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Lesson Transcript

Gabriella:Hi everyone, I’m Gabriella, and welcome back to CzechClass101.com! This is All About, Lesson 4 Basic Czech Pronunciation. In this lesson, we'll show you how easy it is to start speaking Czech.
Martin:And that's because we will be focusing on pronunciation. Hi everyone, I’m Martin!

Lesson focus

Gabriella:The Czech language contains extra characters with diacritics, whose pronunciation is not always easy. To perfect Czech pronunciation, you should learn how to pronounce words with diacritic marks. Now, before we look at the marks, let’s review the Czech alphabet. How many letters are there in the alphabet again, Martin?
Martin:There are 42 letters in total, including 26 letters that are also used in English, and 16 additional letters with diacritics.
Gabriella:Right! And one more thing, out of 42 letters, there are 25 consonants and 13 vowels, together with a few additional compounds derived from them.
Martin:That’s right.
Gabriella:For more on how these sounds are pronounced, please be sure to check out the Pronunciation lessons that are part of this Introduction series. In this lesson, we’ll be focusing on the marks found in Czech, since they’re a very important part of pronunciation.
Martin:Yes. There are 3 main diacritical marks in Czech -
A length mark for long sounds, a circle for a long sound and a mark that looks like a “v” called a “hook”, which changes the sound of the letter.
Gabriella:Please note that diacritical marks are only applied above the vowels or consonants, and the best way for beginners to practice these marks is to listen to a native speaker. Martin, please show us the standard pronunciation.
Martin:All right. Let’s practice saying each letter with a diacritic using some easy Czech words. Please repeat after me.
Gabriella:First, the length mark... This is a long pronunciation of the letter. It should be about 1 and three quarters longer than the short pronunciation.
Martin:That’s right. Also, we only use length marks above vowels. Let’s start with the short ones... a [pause], i [pause], u [pause], e [pause], o [pause]. And now compare the long pronunciation á [pause], í [pause], ú [pause], é [pause], ó [pause].
Gabriella:Secondly, the pronunciation of the circle mark above the letter.
Martin:Yes, this circle is placed only above the letter “u” and nowhere else. The pronunciation is “ů” [pause] . It’s the same as the “ú” with a length mark. The only difference is in spelling. We use the “ú” with a circle at the beginning of a word, whilst the length mark “ů” is used in the stem of the word.
Gabriella:Thirdly, the “hook” diacritical mark...How does it change the pronunciation?
Martin:We have 7 consonants with the “hook” above them and only one vowel. The consonants are these:ž [pause], š [pause], č [pause], ř [pause], ď [pause], ť [pause], ň [pause] and the vowel ě [pause].
Gabriella:You can listen to the changes in pronunciation of the consonants in pairs. Let’s hear the consonants without the mark first, and then with the mark.
Martin:z - ž [pause], s - š [pause], c - č [pause] , r - ř [pause], d - ď [pause], t - ť [pause], n - ň [pause]. The only vowel with the “hook” mark changes e [pause] into ě [pause].
Gabriella:Now, the last extra consonant “c” and “h” together do not have a diacritic mark, but, they do belong to the group of non-existent consonants in English.
Martin:Yes, it’s “ch” and it’s a little hard for some people to pronounce it, because the sound comes from the throat, but it is not the English “k”. Please listen to the sound... “ch” [pause]. And now compare between h [pause] and ch [pause]. Try saying “chleba” [pause], which means “bread” in Czech.
Gabriella:The next one is the pronunciation of the compound consonants of d, t, n plus “i” at the end. The “i” makes the pronunciation soft.
Martin:You can repeat after me di [pause], ti [pause], ni [pause]. And now try to say these words:(theater) divadlo [pause], (press) tisk [pause], (nobody) nikdo [pause].
Gabriella:And finally, the compounds of d, t, n plus ě.
Martin:The sound is like this dě [pause] , tě [pause], ně [pause]. For example, in the words (thank you) děkuju [pause], (body) tělo [pause], (German) Němec [pause].
Gabriella:We also need to mention the compounds of consonants b, p, v, m combined with the vowel “ě”, as these frequently appear in Czech words.
Martin:Yes, that’s true. These are very common.
The sound is like this in the compounds.
bě [pause], pě [pause], vě [pause], mě. And to give you an example of words you can say:(to run) běžet [pause], (to foam) pěnit [pause], (science) věda [pause], (moon) měsíc [pause].
Gabriella:Okay everybody, how did you do?
Martin:We’ll leave it there for this lesson. I hope you all had fun learning about Czech pronunciation!
Gabriella:Keep in mind that listening and repeating is really the key to improving your pronunciation.
Martin:Listen to and copy native speakers as much as you can.
Gabriella:And of course, you can check the lesson notes to reinforce what you’ve learned here. Please join us next time, when we take a closer look at some must-know Czech phrases.


