Young Czechs With Little Knowledge of Slovak

It´s going to be 20 years on 1st January since the common federation split. The Czech-Slovak Federative Republic was buried and both nations declared their individual and peaceful independence.

From 1918 to 1992 two nations were living together as one artificial nation. Czech and Slovak languages are mutually intelligible very much like Portuguese and Spanish. But unlike the Portuguese and the Spanish- these two nations never lived together as one, though their languages have the same roots. Therefore, during more than 70 years of living together, the nations learned the nuances quickly and lived with it as a natural thing.

However, today the statistics are clear. There are 30,000 Czechs in Slovakia, but more than 150 000 Slovaks in the Czech Republic. Not counted – young Slovak college students who study at the greatest institutes such as Masaryk University in Brno or University of Economics in Prague. The college students face a new challenge meeting their new classmates from the east- they somewhat have difficulties understanding the nuances which had been natural for their parents and grandparents.

Young Czech adults born after 1985 heard Slovak on TV and radio only very seldom. However, Czech films and TV programmes are not translated into Slovak, and books neither. This gives young Slovaks a slight comparative advantage and that is why they have no problems studying in Brno or Prague.

With a hole in the market something extraordinary happened. Language schools in the Czech Republic started to organize lessons in the Slovak language for Czechs. It is targeted especially at young adults as mentioned before.

Such a project is now bought by NGO Edukace in cooperation with Masaryk University in Brno.

In recent years TV mass media got involved as well. There have been talents shows such as Czech-Slovak Idol, Czech-Slovak Got Talent, The Voice etc. The giants such as TV JOJ and Prima began new co-operation in order to revive the common federation.

Only time will tell if the language gap is going to deepen or not. And if the languages separates the Czechs and the Slovaks today, the nostalgic idea of a once common nation unites them in their hearts and minds.

By Josef Novotny – www.TheDaily.CZ


  1. Bullshit. Young Czechs understand Slovak perfectly well! This is just a giant bubble created by medias. Yep, people might not understand some individual, ISOLATED words, but once they find out what the word means, they will remember it for the rest of their lives.
    Slovak rappers are extremely popular among Czech teenagers and I haven’t seen any complaints about not understanding the language.

    1. Well said Trexx. I am slowly learning Slovak but I find I can understand most Czech and once the few differences in vocabulary are explained I have no problem. My wife is a young Slovak, my teacher, and she agrees that this article is just media hype – a paper filler. I also find it strange that the host country is providing courses for its citizens to learn the language of visitors, I would have thought it more productive to give the courses to the visitors who will have to live and function within Czech society whilst studying.

  2. Frankly who cares ….??

    Putting lipstick on pig, still makes it a pig, no ?

    1. We, foreign people care about this, seems to be not important for czech or slovakians, but it is part of the very interesting part of the history of CR and Sk.

  3. On the Czech site the picture has a description:
    “Great Moravia was one of the first Czech and Slovak statehoods nearly 1500 years ago.”

    No, it wasn’t. It’s misinformation. It’s the same like calling France, occupied by the English in the 14th-15th century a statehood of the English and the French.
    Or if Hungarians claimed it before 1918.

    Great Moravia, the state of the Sloviens, was a statehood of the Slovaks and Moravians.

    And it wasn’t nearly 1.500 years ago but less then 1.200 years ago /from 833-902/.
    JB correction please.

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