Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My favourite Slovak word and other Bratislava musings

As I've travelled the world I've had a lot of fun discovering my favourite words in other languages. But I have to say that of many favourite words, one that's very high on my list is a Slovak word. It means ice cream, which of course is a very good thing to start with, and it is a crazy, fun sounding word (that takes a bit of practice to pronounce):

ZMRZLINA

Isn't Slovak and its lack of vowels crazy? I learnt Slovak for six months while I was living in Bratislava, and it should be noted that although a large group of my colleagues and I began the classes - they were offered free to all teachers at the school - only two of us ended up making it through the first six months. I even got a certificate. I admitted defeat after that although my brave colleague continued. But in the process, I did manage to figure out the basics of pronouncing words like this; even though it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue the pronunciation in Slovak is at least logical once you know it, unlike the poor people who have to learn English (thought, bough, tough, anyone?!).

Eating zmrzlina with my best Slovak friend
So back to zmrzlina. I love this word, and took as many opportunities as possible to use it while in Slovakia - mostly by heading into the central Old Town of Bratislava and lining up at one of my favourite zmrlzina shops. Ice cream was ridiculously cheap and crazily delicious when I lived in Bratislava (I sincerely hope it still is), though with the rather chilly winters it was definitely a summer-only option. (For winter, there was the amazing menu of hot chocolates at Cokolada, my favourite chocolate cafe.)

I have numerous good memories of buying ice creams with various Slovak and ex-pat friends and strolling the cobblestoned streets of Bratislava while eating it. A simple thing, but it's very often these kinds of moments that stick out most prominently in my memories of travels.

What about you? Do you have a simple memory that helps you look back very fondly on one of your trips? Or, indeed, a favourite, difficult-to-pronounce word? I'll be happy to read about either (or both!) in the comments below.

(Bratislava ice cream pic from kawanet. Look closely and you can see the price list showing "zmrzlina". I didn't make it up!)

6 comments:

  1. How do you pronounce it? Zmr-z-lina?

    It turns out that our surname is difficult to pronounce in New Zealand - the land that phonetically exchanges i for u and what is written on paper doesn't really translate to how it's pronounced!

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    1. Ha ha, laughed about your surname!

      Yes, it is kind of zmr-zl-ina ... it sounds dumb to say "how it looks" but it is kind of pronounced "how it looks"!

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  2. That certainly is a strange word, it´s always funny when words don´t seem to have enough vowels.

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    1. Sure is - took me a while to get used to!

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  3. I like to remember waking up in Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World with 2 very excited children for our first day. It was so peaceful there amongst the trees, and we all knew we'd have a good day! And for some reason I was taken by an exit sign I once saw on the way out of a tiny Greek village, which said simply, KALO TAXEDI - good journey. More sincere than those silly signs which say "thank you for visiting our village" when in all probability you've just driven through and haven't even noticed their village. Everyone wants a good journey, though!

    By the way, if you are in touch with any travel bloggers who are in Greece or have just been there, I've just blogged about a project on my website that is seeking bloggers about Greece.

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    1. That's a lovely memory, Jenny! Simple ones are often the best. I do like that sign, too.
      Don't think any of the travel bloggers I know have recent Greece experience but will check your site if I think of any, thanks! (I rather wish that *I* had been to Greece recently - not just 25+ years ago!)

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