Monday, January 12, 2009

Now that the first working week of the new year is over, I think it is safe to say that Slovakia's transition to the new currency is going very well. I was a little late on board, making my first official euro purchase on Thursday (shoelaces, € 0.83) and making the first ATM withdrawal on Friday (€ 40), but even though I am arithmetically challenged, so far so good.

Unlike other nations - such as Malta - we were fortunate enough to avoid major linguistic issues associated with the adoption of the euro, but there are still some minor changes to consider. I, for one, rejoice at the thought of never having to decide again whether I should translate "slovenská koruna" as "Slovak crown" (which seems to have been the preferred form) or "Slovak koruna" (which sounds better to me). But that's just a minor point. As some, including this report in Pravda and this one in SME (originally by the Czech press agency ČTK), have pointed out, the real story is the changes which euro will mean for the slang terms for amounts, coins and banknotes:

desiatka/desík/desina = 10 (note the typical Bratislava suffix -ina normally used in standard Slovak to form fractions)
dvacka = 20 (but not dvacina)
pajdík = 50 (another typical Bratislava / Western Slovak formation)
kilo = 100
pětikilo = 500
liter = 1000
melón = 1 000 000 (melón also meaning, of course, "melon", especially "water melon")

But just what kind of changes should we expect? According to the Pravda editorial,

Slangové označenia peňazí ako desík, kilo, liter či melón odídu s korunou do zabudnutia. ... Liter stratí s eurom zmysel úplne. Tisíceurová bankovka totiž neexistuje, najvyššie papierové euro má hodnotu 500.

Slang terms designating money like desík, kilo, liter or melón will become obsolete. With the adoption of the euro, liter will vanish completely. There is no € 1000 note, the highest demonination is € 500.

Really? Does that mean that we will no longer count money in tens, hundreds, thousands or millions? I guess it would be absolutely futile to try to explain to a journalist that one single word can be used for an object, like a banknote, as well as a concept, like an amount. Martin Považaj, a linguist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences, did try to do so when talking to ČTK with questionable results:

"Je však možné, že niektoré z týchto slov zostanú, ale nadobudnú novú významovú náplň, to znamená, že číselná hodnota skrývajúca sa za týmito slovami zostane, ale bude sa už vzťahovať na eurá[.]"

"It is possible that some of these words will stay with us, but will acquire a new meaning, that is the numerical value behind the words will remain, but will refer to amounts in euro."

So according to Dr. Považaj, it is merely possible that with a change in extralinguistic reality, the language will follow suit. Whereas according to anybody else with a bit of understanding of language, it is, how should I put it, pretty fucking certain.
And then the author of the report helpfully adds:

Znamenalo by to, že tieto výrazy by vyjadrovali 30-krát väčšiu hodnotu, kilo by tak už napríklad nebolo 100 Sk (3,32 eura), ale sto eur (3013 Sk).

This would mean that these terms would be used for amounts 30 times higher that before, thus kilo would not mean 100 Sk (3.32 euro), but hundred euro (3013 Sk).

The fact that this needs to be spelled out astonishes me. I'm quite certain that this - together with Dr. Považaj's explanation above - is a statement to the view of Slovak as something rigid and immutable so prevalent in our society. If you want another example, just try the very next paragraph:

Slová ako päťeurovka alebo stoeurovka sa doteraz do slovníkov slovenského jazyka nedostali, podľa jazykovedcov sú však spisovné a využívajú sa v hovorovej neoficiálnej komunikácii.

Words like päťeurovka (5 € note) or stoeurovka (100 € note) have not yet been included in dictionaries of Slovak, but according to the linguists, these are standard terms which are used in spoken unofficial communication.

Two perfectly legit compounds made from two perfectly normal (and standard) words based on a long-used and perfectly standard terms (päťkorunáčka and stokorunáčka) and yet people still feel the need to ask the official body to please please pretty please validate their own words. This makes me glad we haven't had to deal with any serious linguistic issues. Although the following clusterfuck could have been pretty funny to watch...

