Tricky Words in this week‘s OVI
Škola (Slovak, Czech), school (English), école (French), Schule (German), iskola (Hungarian) – the similarity of these words in European languages reflects the common tradition of education and the kind of institution we all know. It's interesting (maybe even ironic) that the original Greek root word meant “leisure” as opposed to “duty”, and then the use of leisure time for personal improvement through learning. You have to imagine Socrates and a group of young men (his pupils) sitting around in a garden and talking about philosophy. This was the original “school”, in the sense of a group of people sharing similar ideas and a way of thinking, as in “the Freudian school of psychoanalysis” or “the Keynesian school of economic theory”. Things get tricky when “school” is understood as an institution.
Comparing the use of the word “school” by Slovak and English speakers, when they mean a place of learning, I find the usual difference, which is that Slovaks use škola for a wider range of institutions, all the way from materská to vysoká. This is possible in English too, of course, starting with nursery school and finishing with the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, but this use of “School” tends to be part of an official name. I'm concerned with translating from Slovak into English, and something like doterajšiu profesionálnu kariéru od skončenia školy is problematic, because it could mean secondary school, college or university. By using one of these more specific expressions in English, I might even cause offense, so in the end I'm guilty of a “cop-out” (alibizmus) because I just put “since finishing school”.