061 Člověk and you

„The second person denoting the general human agent, though represented in both languages, appears to be far more characteristic of English than of Czech.“

„Although Czech has structural requisites which make parallelism between you and 2nd person possible, in fact many of the uses of you correspond to člověk and/or the reflexive forms. Thus in translating from English to Czech, care should be taken not to use the general second person too often under the influence of the original since in longer texts this would create the impression of a mannerism foreign to Czech….“


The general human agent can be conveyed in English by you, they, we, one, people, a man, a fellow etc and the passive voice. Of these the principal devices appear to be you and they [which] are far more frequent than all the others.

The English man-pronoun proper, one, appears to be the least common. It is stylistically marked in that it is more characteristic of scientific writing than of conversation, though even here it can hardly be described as common. Comments in manuals on ‘good English’ sometimes reveal a negative attitude towards it.

Stylistically, one belongs to higher style, whereas člověk is marked as colloquial.

Když má člověk někoho rád….                                                                                                                            When you love somebody….

Když o tom člověk začne přemyšlet.                                                                                                                  When you come to think about it.

To je tak, když se člověk pro ženskou obětuje.                                                                                        That’s what it’s like when you sacrifice yourself for a woman.

Chci se ženit, a člověk nikdy neví, co se může v domácnosti hodit.                                                           I want to get married, and you never know what may come in handy in a household.

Of course, you can be more ambiguous than člověk, so it should sometimes be avoided.

Czech third person plural –> English passive

We can expect some Czech third person plural forms to correspond to the passive in English. In some […] examples the two forms may alternate, but occasionally the passive appears to be more appropriate.

Zavolali mě k operaci                                                                                                                                                     I was called to an operation

Před chvíli mi nabídli nové místo.                                                                                                                           A little while ago I was offered a new job.

Jak to víš? Řekli mi to.                                                                                                                                                  How do you know? I was told.

The third person plural is most likely in the Czech equivalents because of the stylistic incongruity between the literary passive and the colloquial context. […] The English passive [can be] stylistically neutral.

Quotes and examples from Man-Sätze in Czech and English (in Studies in the English Language, Volume 2, p. 41) by Libuše Dušková.

060 Impose classic word order where possible

As a good rule of thumb, check to see if it is possible to apply classic English subject-predicate-adverbial word order (i.e. when you do not need to highlight any of the elements by putting them at the beginning or the end).

By DAPI staining of the deletants used in our study we have proved a difference in their properties in comparison to the parent strain.                                                                                        Differences in the properties of our deletants relative to the parent strain were demonstrated by DAPI staining.

These results we achieved by using….                                                                                                                    These results were obtained by using…;

In the next set of experiments, the kinetic constants were determined.                                                  The kinetic constants were determined in the next set of experiments.

After application of XY in these mice acute inflammation was observed in the abdominal region.                                                                                                                                                                        Acute inflammation in the abdominal region was observed in these mice after application of XY.

As recipients normal rats, nunu rats or CCIS rats were used.                                                          Normal rats, nunu rats or CCIS rats were used as recipients ….

From K psaní odborných článků v angličtině

059 Semantic range

Interesting insights from A Functional Analysis of Present Day English on a General Linguistic Basis by Vilém Mathesius and Josef Vachek:

English words as naming units usually have a wider range and  thus a more general and less definite content than Czech words, and are therefore  better suited to denote figurative meanings. This difference is encountered  especially in translating. A Czech word often has a too narrow, concrete meaning and does not fit in the particular context as well as the corresponding  English word. To illustrate this point let us compare the words prostor and  space. In Czech prostor is nearly always three-dimensional and local (if it is  used in reference to time it requires the adjective casový (prostor) [temporal  space] since this use is an exception), whereas in English, space refers to both place and time. 

Even though English words differ from Czech words in that an English word as a naming unit generally has a wider range and consequently a more general content than its Czech counterpart, English style is required to be  highly accurate, logical and concrete. It is thus often necessary to express  explicitly in English what in Czech is taken for granted; consequently, English  often uses more words where fewer are needed in Czech. For instance, Czech psal mi [he wrote to me] is often expressed in English by he wrote to tell me.

058 Functional sentence perspective

A brief summary of conclusions and insights from several works on functional sentence perspective (FSP):

Word order in Czech is usually decided by the interplay of these FSP factors: primarily linear modification, followed by context and then semantic structure.

In English the governing factor is primarily context, followed by semantic structure and then linear modification.

There is a striking difference between the proportion of individual FSP factors observed in Czech on the one hand and in English on the other. While in Czech the governing principle of FSP is linear modification (word order), in English the main load of FSP is carried — due to the relatively fixed word order — by context and the grammatical requirements of English syntax.

A dynamic translation takes this difference into consideration, thus producing a natural looking Czech or English text.

Consider the English and Czech versions of the sentences below; they convey the same message, though they treat it — in terms of word order — differently (the most dynamic elements are underlined)

A passer-by told me about that.

