What’s in a Word?


i’ve always prided myself (ya ya, self-praise is no praise) for being able to pickup a language fairly quickly. i picked up mandarin from friends in ukm, also because i was forced to in order to communicate with my roommate; a bit of cantonese from tvb dramas (please don’t force me to speak, i sound horrible in it though understanding it is ok); german from a class in uni, japanese (which i’ve forgotten all the hiragana writings now) when i was with Sony; and hokkien being my mother-tongue … with english and bm learnt from schooling years. 

SO, when we first got here to Slovakia, i was a bit cocky and thought that i could also just pickup slovak. i thought what’s the fuss, it’s just another languague, and since it’s so near Germany, it might sound like german and prolly have some of the same grammar. one of ayl’s colleague’s wife took 2 years now to acquire slovak, and she’s still learning. i gave myself half a year… boy, was i arrogant! now i’ll need to swallow not only my pride but also my own tongue. bleh~

first off, slovak sounds nothing like german though both languages have gender-grammar (masculine/feminine/neutral). this requires a lot of memorizing – one will need to know what object is ‘female’ or ‘male’ or … ‘sexless’? 😀

not only am i faced with a hard time pronunciating words, i’ve to also know which form of gender to use for each noun, and with slovak, the grammar changes depending on things which are alive and things which are dead as well. hhhuuuhhnnhh???? ok, i’m not gonna give myself a hard time explaining why slovak is super difficult – it just is. and here’s a bit of proof to what i’m talking about. 


sample of a conversation, someone looking for the main station

sample of a conversation; someone looking for the main station. the small symbols on top of the alphabets alters the pronunciation of the word.


another example of grammar

another example of grammar

it’s so confusing some slovaks can’t even explain why the grammar is as it is, one will just have to accept it as it is and commit it into memory. like why in English we use; ‘he-his-him’ and ‘she-her-her’ and NOT ‘she-shis-shim’

so, if according to the above Singular/Plural rule, is it safe for me to use the below then? 

Cristiano Ronaldo – Cristiana Ronalda??

to order things in restaurants/cafe, i’m still thinking of how to use the number 1. it takes the form of ‘jeden, jedno, jedna, jednu’… all of which has the same meaning but changes due to the noun. oh man…. so most of the time just point and use fingers to show count. 

we also noticed the change of names used in formal contexts. ‘ova’ is added to one’s last name – example; my doc’s name is Gavornikova; when her husband’s is just Gavornik. this is to show that the person is a lady. so then, if i were to use my name in a formal slovak context, it’s gonna be – LEONGOVA!! 

(hmmm…. what others? Angova (i choked lol on this!), Wangova, Luova, Tanova, Tehova, Leeova, Bongova, Gohova… wahakahahahak… please feel free to add any other surname/lastname you think is appropriate)


2 responses »

  1. very nice, I believe it must be very difficult for you to understand!

    P. S my husband surname is Danis and I am Danisova, just another example of your explanation of our surnames.

    nice day!

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