Young Czechs have trouble understanding Slovak

The reverse is true in Slovakia, in part thanks to the popularity of Czech language books.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 29.12.2022 12:34:00 (updated on 29.12.2022) Reading time: 1 minute

Czech youths are having difficulties reading and understanding Slovak, while their Slovak counterparts have a good level of Czech and read books in that language, ČTK reports, citing Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers head Martin Vopenka. 

A case in point are Slovak films, which are screened and broadcast in Czechia with Czech subtitles; one of them is Piargy, a Slovak-Czech production that comes to Czech cinemas, complete with Czech subtitles, on Jan. 5, 2023. 

Before Czechoslovakia’s split, known as the Velvet Divorce, which happened almost three decades ago on January 1, 1993, news across the country was broadcast in Czech and Slovak, and films were screened in both languages. That meant that both Czechs and Slovaks were immersed in each other’s language. 

The pattern continues in Slovakia, in part due to its small book market, which makes people interested in Czech-language books. According to Vopenka, these reach 10 percent of their turnover in Slovakia. The books include Czech-language translations of Western language books, which are not translated into Slovak due to the limited market. 

Foreign translations in 2021

  • 5,246: The number of books translated into Czech from foreign languages
  • 37: The percentage of books translated into Czech from foreign languages versus original Czech literature
  • 2,668: The number of English language books translated into Czech
  • 806: The number of German language books translated into Czech
  • 335: The number of Slovak language books translated into Czech
  • Source: National Library data cited by ČTK 

On the other hand, Slovak books are not published in the Czech Republic due to the low interest in Slovak literature across the border.

"Basically, all translated books that will be published in Slovakia have certainly been published in the Czech Republic," Vopenka said.

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