Ŕekl mi o tom nějaký kolemjdoucí.

There was an old picture on the wall.

Na zdi visel nějaký starý obraz.

It was in that restaurant that he announced this.

On to oznámil právě v té restauraci.

What I hate is making such excuses.

Takové vymlouvání skutečně nesnáším.

A Handbook of FSP — Martin Adam


English articles are found to be an important means of marking out FSP components, compensating for the above-mentioned rigidity in the linear arrangement of the English sentence. The indefinite article is often capable of marking a segment as RHEME regardless of its position in the sentence. Similarly, the definite article interrelates closely with THEME. It is an important means of referring to GIVEN elements and its employment in this way has far-reaching consequences both of a syntactic and a semantic nature.

THEMATIC MEANING AND TRANSLATION                                                                                             (Functional Sentence Perspective and its Relevance for Contrastive Language Study)Josef Fronek 


Without the help of FSP, a translator can often be oblivious of [these] five factors, and would in any event only account for them intuitively, rather than as a stage in his or her professional training: these are the factors of (a) emphasis, (b) the sequential progression of the text, (c) cohesion, which links the given (the theme, the topic) with the new (the rheme, the comment), (d) sound effect and (e) the relationship between spoken and written language;

As though in silent reading, the spoken language continuously lurks behind the written languageready to clarify any ‘potentiality’ [i.e. semantic ambiguity], where more than one interpretation of the meaning of a sentence is possible.

FSP becomes particularly important and useful in the analysis and evaluation of serious imaginative literature, where the written language is always potentially both spoken and ‘live’ in the sense of contemporary, whatever the date of its composition.

“[A] false stress or an incorrect sequence, which are both the special domain of FSP, will normally distort the meaning of a translation.”

FSP makes a fundamental distinction between the context-dependent and the context-independent elements of a sentence.

Here it is to the credit of the FSP scholars, and to the benefit of translators, to have shown that words may be context-dependent or context-independent or may have a degree of context-(in)dependence, […] and revert to their basic meaning when they appear out of context, as in: Translate into French: I bet. — Je parie. But: I bet she’ll turn up. — Il est à peu près certain qu’elle arrivera (She’ll almost certainly turn up). Some would here regard Je parie or even more Ich wette (G) as too literal, since they are unlikely to be as frequently used so colloquially as ‘I bet’.

With the help of FSP, the translator is compelled to regard both the original and his version as a spoken as well as a written text.

Language and Function (ed. Josef Hladký)                                                                                   Functional sentence perspective and translation                                                                                     Peter Newmark


Recent research into sentence stress in English has shown that the intonation centre, signalling the rheme proper, often falls on a non-final sentence element.

A written English clause with an ambiguous FSP structure (which is in speech disambiguated by the position of the intonation centre) can be disambiguated by word order in Czech.

Whereas in a Czech scientific text the rheme prevalently occurs in final position […]. an English scientific text shows the rheme in two more positions: preverbal and what may be called verbal.

About 50% of the clauses have the rheme at the end.

The position of the rheme in English and Czech sentences as consituents of a text          Studies in the English language                                                                                                              Libuše Dušková

(Scientific texts were chosen for this study, as they tend to avoid emotive and expressive word order).


Cases where the linear distribution of clause constituents overrides the clues provided by the other factors and becomes the principal FSP indicator are rare and have to be sought among sentence structures deviating from the canonical grammatical word order.

The search for sentences in which word order [= linear modification] alone can be relied on to override all other FSP factors as a theme/rheme indicator has proved to be difficult: they are extremely rare and rather elusive,

The strength of the weak factor is therefore limited; linearity only overrides the other FSP factors in a narrow range of syntactic constructions, which tend to be rare.

[L]inearity can override the other two non-prosodic factors (context and semantics), but it is difficult to imagine it overriding prosody [i.e. intonation, tone, stress etc].

Linearity in functional sentence perspective: the strength of the weak factor             Vladislav Smolka


Some examples from:

Syntax to Text — The Janus Face of Functional Sentence Perspective by Libuše Dušková

At dawn she was awakened by the sound of rain                                                                                           Za svítání ji probudil déšť

Her mouth opened to emit a sound                                                                                                                       Z pootevřených úst jí unikl zvuk

Bernie hadn’t after all owned the little house                                                                                        Domek Berniemu vlastně nepatřil

Gone were the terracotta roofs of the farmhouses they had known, the stone sinks, the primitive wood-burning stoves                                                                                                                    Terakotové střechy jejich bývalých venkovských domů, kamenné výlevky primitivní plotny, kde se topilo dřevem, upadly v zapomění

Morals were pretty strict in those days                                                                                                         Tehdy panovala přísná morálka

The pale lamplight fell on his face and chest                                                                                                      Na jeho čelo a hruď dopadlo bledě světlo lampy

…the minute I see something white in the letter box                                                                               …když se ve schránce něco bělá                                   

She gave the chair a gentle turn                                                                                                                                A mírně pootočila křeslo

He gave me an irritated look                                                                                                                                        Pohlédl na mne dotčeně

To the right of the path a mixture of grass and                                                                                            Napravo od ní se svažoval k hladině

weeds sloped down to the level of the water                                                                                                  břeh zarostlý travou a plevelem

…and dreadful heresies drifted across the poor fellow’s brain                                                                   a jeho mozek počaly pokoušet kacířské myšlenky

A single metaphor can give birth to love                                                                                                            Láska se může narodit z jedné metafory

Examples from Dušková:

With her right hand she pulled his head down and gave him a real kiss                                                  Pravou rukou si přitahla jeho hlavu a polibila ho jaksepatří.

