Friday, January 29, 2010


The Czech language has a sound that doesn't exist in any other language and it is driving me crazy. The letter "Ř" is a rolled R sound with a „zh“ sound.

Czechs seem to take pride in the fact that even Slovaks, quite often, can't make this sound properly. It's normally the hardest sound for Czech children to learn and the ones that don't get it are sent to speech therapy.

I was told that during WWII, the Czech resistance used passwords that contained the letter "ř" in order to root out German spies. Pretty clever.

I hope that my ability to pronounce this properly will come in time. But then again, the former Czech president Václav Havel, due to a speech impediment, can't properly say the letter ř. So if he can't then I guess I should not worry about it too much.

Here's my second MS Movie Maker experiment. These two tongue twisters are supposed to help me with my ř.

Tři sta třicet tři stříbrných křepelek přeletělo přes tři sta třicet tři stříbrných střech.

Three hundred and thirty three silver quails flew over three hundred and thirty three silver roofs.

Přišel za mnou jeden Řek, a ten mi řek, abych mu řek, kolik je v Řecku řeckých řek. A já mu řek, že nejsem řek, abych mu řek, kolik je v Řecku řeckých řek.

A Greek came to me asking for how many Greek rivers are there in Greece. And I told him that I was no Greek to tell how many Greek rivers are there in Greece.

Update 2022:  Here are a couple of more Czech tongue twisters.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with this one. When I was 5 I was going for speech therapy for one year to learn to pronounce r,ř,š,s:) It really doesnt look good when you cannot pronounce ř properly as a czech:). I believe the people will be very suprised (in a good way) that you can speak some czech.

    I wonder if english children also have some problems with the pronounciation and if speech therapy does even exist?