And finally, there is the issue of the new slang term for euro. According to Mira Nábělková, a Czech linguist quoted by the SME/ČTK piece, terms like jurko, jurášky, juráše and juroše have been recorded on the internet, obviously combining the English pronunciation with Slovak suffixes. I can see why jurko (note the diminutive suffix -ko) would work, but since it happens to be the diminutive form of the name Juraj, I don't think it's very likely. As for jurášky, I only found one single occurrence, and that one insists it's a pronunciation used by speakers of English. There were a few ghits on juráše, but all of those were from websites in Czech and as for juroše, that one only appears in variations of this ČTK report. And to add one final insult, Dr. Nábělková immediately connects these imaginary slang terms for euro with Juraj Jánošík, i.e. the most stereotypical stereotype in the history of Slovak stereotypes. Even her other examples, the diminutives eurko (neuter), eurík (masculine) and eurka (feminine) seem fishy. A brief Google search quickly revealed that the feminine form is nothing of the kind, but rather Nominative plural of the neuter form (UPDATE: but only when written without diacritics, the proper plural form is eurká). Examples (the first three ghits):

1. ... na ktore mimochodom sa eurka uz vyfasovali ... (which, by the way, they already got euros for)
2. ... a nosi eurka za kazdy mliecny zubok ... (who brings euros for every milk tooth)
3. ... a ked majitelom Slovanu dojdu eurka ... (and when the proprietors of Slovan run out of euros)

From the final list of terms collected on the internet, eurčeky is another nonce formation, but euráče, euráky, euráčiky (another diminutive) and - much less common - euroše are in actual use with euráče being the most common, at least according to raw ghits (2460 vs. 116, 224 and 109). I guess only time will tell which one(s) will be left standing. But if you want to come back in a few months and find out, be sure not to rely on Pravda, SME or ČTK.


John Cowan said...

Well, I don't know. When the English decimalized their currency back in 1971, you'd have thought they'd keep the names shilling and florin for the 5p and 10p coins (those having the same value, and indeed the same size, as their non-decimal predecessors). But no, a generation later they are still locked into calling them /'faivpi/ and /'tEnpi/ respectively.

bulbul said...

Yeah, but AFAIK those single-use terms, used exclusively for money and just British money. Not so much for desina, kilo or liter, those are basically just numbers that can be used with any currency. If I decided to by that shiny new Palm Pre in the US, I will pay päť kíl in USD for it, if I buy it here, I will fork over štyri kilá in €. People who were making 60 litrov B€ now make 2 litre. No big deal. Except, of course, if someone asks me to lend them a pajdík, I will be even more wary than usual.
I will need to check what happened in Slovenia.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch hung on to ton (= 100,000), clarified sometimes in the transition as being a euroton or a guldenton, and various local slang terms were also maintained.

The Spanish seven years on still enumerate large sums in pesetas. Given the havoc ECB rates have inflicted on its economy, perhaps there's an element of prescience in that.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there might simply appear a total mismatch between the original and recent (post-euro)numerical values of spoken Slovak terms relating to currency: in Quebec French, to this day, a quarter coin (twenty-five cents) is often referred to as a "trente sous": this goes back to (British) pre-1858 currency, where a pound was divided into 120 pence, hence "quarter" = 30 pence.

Anonymous said...

Emphasis added:


So Western Slovak is even more western than I'd have thought?

BTW, my uncle knows people in Vienna who called the 100 Schilling bill Kilo (not the amount, just the bill). One wonders how old that term is.

And of course I confirm that most Austrians still think in Schilling. There probably aren't any French left who think in vieux Francs, though.

bulbul said...


a mismatch is very unlikely. As I said above, and perhaps should have emphasized in the post, all those terms are amounts, the only strange thing is that they are almost exclusively used when talking about money. The switch to euro does not involve any change in the way we count them of the type you describe or the one the Dutch had to deal with. In the past few days, I've heard people using pajdík, kilo and liter the same way they did before 1.1.2009, only now they refer to amounts in euro. No biggie.

So Western Slovak is even more western than I'd have thought?
There a nice dialect continuum with Czech, if that's what you mean. So 'five' is indeed 'pjet' in Western Slovak. As for the way I wrote it, well, 'pjetikilo' just don't look right :)

Anonymous said...

all those terms are amounts

Now that is strange.

a nice dialect continuum with Czech, if that's what you mean.

Yes, thanks.

Adrian said...

John: "Shilling" and "bob" both survived into the next generation. (I was born in 1966 and use(d) both.) "Florin" didn't, but I don't think it was ever used as much as the other two.

Panu said...

