Photo: TEDx Bratislava

1. Ako sa máš? [ako sa mash] | How are you?

We Slovaks really mean it and we expect a sincere answer. Depending on how close we are to you, you should choose level of sincerity / politeness. If we are just colleagues who are not really close, it’s okay to say some general information. But if you are my friend, or a closer coworker, I expect to hear details.

The Slovak language is all about being specific and detailed. “I’m fine,” just will not do. We want to know why you are fine.

2. Nech sa páči [nyeh sa paatshi] | Here you are

Often heard in restaurants when ordering a meal, when being served drinks, or even when someone holds the door for you. It’s super confusing, I know! But don’t worry; it is just a polite way to say ‘There you go.’

3. V pohode [fpohodye] | It’s cool / It’s okay

This phrase established its place in the Slovak language just in recent years. Its meaning connects to anything that you want someone to be cool about. It also means you are saying that something is good, e.g. “This club is v pohode.”

4. Jedno pivo, prosím [yedno pivo proseem] | One beer, please

Slovaks celebrate everything with alcohol. Whether it’s just an ordinary night out, promotion at work, or your birthday, one day you will need to order a beer. Beer comes in two traditional sizes: big one (veľké) which is 0.5 litre and small one (malé) which is 0.3 litre. Guys rarely order a small one (just fyi, so be careful when ordering).

5. Na zdravie [na zdravye] | Cheers! / Bless you!

This is one of the first things you learn right after you learn to order a beer. You will hear it everywhere when you try to socialize. Every time you have drinks with someone, and it may be even a soft drink like our traditional wannabe Coca-Cola called Kofola. This common phrase is accompanied with toasting glasses against each other: first with top of the glass, then bottom, and then one more slam against table and you’re good to drink your beer.

Na zdravie is also phrase that we use when someone sneezes.

6. Dobrú chuť [dobroo hut] | Enjoy your meal

Wishing someone bon appetit when he/she is eating is something you can learn from any conversation book or tourist guide. But what do you reply? There are few options ready for this situation. One of them is replying with the same phrase — “dobrú chuť.” The other one is “podobne.” Its meaning is “Same to you,” however, it literally means similarly. You can also say “ďakujem, aj tebe” — meaning, “Thank you, to you too.”

7. Prosím [proseem]

The most universal word in the world! Prosím means please. It also means here you are. It means shock. It means you’re welcome. It means I want. It means asking for a favour. It means WTF. It means basically everything that bitte means in German.

8. Fakt [fucked] | Really?!

All foreigners think Slovaks swear a lot because they hear the word ‘fakt‘ pronounced as English ‘fucked’ everywhere they go. So what’s the matter with us Slovaks? Fakt means ‘really’ in a matter of a shock, as in “Really?!” or “Are you serious?!” Slovaks just use fakt.

Once I was travelling with my friend and her English fiance in my car and we were talking about something in Slovak and every other word we used was fakt. After five minutes, her fiancé shyly asked “Excuse me, but what does fakt mean?”

9. Four levels of Slovak love

Slovaks express their love or affection toward anything in four levels:

    1. Páčiš sa mi [paatshish sa me]: related to something you encountered for the first time, “I like (how) you (look).”
    2. Mám ťa rád [maam tya raad]: related to something you already experienced or saw before and enjoyed it. You can like your friend, you can like thai food, you can like pink color.
    3. Ľúbim ťa [lyoobim tya]: first level of “I love you.” You can love your parents, or your boyfriend/girlfriend, your family, your friends.
    4. Milujem ťa [miluyem tya]: the higher level of loving someone or something (close to adoring) and this is usually used for long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, or husband and wife.
10. Ja som s tebou husi nepásol [ya som styebow hoosi nyepaasol]

If you need to put someone in their place, this phrase is ideal. It literally means, “I haven’t herded geese with you,” meaning, you might be a shepherd, but I’m the boss here. Parents use this phrase on their kids when kids get too rude.

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