Jaynes cursed and gave his desk a hard kick.                                                                                                Jaynes zaklel a tvrdě nakopl pracovní stůl.

He gave the untidy kitchen a scornful glance.                                                                                            Pohrdavě se rozhlédl po zaneřaděné kuchyňce.

He gave his wife a stern look.                                                                                                                          Přísně se podíval na ženu.

Relevant quotes:

“Owing to the grammatical function of English word order, the English subject mostly occurs in initial position, which is as a rule the position of the theme. In Czech, on the other hand, the initial thematic position is often occupied by other clause elements, adverbials being nearly as frequent as the subject, while the subject fairly often assumes the function of the rheme, and stands at the end.“ But there are many exceptions:

English differs from Czech in being so little susceptible to the requirements of FSP as to frequently disregard them altogether.’ – Vilém Mathesius

‚The most common strategy by far seems to be to abandon the thematic organization of the source text in favour of adhering to whatever word-order principles may be operating in the target language. In other words, most translators prefer to give priority to the syntactic principles of the target language rather than to the communicative structure of the source text. – Mona Baker‘ (In Other Words p. 171)

(FSP = aktuální členění větné )

See also 017 Word-order problems

057 An amazing hundred odd things you can do with English articles

When students complain to me that they will never get their heads around all the twists and turns of English articles I normally agree, while reassuring them that basic textbook rules cover ninety-something percent of cases, so they shouldn’t really worry their heads too much over the odd anomaly.

But just how many exceptions are there? Here on Czechlist we have started counting:

1. A(n) plus adjective plus plural noun phrase

 After AN incredible 859 days

This structure is dealt with in some detail here http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=330 ( “ English number-expressions have inherited […] a limited ability to act like singular noun phrases.”) and here https://english.stackexchange.com/…/indefinite-articles… “the singular article is used because in each of your examples the plural nouns make up a _single_ unit of time.”

2.  Musical instruments

The violin is really difficult.                                                                                                                                                Who’s that on the piano?

We often use the + singular when we talk about musical instruments in general, or about playing musical instruments.

But the is often dropped when talking about jazz or pop, and sometimes even classical music.

This recording was made with Miles Davis on trumpet.

From Practical English Usage — Michael Swan p. 66

3. Differentiating names of people, countries etc: 

The England of the 15th century was very different from the England of today.

Is this the same John I was speaking to yesterday?


4. Mountains

No article with some exceptions in the Bernese Oberland:

Snowdon, Everest, Mont Blanc, the Jungfrau


5. Titles

No article except the Reverend, the Venerable and aristocratic titles with place names:

General Cook, Lord Byron, Earl Attlee,  Cardinal Wolsey, King William I, the Reverend Charles Smith, the Duke of Beaufort, the Marquis of Bath.

6. Streets and Squares

No article, except for a few foreign ones:

Oxford Street, Park Lane, Berkeley Square, the Gran Via, the Champs Elysees

And in London some major roads are referred to familiarly with the article

Down the Old Kent Road

Up the Holloway Road

Up and down the City Road (from Pop Goes the Weasel)

7. Islands

No article, unless they are in groups:

Ceylon, Cuba, Australia, the Channel Islands, the Hebrides.

8. Before adjectives

Articles are used before adjectives to turn them into class nouns or abstract nouns:

The millionaire lives in a different world from the pauper.

The poor are still with us.

Nurses take care of the sick.

The strong should protect the weak.
9. Some phrases:

have zero article, e.g.:

to live from hand to mouth,

by word of mouth,

to set sail,

to make port,

to fight tooth and nail,

to throw oneself heart and soul,

inch by inch,

foot by foot,

by hook or by crook,

friend or foe?

to turn turtle

10. Special constructions

Note the position of the in these sentences.

If you can cope with a harder class, so much the better for you.

If he gets told off, so much the worse for him.

He did not pass the examination, more’s the pity.

If you did that, the more fool you.

Czechlist: protože někdo to holt dělat musí :-)

056 Nominal English versus verbal Czech

The nominal tendency in English sentence complexing opposed to the verbal tendency in Czech is the most frequently and widely discussed topic in all contrastive English-Czech linguistic studies (see Dušková), most of them referring to Vachek’s (Selected writings in English and general linguistics) findings about the relatively vague semantic nature of many English verbs, functioning as bearers of grammatical categories prototypical of the verb (tense, voice, mood…) and combining with nouns which function as the semantic centres of gravity: have a rest, take a seat, make a mistake etc.

