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



051 Two verbs condensed into one

A verb expressing motion, speech or duration together with another lexical verb can sometimes be condensed into a single verb in Czech.

„Duration can be expressed by aspect in Czech, so the finite verb sometimes seems to have disappeared in the translation. The finite verb say appears redundant in the construction exemplified, being reduced to a mere indicator of a switch between direct speech and the 3rd person main body of the text. […] Czech may dispense with the explicit expression of the act of speaking.“

A Centenary of English Studies at Charles University — Complex condensation — Vilém Mathesius, Josef Vachek, Jiří Nosek, and beyond. Markéta Malá, Pavlína Šaldová

Was this normal cat behaviour? Mr. Dursley wondered. Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house.

Pan Dursley chvilku uvažoval, jestli kočky se takhle chovají normálně. Zatímco se nutil ke klidu, otevřel si domovní dveře.

Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.

Dudley se k nim přikolábal tak rychle, jak jen byl schopen.

This brought Ichiro abruptly to his feet, and he went striding indoors without glancing back at us.

Ičiró se prudce vztyčil a odkrácel dovrnitř, aniž se po nás ohlédl.

If I spend the whole day moping, how did all these repairs get done?

Jestli celý den bloumám sklesle po domě, kdo potom stihl udělat všechny ty opravy?

“Things haven’t come far at all,“ I said, shaking my head.

“Nic nikam nedospělo,“ zavrtěl jsem hlavou.

For a few more minutes, my father continued to study the paintings, and I sat there watching him in silence.

Otec si opět nějakou chvíli prohlížel obrázky a já ho mlčky pozoroval.




050 Czech verbless counterparts

Some examples of Czech counterparts to English verbal forms from the Intercorp parallel corpus involving participles or zero verb forms.

It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.

Když pak kolem nich procházel zpátky, v ruce sáček s velkou koblihou, zachytil několik slov z toho, co právě říkali.

Harry went back to the kitchen, still staring at his letter.

Harry se vrátil do kuchyně, oči ještě pořád upřené na svůj dopis.

The whole shack shivered and Harry sat bolt upright, staring at the door.

Celá chatrč se zatřásla a Harry se posadil zpříma, s pohledem upřeným na dveře.

Akira Sagimura had built an eastern wing to the house, comprising three large rooms, connected to the main body of the house by a long corridor, running down one side of the garden.

Akira Sagimura kdysi přistavěl východní křídlo se třemi velkými pokoji, spojené s hlavní budovou dlouhou chodbou podél zahrady.

His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.

Tvář mu skoro úplně zakrývala dlouhá, ježatá hříva a divoké, štětinaté vousy, pod vším tím porostem se však daly rozeznat jeho oči, lesklé jako dva švábi.

He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.

Právě strhával papír ze zlatých náramkových hodinek, když se teta Petunie vrátila od telefonu celá rozčílená a ustaraná.

“I know you haven’t,“ said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring.

“Já vím, že vy ho nemáte,“ řekla profesorka McGonagallová napůl podrážděně, napůl s obdivem.

Using a dark brown crayon, he drew on the lower part of the sheet a row of boxes.

Tmavě hnědou pastelkou načrtl na dolní část listu řadu krabic.
NOTE Use/using can be deployed for all kinds of Czech expressions of instrumentality…


A Centenary of English Studies at Charles University

Complex condensation — Vilém Mathesius, Josef Vachek, Jiří Nosek, and beyond.

Marketa Malá, Pavlina Šaldová

049 Ovšemismus – hedging expressions

Czech academic writers tend to appear wary of commiting themselves fully,
without hesitation and reserve, to their statements, propositions and suggestions. In other
words, they formulate their pronouncements in a far less assertive, direct and
matter-of-fact tone than English writers usually do. This high degree of hedging also implies a
certain modesty or understatement (which might be, of course, sincere or merely a rhetorical
The list of Czech hedging predicates, particles and adverbs is similar to
that in other languages but their text frequency with Czech authors is conspicuously high.
Several examples: je možné, že; jak se zdá, zdá se nám zřejmé, že; asi; snad; možná,
A typical Czech hedging expression may be seen in the particle ovšem,
combining the adversative feature “but“ with the supposition “obviously“. This particle
enables the Czech writer to weaken or restrict the validity of his previous statement (a Czech
philosopher wittily called this phenomenon “Czech ovšemism“). A similar effect is achieved
by the use of the double expression na jedné stráně – na druhé stráně ovšem, witnessing
the Czech tendency to dialectical treatment of the phenomena in question.
Czech academic texts often have a tenor of reasoning and contemplation, of
evaluating different possibilities and finding one’s way through them. On the other
hand, the impersonal character of the majority of the predicates given is in accord with the
overall impersonal character of Czech writings. (To be sure, the personal character claimed for
English writings by many text-linguists does not preclude the use of impersonal
As a parallel to this kind of hedging, different types of article headings
may also be considered. The modern English heading, in the great majority of cases, has
a nominal form whereas Czech authors often use noun phrases with modifying prepositions “o“ or “k“ indicating a particular result the author is trying to achieve, or “a
contribution to“. This practice corresponds, in principle, with the German usage of the prepositions über and zu and the Russian usage of “o(b)“ and especially “k“. The hedging effect of these prepositional phrases is obvious.
In general, the lower degree of assertiveness, the less positive and less
persuasive formulations may be taken to correspond to the features of the German and
Russian intellectual style.
It is not typical for Czech authors to explicitly lead the reader through
the text and explain the path and organization of the paper at the outset. Consequently, Czech
academic texts are less explicit on this point. This holds also for definitions of central or
crucial terms and concepts, and for formulation of these, rules, and so forth. On the other
hand, this kind of implicitness does not necessarily result […] in brevity, conciseness,
economy, or condensed style. Often the reader is reminded again and again of the author’s idea, frequently in a slightly different way each time, modified, and as if viewed from a new
perspective. The author tries again and again to grasp the phenomenon described in a more
appropriate way, to come closer and closer to its nature […] the definition process is seen
as developing in the course of the whole text. This continuing definition process, or rather,
grasping effort, of Czech scholars causes many problems for English translators, who are never sure whether the author is referring to the same phenomenon by all these different
designations: English translators often suggest consistently using the same term and avoiding
parallel expressions.

