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Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic, spoken by virtually the entire population of 10 million people. It is closely related to Slovak, spoken in Slovakia, the two languages in fact being mutually intelligible.
Czech is a Slavic language written in the Roman script. The foundations of the alphabet were laid by the great religious reformer Jan Hus, in the early 15th century. The letters q, w, and x are used only in foreign words, while c is pronounced ts (e.g., cena – price), ch as in German (kachna – duck), and j as y (jazyk – language). Acute accents lengthen the vowels (kámen – stone), while a circle over the u produces a long oo sound (dům – house). The chevron over c, s, and z produces ch, sh, and zh respectively (čislo – number, koš – basket, život – life). But ň is pronounced ny as in “canyon” (daň – tax), ĕ is pronounced ye (mĕsto – city), and r is pronounced rzh, as in the name Dvořák. The letter r serves as a vowel, producing such words as krk (neck), smrt (death), and čtvrt(quarter). The stress is always on the first syllable.
Authorized from the original edition of The Languages of the World 3rd edition by Keneth Katzner published by Routledge, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group.
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