In Czech, they are mostly compensated for by semantically rich verbs. This finding corresponds to the analytical nature of English compared to the preferred synthetic shaping of the predications in Czech. Compare:

It’s another busy springtime at the British Council, with a wide range of projects going on as usual. Once again in this season’s Zpravodaj we invite you to take a closer look at a few of them.                                                                                                                                                                               Britská rada proživá další čílé jarní období, kdy jako vždy probíhá rada nejrůznějsích projektů a akcí. A opět vám nabízíme nové číslo Zpravodaje, na jehož stránkách se s nekterými z nich můžete blíže seznamit.

Use of this kind of condensed nominal phrase is particularly interesting.

Even more idiomatic wording in English is not immune to the nominal tendency.

My husband was on the phone at once confirming our plans.                                                               Manžel okamžitě telefonoval, aby potvrdil naši účást.

From  Sentence complexes in Text – Processing strategies in English and in Czech – Jarmila Tárnyiková

The verb in English is usually semantically very weak, has an emptied meaning, serves as a mediator between the subject and other sentence elements. Due to the nominal tendency in English, predication tends to be expressed by non-verbal elements (nouns), whereas in Czech, predication tends to be expressed by the verb (although also in Czech the verb rarely completes the development of communication).

He’s been a teacher all his life.Celý život učí.

He takes a shower every day.Sprchuje se každý den.

She gave a funny laugh. — Legračně se zasmála.

He is a heavy smoker. — Hodně kouří.


From A Handbook of Functional Sentence Perspective — Martin Adam


055 Alternative perspectivization

The strong inclination in Czech to compensate for English condensers by clauses (both dependent and main) (see 054) sometimes results in the overall restructuring of the original sentence pattern, changing for example the directionality of the processes or events expressed in the source text (cf. the different perspectivization [of the next example] and the consequent vector change in the Czech translation counterpart:

Also, I hated driving behind anything.                                                                                                            Také jsem nesnášela, když přede mnou cokoliv jelo.

Every morning each patient was given a bed bath and had talcum powder applied to pressure points. Our teeth were cleaned, our hair was brushed and we were helped into a clean nightdress. After our bed linen was changed we lay back on our snowy pillows like pampered kings and queens.                                                                                                                                                       Kazdé ráno sestry pacienty umyly a zasypaly proleželiny pudrem. Vyčistily nám zuby, učesaly vlasy a vyměnili noční košile. Pak nám převlékly povlečení a uložily nás do sněhobílých peřin a polštářů, jako bychom byli prinezny na hrášku.

From the point of view of text perspectivization, the English version is primarily event-oriented, focusing on „what was done to the patients“. The Czech translation is participant-oriented, focusing on „what the nurses did to us“, i.e. the patients, and foregrounding the nurses. This different „zooming“ is systematically applied through the entire text chunk.
From the text-perspective, the English passive can operate as an effective means of text cohesion, linking text across the paragraph boundaries and allowing the text producer to keep to the identical subject.

From  Sentence complexes in Text – Processing strategies in English and in Czech – Jarmila Tárnyiková

054 Condensation

Condensation (particularly in literary and formal style)

“One of the global differences in the English-Czech interface is the tendency to shape the sentence complex in English as a compact whole, in which the core (nucleus) is surrounded by various more or less condensed structures (satellites); and the tendency in Czech to shape the sentence complex in a relatively loose way, in which the secondary communicative lines are preferably given the status of dependent clauses, loosely attached to the nuclear predication.”

“Surveying the differences in sentence complexing between English and Czech, Vachek* speaks of „two different ways in which the two languages tackle the realities of the outside world„. Thus, while in Czech there is a tendency to dissociate the extra-lingual reality and segment it into a „series of actions or processes“ (reflected in the relatively loose structure of the sentence complex), in English there is a tendency to envisage the same reality „as a single basic action or process, absorbing all other potential actions or processes as its elements or concomitant circumstances“.

*Selected Writings in English and General Linguistics

In other words, the ModE sentence complex is said to be organized around a nuclear predication, surrounded as it were, by „condensed“ satellites (infinitives, gerunds, participles, nominalized structures and other processes contributing to compactness) – the priorities of typologically different Czech are in a relatively loose sentence-complex structure, with a higher frequency of occurrence of dependent clauses [and] less frequent occurrences of sentence condensers…

These condensers are particularly visible in formal and literary registers.


The coat, though light, is extremely bulky.                                                                                                   Ačkoliv je kabát lehký, je extrémně objemny.

In my fantasy I was swapping witticisms.                                                                                                             V duchu jsem si představovala jak si vyměnuji vtipné poznámky.

On the occasion of my first American book promotion – a landmark in any writer’s life – I not only ignored the advice, I laughed in its face.                                                                                                       U příležitosti vydání své první knihy v Americe – což je přelom v životě každého spisovatele – jsem tuto radu nejen ignorovala, ale přímo jsem se jí vysmívala do očí.

