G for greetings

This week Pavla Horakova reaches the letter G in Radio Prague's Czech language series and tells you all you need to know about Czech greetings

Hello and welcome to the ABC of Czech. My name is Pavla Horakova and I'm joined in the studio by Vladimir Tax - ahoj. Ahoj.

Yes, that's right. Ahoj is an informal greeting used both when meeting and parting with friends. Now if you think this nautical expression is out of place in a landlocked country, you're absolutely right. Nevertheless, the greeting, which found its way into the language in the 1920s together with expressions concerning sport, hiking and camping is very popular among all generations.

The general formal daytime greeting, used from morning until late is dobrý den, meaning literally good day. That's what Czechs say when they meet a stranger, somebody older or somebody of higher status. The same applies to dobré ráno or good morning, only this greeting is usable only until about 10 am. Even earlier than that, Czechs greet each other with dobré jitro. The word jitro means early morning and as Czechs are known as early risers, this expression is actually quite frequent. In the afternoon, Czechs say dobré odpoledne or good afternoon, and in the evening they greet each other with dobrý veèer. When parting at night or when going to bed, they say dobrou noc or good night.

Friends, family or people who are on first name terms have a different set of greetings they use among themselves. We've already spoken about ahoj. There's another originally foreign expression - èau, from the Italian. It too can be used both when meeting and parting with a friend. The Czech expression nazdar, is of Slavonic origin, and is linked to the verb daøit se, to do well, or prosper. Often, you can hear a very intimate parting word pa, or papa. Originally, this term comes from baby-talk.

The formal greeting used when parting is na shledanou. It roughly means "until we meet again" or "see you". Sometimes you can hear the abbreviated form nashle which is quite informal and somewhat less polite. Radio presenters often use an alteration of na shledanou which is na sly¹enou, meaning "until we hear each other again".

And that's all we have time for today. In next week's ABC of Czech, we will get to the letter H which for us signifies home. So, until then, na sly¹enou!

See also Living Czech.