I am linguistically challenged, and God sent me to a nation with one of the hardest languages to learn. What was He thinking?
I get asked all the time if I like living in the Czech Republic. I always answer the same;
I love this nation, but the language humbles me. Daily.
This is the most frustrating area of my life. Why? I will be honest. I feel humiliated and frustrated with my level of Czech after living here 14 years, and with the limitations that result. But how is it that I STILL lack motivation to study on and master this language? In fact, sometimes when I sit down to study Czech, a feeling of dread so overtakes me that it’s no wonder I haven’t thrown the book through a window (or cursed).
What is the big deal with Czech (Čeština)? There are more difficult languages, true.
But what about the pronunciation issues and consonant clusters in most words? Take for example:
zmrzl (froze to death),
and smrt (death).
A popular example of this is the phrase “strč prst skrz krk” meaning “stick a finger through your throat.”
Once I had my friend Rena in town, and she was observing the street signs while we were driving. Her reaction was, “I’d like to buy a vowel, please.”
And then there are the complicated seven declensions, so for example there are exponential different ways to say “man,” depending on one of the seven declinations and whether it’s singular or one of the two plurals forms and the gender. The endings for nouns, pronouns, possessive pronouns and adjectives change depending on if it’s masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine or neuter. The possibilities really are exponential!
But anyone who lives abroad and is learning another language has plenty of stories about embarrassing mistakes. For example some friends in Germany were trying to tell their neighbors in their building that they would be getting a dog (hund) and the neighbor was asking all kinds of strange questions like “where would it live?” The American explained that the dog would live with them in their flat, and that they’d take it out for walks. They couldn’t figure out the weird reaction until later when they realized that they had told the neighbor that they would have a pet chicken (huhn) at home.
We have a plethora of stories too, like when I wished all my neighbors a “Terrible New Year!” (Strašný nový rok) instead of ” Happy New Year!” (Št’astný nový rok). We have many other humiliating instances like mistaking the word for sperm instead of garden seeds. But back to the original question.
What was God thinking?
I guess He has a sense of humor and He knows that in our weakness, He is strong! 2 Cor 12:9
So the real question is, can I THANK God for the Czech language and the instrument of torture it is in my life?
It reminds me of the old adage which says
“what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.”
So, thank you Lord!
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