Word-of-the-Day Wednesday: Dobrý deň

Each Wednesday, we’ll try to post a word or phrase in one of our new languages (Slovak and Romani) that will give you a glimpse into the place we’re going.

Today’s phrase:

SLOVAK:  Dobrý deň [DOH-bree DEHNy] **

MEANING:  “Good day” – a common way to say hello to someone during the daytime, in a more formal setting.  It’s a catch-all that takes in a good portion of the day.  You can use this phrase from 8 in the morning until dinner time, when you would switch to “good evening” (we’ll do that phrase later).

You’ll notice some of the marks over letters that we don’t have.  The ň symbol makes the n-sound “softer,” like in the words “onion” or “canyon.”  That seems awkward to us at the end of a word, but Slovaks pronounce it with ease.

Slovak is a very phonetic language – its pronunciation is almost completely guided by rules.  English, on the other hand,  has some phonetic rules, but those rules are subject to change over time (just how did we come up with the current pronunciation for “Greenwich” anyway?). When you read a word in Slovak, you will pronounce it the same way every time.  But not in English – Think of the word “read,” whose pronunciation will change depending on how you use it – “I like to read,” or “Last night he read the book.”  This is why English is a very hard second-language to learn!

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