Your Most Embarrassing Czech Language Fails

Non-native speakers share their most monumental Czech-language gaffes Staff Jason Pirodsky

Written by StaffJason Pirodsky Published on 26.01.2016 10:33:29 (updated on 26.01.2016) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech language mistakes and mishaps give the endeavor of learning this tricky Slavic tongue a little levity. Here is a round-up of the funnier ones our users are owning up to; share yours in the comment or leave them on our Facebook page:

Soup of the day…cat

I was telling my Czech husband and mother-in-law what our son had had for lunch according to what was posted on the wall at his school. Instead of čočková polévka (lentil soup) though I called it kočka polévka…cat soup! – Leah T., (CA)

Kuře (chicken) and kouří (he/she smokes)…this caused confusion on multiple occasions. -Shannon M., (US)

I was cooking. My housemate came in and asked what I was making. I replied “Vložky (maxi pads)!” She looked disgusted. I was cooking vločky (oatmeal). Never made that mistake again. -Flanna S., (US)

Shopkeeper shake up

My first morning in Prague I wasn’t feeling great. I headed to the potraviny across the road with my phrase book…’Dobry den, ja mam prujem‘ (I have diarrhea). ‘Tady ne! Budejovicka metro, lekarna‘ responded the shocked lady at the till… -Steve G., (UK)

I was teaching at preschool and didn’t understand the difference between kakat (to go poo) and skákat (to jump). The children who asked to go kakat were pretty surprised when I put them on the trampoline! -Kathryn C., (AUS)

Some kind of syntax

After spending my first Christmas with my wife’s family, my new aunt asked me if I would be with them again the next year to celebrate. I had been in the country two weeks but thought I could swing the Czech and answered back confidently, “Ne, proč?” I had meant to say Why not? and instead said No, why? Everyone laughed and it’s recounted every year. -Jeffrey Z., (US)

Rockin’ the reflexive

When we lived in Prague, we would invite my father-in-law for Sunday lunch. Once I sent him a text inviting him for that weekend and signed off, Umej se hezky (Wash yourself nicely) rather than Mej se hezky (take care). He showed up with a washcloth. -Erin D., (US)

I was very proud of my newly acquired ability to use reflexive verbs. So much so that when my co-workers complemented me on my Czech I would say smažím se, thinking I was saying in humble-brag fashion “I try” (snažím se) when in fact I was saying “I fry myself.” -Elizabeth H., (US)

Doctor, dealer, what’s the difference?

When I was getting my wisdom teeth removed they asked me if I took any drugs. The conversation went like this: “Sure” “What kind of drugs?” “Normal drugs” “What are ‘normal drugs’ for you?” “Uh…Panadol…” And that’s when I learned that difference between drogy (drugs) and leky (medicine). -Gail W., (US)

I remember being in a bar with a friend and he asked for a počítač (computer). The watiress said “Excuse me?” and he repeated it in a grumpy tone, pointing to his cigarette. He was trying to ask for a popelník (ashtray) -Emma B., (UK)


Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 36m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 36m2

Odkolkova, Praha 9 - Vysočany

Other commercial property for sale, 100m<sup>2</sup>

Other commercial property for sale, 100m2

Michelská, Praha 4 - Michle

Family house for sale, 238m<sup>2</sup>, 1051m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for sale, 238m2, 1051m2 of land

Na Michovkách II, Průhonice

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 32m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 1+KK - Studio, 32m2

Na bojišti, Praha 2 - Nové Město

Swearing without caring

I used to get confused between hotovost (cash) and hovno (shit) for some reason. Led to some awkward conversations with shopkeepers. -William H., (WAL)

In Bulgarian murdam means to move. In Czech to f***! I wondered why when I kept telling my daughter to stand still in Bulgarian, Czechs were rolling their eyes. And then I understood why. -Kristiana W., (BG)

It’s always great to tell someone that their young granddaughter is a lovely děvka (whore). -Gail W., (US)

No comment 

On a canoeing trip here in my early days one of the girls insisted on paying for an extra piece of equipment we needed at the last minute. As is the Irish way I tried to force the money on her with a torrent of abuse: “Proc jsi tak tezka?” She looked at me genuinely bewildered: “Tezka, nebo ceska?” Possibly a freudian slip. Louise K., (IRL)

I remember before I had a small grasp on the language and I was trying to say I was hot….It came out as jsem teply (I’m gay). I got a few chuckles. -Rich M., (US)

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