Note: higher explicitness of the wording in Czech, which also contributes to the above-mentioned looser structure of sentence complexes.

I’m in another hotel, trying to write another film script.                                                                           Jsem zase v jiném hotelu a pokouším se napsat další filmový scenář.

Hearing a squeal of tyres, my daughter got out of her sick bed and looked out of her bedroom window to see a yellow car being reversed at speed and parked opposite our house.                     Má dcera zaslechla zasvíštění pneumatik, vylezla z postele a podívala se z okna. Viděla otlučené žluté auto, jak prudce brzdí a parkuje před protějším domem.

Here the Czech translator used two separate complexes to compensate for the single and compact whole used in the English source text.

We sat together in silence staring at the sunshine on the sea.                                                          Seděli jsme tiše vedle sebe a zírali na slunce nad mořem.

Speaking of the future, X is finally online.                                                                                                     Když mluvíme o budoucnosti, X je konečně online.

The backgrounding effect of the English condenser (speaking…) is diminished in Czech by the rank-raising process, changing the status of the English semi-clause (non-finite clause) into that of a dependent finite clause – or, in many cases, even the main clause, cf.

The wind had changed direction during the night, bringing a warm rain which had melted and washed away the snow.                                                                                                                                               V noci změnil vítr směr a přinesl teplý dešť, který sníh rozpustil a splachl.

“In some Czech translations from English there are „more condensers than a good and clear Czech style can absorb“. Translators possessed of finer feeling for the requirements of Czech style will resort to Czech dependent clauses as equivalents to English condensers.“

Literary style

The English sentence complex might be difficult to translate into Czech because of the ramification of communicative lines (i.e. the interruption of one clause by the insertion of another clause, or a sequence of clauses in which, due to the absence of explicit grammatical signals of syntagmatic relations, it is often demanding to piece the isolated parts together and interpret the whole)

Very often it is the case that the ramified (torn) clause, having its parts located in the initial and final positions respectively, creates a frame for the insertion of the ramifying (parenthetical) elements; the main communicative effect is that of creating communicative tension and highlighting the end-focal, „played-out“ separated consituent, as in

Trilogies, I was informed by my London sources, as soon as the news leaked out that I was writing one, are not good things for the West End.                                                                                     Trilogie, jak mne informovaly mé londyňské zdroje, když unikla zpráva, že jednu právě piši, nejsou tím pravým pro West End.

In the following example, the initial ramified part of the English version is neutralized in Czech:

When, after showering and dressing, he went to the Martineau Hall refectory for breakfast, he found her already seated at a fully occupied table, next to Dempsey.                                             Když se vysprchoval, oblekl a přišel do Martineauovy budovy na snídaní, seděla už v jídelně u plně obsazeného stolu, hned vedle Dempseyho.

With a string of awards behind it, this is widely regarded as one of the most important Northern Irish plays of the last three decades.                                                                                             Hra ziskala řadu cen a je považována za jedno z nejvýznamnějsích severoirských dramat posledních tři desetiletí.

Here the translator opted to present the sequence of events as a loose coordination of two main clauses (a frequent solution).


There’s only one version of the history, and what has happened has happened.                           Je jenom jedna verze historie. Co se stalo, to se stalo.

Chopping is perceived as a reader-friendly solution in translating larger English complexes.

Prototypically, this technique of ‚tearing‘ English sentence complexes into separate utterances in Czech is frequently applied in translating multi-clause English complexes into Czech.

Quickly pulling on a sweater, jeans and the tennis shoes that served him for slippers, Persse ran out into the mild morning air and soon overtook the American, whose pace was in fact rather slower than normal walking.                                                                                                                     Persse si rychle natáhl svetr, džinsy a tenisky, které mu sloužily jako přezuvky, vyběhl do vlahého rana a brzy Američana dohnal. Zappův běh byl totiž pomalejší nez normalni chůze.

In scientific texts, with high information density, the primary reason for chopping is obviously to make the Czech translation more transparent and easier to grasp.

Solar radiation is a resource continuum – a spectrum of different wavelength – but the photosynthetic apparatus is able to gain access to energy in only a restricted band of this spectrum.                                                                                                                                                            Sluneční záření je kontinuální zdroj, obsahující spektrum různých vlnových délek. Fotosyntetický aparát však dokáže využit energie jen v omezeném pásmu tohoto spektra.

Chopping can be used to facilitate explication.

Every main road seems to have been painted with diagonal lines, boxes or shark’s teeth patterns, and bigger and bossier signs.                                                                                                             Každá hlavní třída je pomalovana bílými diagonalami, čtverci či kresbami, které vypadají jako žraloci zuby. Najdete tam i složitější a větší útvary.

 The distribution of punctuation marks may to some extent be supportive in decision-making strategies about chopping. If e.g. a semi-colon occurs in the source sentence complex, the relatively looser connection of clauses optimizes the position for chopping.