Gabriella:Thank you for listening everyone. See you next time!


Please to leave a comment.
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CzechClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Hello Listeners! Let's practice Czech Pronunciation, please post a comment if you have any question.

Justa Meica
Monday at 01:04 AM
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Great lesson!

You didn't mention the pronouciation of the letter C in Czech.

It's a different sound then in English.

I was saying a bunch of Czech words incorrectly until I learned c sounds like the ts in the word cats.

Sunday at 04:55 PM
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Should the start of diacritical be pronounced "die" as Gabriella says, or "dee" as Martin says?

CzechClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 12:12 PM
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Hello Jessica,

Thank you for posting.

It seems the lesson notes work fine in this case.

Could you check if you have a free lifetime account? Those who have the free lifetime account can access only up to lesson 3 for free. If you have basic or premium membership, please let me know which error message you see on the screen. It’d be great if you could send us an email at contactus@CzechClass101.com so that we can take a look at the issue closely.

Thank you,


Team CzechClass101.com

Tuesday at 01:49 AM
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I can´t download the Lesson Notes...:disappointed:

CzechClass101.com Verified
Thursday at 01:27 AM
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Hello David,

yes, thank you for noticing the mistake. I believe the mistake has been fixed.

Thank you for your feedback. Let us know if you have any other questions or comments.



team CzechClass.101.com

Thursday at 06:10 PM
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Sorry, I didn't see that my question is already mentiont bellow.

Thursday at 06:10 PM
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Hi, I would just to check what is correct.

In this lesson (#4) in audio and transcription pdf file (third page, fourth passage, Martin talking) it is stated next:

"We use the “ú” with a circle at the beginning of a word, whilst the length mark “ů” is used in the stem of the word."

First "u" is not with a circle, and last "u" is not with a lenght mark - so, which one is therefore used at the beginning of a word, and which one is used in the stem of the word?

P.S. unless that, I am very grateful for this site and all possibilities you are providing for us. Thanks a lot!

CzechClass101.com Verified
Friday at 01:15 PM
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Hello Carley,

thank you for your message and pointing out our mistake.

Yes, you are right. A mistake has crept in. I have just informed the department team to fix it.

Thank you again for noticing and letting us know.



team CzechClass.101.com

Wednesday at 07:08 AM
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The transcript has an error when talking about u with length mark and u with circle. "It’s the same as the “ú” with a length mark.

The only difference is in spelling. We use the “ú” with a circle at the beginning

of a word, whilst the length mark “ů” is used in the stem of the word."

the first has a length mark and saying it is a circle, and the second is a circle saying it is a length mark. Should it be u with length mark is only at beginning?? That is what another site says. Please clarify.

CzechClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 11:07 PM
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Hi Joanna,

I'm glad to hear that things are getting better for you in terms of Czech pronunciation.

For sure Czech language takes some time to absorb. I think you are doing very well though.

Please feel free to lave us any note about your progress or ask any questions you need.

Best wishes


Team CzechClass101.com