Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Decorations. Once again, people who restrict themselves to learning one Slovak meaning for each English word (and vice-versa) will have trouble understanding exactly what those steelmakers were
presented with last Friday after the Salamander Parade in Banská Štiavnica, because they will be puzzling over the idea of "ozdoby", like they might put on their Christmas tree.
The point is that decoration can also mean a medal (I suppose the idea is that medals decorate a person's chest, especially if they are wearing a dress uniform), which represents a specific honor
which has been granted to someone. So if someone is honored for their loyalty to work, they are decorated with a medal circumscribed with the words (s kruhopisom) "For Loyalty To Work". Another
word for honor is order (in Slovak: rad), which makes somebody a member of an elite group, for example the Order of the Knights of Malta, and the Maltese cross is the insignia of that elite group
or Order (in Slovak: Rád).
The question for this issue (though it was expressed more like a challenge) was for me to explain the English word "please". Alright, no sweat. First of all, "please" does not mean "prosím" in
everyday phrases - it means "prosím SI niečo". It's just a coincidence (zhoda okolností) when a Slovak request ends in "prosím", apparently matching an English request, which should ALWAYS end with
The underlying meaning of "prosba" is "prosím SI niečo". It makes no sense in English to say "please" when you OFFER somebody something (it makes "ponúkanie" sound like "prosíkanie") - instead say
"Here you are", or "Help yourself", or "Be my guest", or "You're welcome". Say "Excuse me?" when you don't hear well, and "I ask you!" when you're irritated. But always say "please" after you ask
for something. Please send questions about English language habits to email@example.com, and I will choose one to answer in each issue.