Anglické jazykové okienko

Anglické jazykové okienko

Andy's Wordshop

  Continuing with the idea of using the word „ročník“ as a way of finding out someone's age, it can lead to misunderstanding at the Slovak/English-speaking interface, and confusion for people of my age (59) in particular (zvlášť). I'm naturally used to saying how old I am as a number of years (“I'm fifty-nine”). But several Slovaks I know, because they're roughly the same age, might say „Som ročník päťdesiatdeväť“, leaving me to work out that they're a year or two younger than me. This must be a cultural difference, and I think it fits the English individual vs. Slovak collective thinking dichotomy. The English idea is that each person's age is an individual number which may be publicly-known or kept secret. The Slovak approach is to identify which age group of people somebody belongs in, which is ultimately more tactful in this context.

Tricky Words in this week's OVI:

  The Slovak „ročník“ is proof that students of English to learn more than one translation of each Slovak word, and vice versa. In this case I can think of six different meanings of „ročník“. First there's the idea of “age group”, with three senses: a) a group of students who graduate from college together in the same year, b) all students in the same year group at school or college (NB „trieda“ is 1A, 2B, 3C, etc.),  and c) people born in a certain year, so where English speakers ask directly “How old are you?”, Slovaks ask indirectly „Ktorý si ročník?“. Then there's the meaning of a collection of all of one year's issues of a periodical in a single volume. Then there's the sense of wine produced from grapes all harvested in one particular year, i.e. “vintage". Finally there's the idea of an event in an annually-repeated sequence, termed “edition” in English.

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