Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Anniversary. This is not tricky in terms of its meaning, because there's no problem with translating it as "výročie", but in the last few weeks I've been comparing the way the Slovak word is used
with the possibilities for using the English word which sound natural to me. As usual the important difference lies in the combinations of words, and I can see "výročie" being used together with
periods of time ("výročie pôsobenia USSK"), whereas "anniversary" must be linked with dates in time ("anniversary of the establishment of USSK"). Anniversary comes from Latin, "anni-" meaning year,
like in "annual" or "millennium", and "-versary" meaning "turning-point", like in "reverse" or "vertebra". So "anniversary of the activity" doesn't make sense, but "anniversary of the start of the
activity" does, because the activity started on a specific day or date, and the anniversary is exactly a year (or ten years) later, to the day.
This week's question is about why English speakers don't use diminutives (zdrobneniny in Slovak, or zdrobněliny in Czech) as much as Slovaks. Diminutives are so much part of Slovak usage that they
must be linked with some thinking process as well. I don't mean thinking that everything is smaller than it really is, but presenting things as more familiar, more friendly and more pleasant. So
"pes" becomes "psík" and "psíček", and "Mária" becomes "Majka" and "Marienka". There are equivalents in English (doggy, Maggie for Margaret, Danny for Daniel), then there's "cigarette", "leaflet"
or "duckling" - but these really mean "small ones" - and that's all. Could this be the reserved, humorless Anglo-Saxon approach to life compared with the more sociable, sentimental Slavic view of