For those of you who haven’t seen Pulp Fiction, I urge you to see it; despite its violent subject-matter, it is a highly moral film.                                                                                                                                A vy, kdo jste Pulp Fiction neviděli, rozhodně se na něj jdete podivat. Přesto, že je to film plný násílí, nese velký mravní náboj.

In the following pair, the Czech solution, with the rank-raise of the infinitive (to see) into the clause (Spatřili jsme) and the inclusion of that clause into an autonomous utterance, seem to add ‚dramatic‘ flavour to the description of the sequence of events –

The noise stopped and we looked out of the window to see the ferret faces strolling towards the back of the house.                                                                                                                                                 Hluk ustal a my jsme se podívaly z okna. Spatřily jsme jak fretci mladici miří k našemu zadnímu vchodu.

The main reasons for chopping English sentence complexes into more communicative units in Czech arethe following: to contribute to the transparency and ease of perception of long, more intricate and compact English complexes – and to contribute to the value-added change in information packaging (with more emphasis put onto the isolated, chopped part).

A case can sometimes be made for eliminating introductory attitudinal clauses and discourse markers expressed by ‚degraded‘ clauses:

You feel that you can play a lot more things that you couldn’t play in a bigger environment, you know.                                                                                                                                                                     Můžete zahrát věci, které by se ve větším prostředí zahrát nedaly.

Different rhetorical organization

He thought, as he leaned on the parapet of the town’s bridge and watched the tiny brown river drifting beneath it, of all the expensive young men of the thirties who had made, or wished to make, or talked of making, a gesture somewhat similar to his own, turning their backs on the setting that had pampered them; and how they had all failed from the start because their rejection was moved by the desire to enter, and be at one with, a vaguely conceived People, whose minds and lives they could not even begin to imagine, and who would in any case, if they ever arrived, have made their lives hell.

Když se tak opíral o zábradlí městského mostu a pozoroval hnědou řícku, jak pod ním proteká, přemyslel o všech těch vysoce postavených mladicích z třicátých let, kteří udělali, přali si udělat nebo mluvili o tom, že udělají gesto podobné tomu jeho; otočí se zády k prostředí, které je odchovalo; přemyslel o tom, jak prohrávali od samého začátku, protože jejich odmitání hnala touha stát se součastí Lidi s nejasnou koncepci, o jejichž mysli a životě ještě ani nezačali mít představu, a kteří, každopadně, pokud by se vůbec kdy objevili, jim udělají ze života peklo.

In the original English text, the sentence complex appears to comprise a relatively difficult, less transparent structure, causing communicative tension (by separating parts that belong together).

With the repetition of the predicate verb in the Czech text, and the English semi-caluses changed to finite clauses (otočí se zády vs turning their backs), the whole complex is more transparent.

In the Czech, we again see the tendency to dissociate the sentence complex into a series of relatively loose associated clauses, dominated by more than one nucleus.

If you say something to me 1 / I check 2 / that I have understood your message 3 / by saying it back to you in my own words, / that is, / different words from the ones / you used 4 / for / if I repeat your own words exactly 5 / you will doubt 6 / whether I have really understood you. 7

Když mi něco řeknete 1 / a já vám chci potvrdit 2, / že jsem vašemu sdělení rozuměl 3 / udělám to tak, 4 / že vám je zopakuji svými slovy, tj. jinými slovy 5/ než kterých jste použil vy, 6 / protože / kdybych vaše slova přesně opakoval 7 / neměli byste jistotu 8 / že jsem vám skutečně porozuměl. 9

In the Czech translation the morphological marking of the conditional (kdybych), together with the preference for the „when“ (když) conditional instead of the „if“ conditional, neutralizes the identity of the connectives and the sentence complex as a whole is looser, more explicative (cf. the increased number of clauses), and more transparent.

The decision to rank-raise the English condenser to the status of a finite predication in Czech can initiate a series of other processes leading to the overall restructuring of the original sentence complex.

Filmed in Scotland, England and France, the Da Vinci Code features some truly stunning locations – and they’re open to the public.                                                                                                          Šifra mistra Leonarda se natáčela ve Skotsku, Anglii a ve Francii a představuje některá skutečně fantastická místa – a ta jsou přistupná veřejnosti.

Initial condensers

Nose still stinging where it had hit the hearth, Harry made his way swiftly and silently toward the door.                                                                                                                                                                        Nos ho ještě bolel, jak předtím dopadl do krbu, ale přesto hned potichu zamířil ke dveřím.

From Sentence complexes in Text – Processing strategies in English and in Czech by Jarmila Tárnyiková

Note: In other descriptions of grammar, condensation is subsumed under ‚means of syntactic compression‘ (Quirk), ‚desententialization‘ (Huddleston) and ‚secondary predication‘ inter alia.

053 Progressive forms of stative verbs

The progressive form of an English stative (or state) verb (wanting, loving, hoping etc) can convey tentativeness/politeness or growing dynamism.

