Slovak word of the day

Slabosť – weakness


Mám slabosť na cudzincov – I have a weakness for foreigners


Slovak word of the day

Nikdy sa nevzdávaj – never give up

Today’s Slovak word of the day is actually a phrase.  There’s a story behind this.  I recently met a young Slovak police officer with the English phrase “never give up” tattooed on his forearm.  He spoke very little English. With my limited Slovak and his limited English, we somehow managed to have a brief but rather amusing conversation.  He told me his dream was to visit New York City someday. He said he had been learning English for a year.   He had the phrase tattooed on his forearm to motivate himself to learn English.  I told him in my broken Slovak that I should probably tattoo the same phrase but in Slovak on my forehead.  Not sure if he got my joke but he smiled politely.

I told him that I’m learning Slovak.  He gave me a surprised look and then he said, “Slovak is a very difficult language to learn”, as if to warn me.  He then proposed that we should have language exchange lessons.  I smiled and said, “samozrejme!”, but it was a lie and I knew it wouldn’t work.  Through the years, countless of Slovakians have offered me language exchange lessons.  It’s always the same proposal. They teach me Slovak and at the same time they get to practice their English on me. It sounds like a great idea but in reality, it takes a lot of patience to teach someone a new language. The fact is, not everybody is a good teacher.   It’s like you agree with a friend to swap cars for a week and then you realize what a bad idea it is because your friend’s car is a piece of junk.

Anyway, I really admire this young officer’s determination to learn English.  I do hope he will achieve his goals.  As I’m writing this I realize I’m way behind with my Slovak words this month.  Nikdy sa nevzdávaj!

Slovak word of the day

Nervózny (adj.) – Nervous, jittery, irritated, annoyed, tense, restless, uneasy, uncomfortable, nervy, self conscious, neurotic.

It’s been more than a week since I last posted something.  It’s all my fault really.  I got lazy and distracted.  It takes a lot of discipline to maintain a blog.  And discipline is something I lack.  The Slovak word of the day is  nervózny.  There are many Slovak words that look and sound like the English equivalents but they are actually false friends and nervózny is one of them.  Slovakians use the word Nervózny for many situations.  They feel nervózny when they are irritated by their co workers, when the driver in front of them drives too slowly, when they have to wait in a long line, when they are about to sit for an exam, etc.

Nervózny is also how I’ve felt in the past month.  Well, the thing is, I blame myself for this.  To start with, I haven’t been spending enough time learning Slovak. The main reason why I want to learn one Slovak word a day is because I really want to speak Slovak fluently.  I am so tired of not understanding what is going on around me.  Actually, the next time someone asks me why I still don’t speak Slovak I might just kick them in the crotch.  Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive at this point but I find this question a bit condescending.  What am I supposed to say?  That I’m so stupid that I’m not capable of learning a new foreign language?  That I’m as lazy as a …… (fill in the blank)?

I know I’ve been a bit too cozy in my own little bubble.  It’s time to break out of this bubble and to really push myself.  And that’s what I’ve been doing since the beginning of this year.  Little baby steps.  Part of the reason I feel nervózny could be because I’m stepping into new unfamiliar territories.  Things appear to be intimidating and scary, people seem mean and unforgiving and even my friends seem to have abandoned me at times.  Such a lonely and scary thing to do when you leave your comfort zone.

I have to keep telling myself that it’s ok to fail sometimes.  Didn’t someone once said, “it’s the darkest before dawn?”  Oh whatever.  At the moment I need a way to control my feeling of  “nervózny”.  Maybe I should go learn a few Slovak swear words and start swearing only in Slovak.