From Jazyk a text II. – Výbor z lingvistického díla Františka Daneše – Universita
Karlova v Praze  Filozofická fakulta




048  Genitives and prepositions translated by participle phrases

Dosavadní výzkum se věnoval také problematice studentů a roli studentského hnutí v šedesátých

Previous research has also focused on the issues surrounding students and the role played by the students‚ movement in the 1960s.

Jestliže v počátcích sledovaného období převládal narativ vytváření nové společnosti a formování nového člověka, v šedesátých letech se akcent posouval k rétorice spojené s tzv. vědeckotechnickou revolucí. 

Whereas the early part of the period under review was dominated by a narrative invoking the creation of a new society and the New Man, the emphasis during the 1960s shifted to  “scientific and technical revolution“ rhetoric.

Cílem bude vytvořit typologii individuálních kariérních strategií vysokoškolských pracovníků

The objective will be to create a typology of individual career strategies adopted by higher education staff. 
Another example with solutions from Czechlist here.

047 Dative of empathy

AKA the ethical dative and the interactional dative.

You see, she turned pale   Ona vám zbledla

I couldn’t fall asleep, you know  Já jsem ti nemohl spát

You see, he couldn’t utter a word On vám nebyl schopen slova

Hey listen, Erika got an F in chemistry Erika ti měla kouli z chemie

Y’know, just imagine, he started to kiss my hands Von mi ti, představ si, začal libat ruce

Believe it or not, I haven’t yet read this one Tohle jsem ti ještě nečetla

Some examples taken from The notion of affectedness in expressing interpersonal functions by Mirjam Fried, who distinguishes three types of dative of empathy (DE):

Contact DE (1), Subjective DE (2), and Distancing DE (3);

1. Přijdu si večer v pátek domů, povečeřím, a začal  ti  mě bolet  zub.                                                Friday evening I get myself home, have a little supper, and get this,  my tooth starts hurting

2. No  to  je  mi  ale náhoda!                                                                                                                                   My, what a coincidence!

3. Dej si mu  přes  hubu,  jak  chceš                                                                                                                     Help yourself and beat him up [if it makes you feel good] – as you  want, I don‟t care.

Some more comments from Mirjam Fried in Categories and categorial changes: The third syntactical plan and beyond (Edited by M. Martinková, M. Janebová and J. Macháček — Palacký University 2014) Chapter 1 From semantic to interactional dative – Mirjam Fried

„The interactional dative is not just an elliptical ‘I’m telling you’ but also an emergent ‘pragmatic particle’, a distinct discourse-structuring device.“

One questionable claim about these interactional datives remains, though, namely its presumed function as a device used for securing and/or maintaining the addressee’s attention., similar to the function of vocatives, i.e simply an elliptical form of the phrase ‚I’m telling you‘. But this is not the whole story…

Von začne řvát a já ti bych mu takovou dala pěstí                                                                                         He starts howling and I tell you, I’d so like to let him taste my fist.

Ňakou chvíli sme eště vo tom mluvili, vona vodešla a já vám sem vo tom přemýšlela i v noci  We kept talking about it for a while longer, she left and you know what, I kept thinking about it even at night.

Ráno sme spolu dneska stály u pokladny v diskontu, tak aby řeč nestála, říkám: „Štěpánka už má za sebou druhý spalničky a, a to? a vona říká: „ježíš, já vám ani nevím“
This morning we were standing at the cashiers in the market and so to make conversation I say: “ Štěpánka has been through two cases of measles by now and you know? and she said: Jesus, I don’t really know, believe it or not.

„None of these examples can be fully described by treating the interactional dative generically as a way of securing the addressee’s attention. In each of these and similar other cases, the speaker is also situating the propositional content in a particular evaluative frame and letting the addressee know about his or her emotional involvement in the topic. What connects them all is not merely an attempt to inform the addressee that “I am telling you something, so please listen“ (the traditional and empirically not properly grounded analysis), but drawing attention to the fact that “I am telling “ for a reason: the propositional content at hand is presented as particularly newsworthy because it contains an element of surprise and in that sense is also relatively “new“.“

Hence the interactive dative can be a focus marker / rhematic marker.


“The form carries features shared with propositional, semantic datives (in particular the dative of interest) but in meaning and function it is closer to the category of pragmatic particles, i.e. linguistic devices that help structure the flow of conversational discourse.“
„Also note the incipient syntactic changes, particularly in word order.”