The use of the progressive form with these verbs is often not reflected at all in the Czech translations. Most typically, a basic Czech dictionary equivalent is used.

I believe she was wanting us all to go to the deer park.                                                                          Myslím, že nás chce všechny vzít do jelení obory.

However, the Czech conditional mood can sometimes be used to express politeness.

I was hoping to show it to you later.                                                                                                                  Rád bych ti ji ukázal.

Well, you’ll be wanting more definite information than that, won’t you?                               Potřeboval byste ale nějaké přesnější vyjadření.

But generally, the Czech translation equivalents of the English verbs of attitude in the progressive form do not seem to reflect the feature of politeness.

Dynamism can be expressed in Czech by an action verb like volat, hledat, chystat se.

The children have been wanting me this half hour.                                                                              Musím končit, děti mě volají už dobře půl hodiny.

We told him he could have the business right away. We’ve been wanting to retire early anyway.                                                                                                                                                                       Řekli jsme Ethanovi, že může podník převzít okamžitě, protože se stejně chystáme na odpočínek.

A Czech verb with a higher degree of intensity or expressivity is sometimes used, e.g toužit for hope and wish:

Just the man I’ve been hoping to see.                                                                                                       Přesně ten člověk, po kterém toužím.

It seemed she had been wanting to say all this for years.                                                                      Jako kdyby to všecko toužila vykříčet už kolik let.

Here chtít in the translation of the verb hope seems to show more active involvement of the subject with the activity:

She’d been hoping to get used to her job before she had to deal with him again.                      Chtěla si napřed zvyknout na svou práci, než s ním bude muset znovu jednat.

So anyway, one night I had a date, some guy I’d been hoping to impress, and I’d invited him over for dinner.                                                                                                                                                            No, ale jednou jsem měla rande s klukem, na kterého jsem chtěla udělat dojem, a pozvala jsem ho k sobě domů na večeři.

Similarly here the reflexive verb těšit se na implies a greater personal interest or involvement in the activity than doufat:

And I think Dad was hoping to see your desk at the Wall Street Journal.                                              A táta se podle mě těšil, že se podívá na tvůj stůl ve Wall Street Journal.

I was hoping you’d tell me.                                                                                                                                  Těšila jsem se, že mi to povíte.

She’s been wanting to meet him.                                                                                                              Nemůže se dočkat až ho uvidí.

An intensifying adverbial or expressions of emotional evaluation can be added to make the sentence sound less neutral.

It is what I have been hoping to receive.                                                                                                                V hloubi srdce jsem doufal, že se mi ho dostane.

I’m enjoying this.                                                                                                                                                         Ale mně se tu úžasně líbí.

I’m loving this book.                                                                                                                                              Zatím se mi ta kniha moc líbí.

I’m hoping he wins.                                                                                                                                               Doufám jen, že vyhraje.

…but from Brian she was hoping for a word of understanding.                                                                   …ale pokud šlo o Briana, čekala alespoň slůvko porozumění.

From Categories and categorial changes: The third syntactical plan and beyond                   Edited by M. Martinková, M. Janebová and J. Macháček — Palacký University 2014

Chapter Seven: Reevaluating the progressive form                                                                                 Lucie Černá


052 Have: various uses

Some notes on the various meanings of the have + infinitive/ing structure

Causative meaning                                                  

She had us working day after day

They had me repeat the message

Existential meaning

Also used with a non-causative ‘undergo’ sense. An existential device parallel to existential ‚there‘. Also referred to as experiential:

They had a few supporters helping them = There were a few supporters helping them.

Poldauf refers to this as a construction of ‘concerned participation’ – the ‚have‘ construction makes someone interested in the subject. Like ‚find‘, ‚feel‘ and ‚see‘. It can meet functional sentence perspective requirements.

The problem arises when it comes to disambiguating ‚have‘ as causative or existential.

In British English the construction is very infrequent and if used at all, translations show that it is causative more often than not.

The concept of causation has to be seen in the broader context of force dynamicsTalmy uses this idea of force dynamics to explain constructions like have/make/let/help . The causer can also be an affected participant. The causer can be affected by the event it caused:

Last week we had two new galleries opening.

The Czech translation does not always disambiguate between the two readings.

Not only is there a high number of zero correspondences, but very often even if a particular reading is adopted, an alternative translation can be supplied.

Test frames:

The different forms can be identified by applying the following test phrases:

What happened to the noun phrase was —> experiential

What the noun phrase did was —> causative

Try to —> causative

Despite their exposure to the frigid winds, the hard labor soon had them soaked in sweat.         Ač byli vystaveni mrazivému větru, z těžké práce byli zakrátko promáčeni potem.

Of course scientists did not appreciate having their discoveries used by the church to promote religion.                                                                                                                                                                 Samozřejmě, že se vědcúm nelíbilo, když církev využívala jejích objevy k propagaci náboženství.

