Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Just when people were starting to think it might be alright to go back into the cellar, down comes the rain again almost solid for three days, and some new names are added to the list of afflicted
places. Not a pleasant topic at all, but these words are on everyone's lips. The most common word is "flood" - say /flad/ - which is countable, so there can be "a flood" in one place and "floods"
in several places. Over a large area there is "flooding". The English words tend to combine the idea of a large amount of falling water together with the resulting flood: "a spate" comes from
Norse, "an inundation" comes from Latin, and "a cataclysm" comes from Greek. A flood from an overflowing river that breaks its banks should be "povodeň"; the Flood in the Bible is "potopa"; a spate
like a wave that washes things away should be "záplava"; an inundation or cataclysm should be "prívalová vlna" or "prívalový dážď".
It's good to see the influence of this column spreading to people from external companies who like to read OVI - thank you for your questions. This week's query is about expressions like "to go
fishing", which people might understand as "walking along and fishing at the same time". This is a similar difference as between "loviac" and "lovenie". Compare "He walked towards his car, fishing
in his pocket for the keys." (present participle) with "I love fishing, I started fishing as a boy with my father." (verbal noun for activity). Probably in the past the complete expression was "to
go for (to do) some fishing", expressing the purpose of going, but people are lazy and tend to shorten things if they can, especially when supported by analogy (love fishing, start fishing).
Please send questions about English language habits to email@example.com, and I will choose one to answer each week.