarily from English and French language, French, and also from Hebrew language, Hebrew, Arabic language, Arabic and Persian language, Persian. Many Russian loanwords, principally animal names and naval terms, also exist in Czech. Although older German loanwords were colloquial, recent borrowings from other languages are associated with high culture. During the nineteenth century, words with Greek and Latin roots were rejected in favor of those based on older Czech words and common Slavic roots; "music" is ''wikt:muzyka, muzyka'' in Polish and ''музыка'' (''muzyka'') in Russian, but in Czech it is ''wikt:hudba, hudba''. Some Czech words have been borrowed as loanwords into List of English words of Czech origin, English and other languages—for example, ''robot'' (from ''wikt:robota, robota'', "labor") and ''polka'' (from ''wikt:polka, polka'', "Polish people, Polish woman" or from "půlka" "half").


Sample text

According to Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Czech: ''Všichni lidé se rodí svobodní a sobě rovní co do důstojnosti a práv. Jsou nadáni rozumem a svědomím a mají spolu jednat v duchu bratrství.'' English: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."


See also

* Czech Centers * Czech name * Czech Sign Language * wikt:Wiktionary:Swadesh lists for Slavic languages, Swadesh list of Slavic words


Notes


References

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links


Ústav pro jazyk český
– Czech Language Institute, the regulatory body for the Czech language
Czech National Corpus

Czech Monolingual Online Dictionary

Online Translation Dictionaries

Czech Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words
(from Wiktionary'
Swadesh-list appendix
{{Authority control Czech language, Languages of the Czech Republic Languages of Slovakia Subject–verb–object languages West Slavic languages