Causative — normally nechat, dat 

I had him transferred to the hospital                                                                                                          Nechal jsem ho převézt do nemocnice

I had my tonsils removed                                                                                                                                           Nechal jsem si vytrhnout mandle                                                                                                                  Vytrhli mi mandle

Here competing causative and experiential readings show that they can actually complement one another

But other options exist

I’ll have them packed off back to Azkaban tonight.                                                                           Kdepak, zařídím, aby se ještě dnes večer vrátil do Azkabanu.

You didn’t have him killed                                                                                                                          Nezemřel ale na tvůj rozkaz.

Have them unbound and taken away.                                                                                                                 Ať je odvážou a odvedou.

We’re not having people slopping around                                                                                                    Nikomu nedovolíme, aby se tu flákal.                                                                                                            Nikdo se nám tu nebude flákat

Condensation in the Czech

She hadn’t had her hair done in a couple of days                                                                                           Už pár dnů nebyla u holiče

Perhaps it had broken and he’d taken it somewhere to have it repaired                                        Možná se rozbil a odvezl ho někam do opravny.

The Czech free dative can be used for experiential meaning

I had two dogs die of snake bite                                                                                                                          Dva psi mi umřeli na hadí uštknutí

Have you had your blood pressure checked recently?                                                                              Měřil vám někdo v poslední době tlak?

So now we can have people object                                                                                                                    Tak teď můžeme lidi nechat protestovat

All that the opposition would have us do was to hand out more and more fish.                           Opozice po nás bude chtít jen víc a víc ryb.

It’s a bit like opening doors and having people come in                                                                 …nechat lidi vejít dovnitř                                                                                                                                    …lidé vám sem přijdou

I had three people try to ring me.                                                                                                                      Zkoušeli se mi dovolat tři lidé.

John had that happen to him once at school.                                                                                         Johnu se to kdysi stalo ve škole.

I’ve had my husband leave me for a younger woman.                                                                       Manžel mě opustil kvůli mladší ženě.                                                                                                          Manžel mi odešel za mladší ženou.

The latter expresses the ‘concerned’ aspect better.

He’s never had anyone fetch the makings of colours for him before, though.                                  Ale ještě nikdy si nikoho pro suroviny na barvy neposlal.

I had one catch me in the elevator this afternoon.                                                                                    Dnes odpoledne mě jeden z nich chytil ve výtahu.

I’ll have you drop me off there first thing Friday morning.                                                                 Budeš mě tam muset v pátek hned ráno odvézt.

I will not have anyone see these.                                                                                                                     Tohle nesmí nikdo vidět.

We’ll have someone pick us up.                                                                                                                             Někdo nás tam určitě hodí.

On Monday he would have the secretary check the computer files.                                                        V pondělí požádá sekretářku, aby můj seznam srovnala…

Have the maid bring it to us.                                                                                                                                    Ať nám ho přinese služka.

We’ll have Klipspringer play the piano                                                                                                     Klipspringer nám musí zahrát na klavír.

In American English the percentage of zero correspondences is quite high. Have is completely lost in about 32% of cases.

I’d hate to have him get anything on me.                                                                                             Nechtěla bych, aby na mě něco věděl.

Existential examples:

It had large characters printed on the side                                                                                                       Na boku tašky se skvěla velká písmena

The Playbook’s cover has a flowery pyramid embossed on it                                                                  Na obálce Vědy hrou je plasticky vyvedená pyramid z květin.

„Čeština (ostatně podobně jako angličtina) umožňuje kauzativní interpretaci i tam, kde kauzativní konstrukce či sloveso není užito: věta Budeme rekonstruovat koupelnu ve většině případů neznamená, že majitelé budou rekonstrukci provádět sami.“

About a fifth of corpus examples were dealt with in this way.

Even if she’d had her clothes done at Rosenbau’s, she’d still have looked like a bloated snowman!                                                                                                                                                                        Ta kdyby šila u Rosenbauma, bude pořád vypadat jako hodně napapanej sněhulák.

Have it faxed to all that other agencies                                                                                                       Odfaxujte ji dalším agenturám.

There are many other cases with zero correspondence

I’ve just had this place redone                                                                                                                                  Je to tady nově zařízeno

And others where have is translated directly

I’m sure you have everything mapped out                                                                                                Určitě máš všechno naplánované

N.B. Gilquin differentiates 1] experiential, 2] existential and 3] lexical constructions:

1] Unfortunately Lorraine had her bag stolen.

2] And you had a scientist up there talking about pilgrimages.

3] Mr Gorbachev has very few cards left to play.


Categories and categorial changes: The third syntactical plan and beyond                   Edited by M. Martinková, M. Janebová and J. Macháček — Palacký University 2014

Chapter 2: Cause and concern: The have construction with the infinitive seen through its Czech translation equivalents — by Michaela Martinková


Jazykové paralely (edited by Anna Čermáková, Lucie Chlumská, Markéta Malá)

Chapter 2: Vazby kauzativní a vazby experiencální: paralely anglického slovesa have se sekundární predikací — by Michaela Martinková