I can see why jurko (note the diminutive suffix -ko) would work, but since it happens to be the diminutive form of the name Juraj, I don't think it's very likely.

Why so? In Finnish, "eero" (the first name Eero) has wide currency as a slang term for euro.

Panu said...

has wide currency

Pun not originally intended.

Anonymous said...

David Marjanović -

Yes, there ARE still many French people who still think in Old Francs. I have friends who do, constantly when speaking of large amounts of money (property prices). First they say "x millions" and then they look at us and change it to "sous" and then we try to tell them what the Euro would be while they calculate on their fingers (they are very fast at it). These are not very old people. Barely 60.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected.

chris y said...

When I was in Brussels about five years ago, the toilet attendant at the station demanded change in centimes.

I agree with Adrian that the old English slang hung on for anybody who was over about 12 at the time of decimalisation. Oddly enough, 10 bob for 50p most of all, and that was a completely new coin (10 shillings was paper).

Radovan Garabík said...

I came to this discussion late, but neverthless... Mira Nábělková is not a Czech linguist, she is a Slovak one (well, depending on how you look at it, she is living and working in Prague, but that's about it...)

Unknown said...

kids jordans
louboutin shoes
celine outlet online
michael kors sale
coach outlet
jordan 11
prada sneakers
louboutin shoes
oakley sunglasses outlet
celine bags
red bottom shoes
hermes outlet online
fitflops sale clearance
nike clearance
polo ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet
hermes bags
longchamp sale
michael kors outlet online sale
cheap nfl
cheap coach handbags
ferragamo shoes
prada shoes
rolex watches
ugg factory outlet
coach purse
michael kors handbags
salomon shoes
jordan shoes
coach factory outlet
air jordan 6
kate spade purses
louboutin outlet
celine outlet
coach purses
coach factory
nike factory outlet
the north face outlet
north face outlet locations
wholesale jordan shoes
coach factory outlet
hermes birkin bag

Unknown said...

nba jerseys
cheap ray ban sunglasses
nike huarache
kansas city chiefs jerseys
buffalo bills jerseys
michael kors handbags
denver broncos jerseys
jordan shoes

琐事 said...

michael kors handbags
redskins jerseys
pandora jewelry
cheap jordan shoes
christian louboutin shoes
omega watches for sale
yeezy boost 350 white
seattle seahawks jerseys
ed hardy clothing
cheap nfl jerseys wholesale

Unknown said...

seattle seahawks jerseys
christian louboutin shoes
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
ugg boots
michael kors handbags
mont blanc pens
christian louboutin outlet
ralph lauren polo
canada goose outlet

chenmeinv0 said...

roshe run flyknit
cheap ugg boots
ugg australia
instyler max
adidas yeezy 350
ralph lauren
ralph lauren polo
adidas nmd runner
michael kors handbags
pittsburgh steelers jerseys

Jayden said...

WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Device settings, Contacts, Messages, And other Applications. Sports Cards App is a fast and easy way to create your own Sports Cards using your photos.

Caleb said...

This provides an interesting picture of what kind of Music or Apps are your favorite and how much it has cost you. downlodable keygens Great for police officers and anyone interested in Nebraska law.

eat after read said...

Wield acid, fire and lightning to exploit enemy weaknesses! downlodable warez - An engaging, dynamic drill which will help you recognize kana, learn their sounds with a native speaker, and track your progress.

Finley said...

You will start to find a rhythm when it comes to solving the levels. Welcome to my site. Facetouch HD Pro - Create funny and cool Booth pics for iPhone.

Unknown said...

This app teaches the thinking, organizing, and writing process of the five-paragraph SAT essay. downlodable freeware Fixed issued with letter 's' not moving correctly when spelling the word sun.

raybanoutlet001 said...

ugg boots
nike roshe
nike outlet
michael kors uk
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet online
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren uk
ugg outlet
omega watches sale

Unknown said...

To help you see how you are doing you can view the spending over a 26 week period by either: a) The Weeks view. Web page. As the Master of Mystery your only job is to answer Yes or No.

Unknown said...

Now only your wit and luck can help her unite with her parents. despre ingeri andrei plesu pdf Don't be bothered that it isn't free, it is well worth it.

millenium said...

From Marco Batista: Dos criadores de Quem Quer Milhes. canon xt rebel driver Use "iSpeak American English" and native speakers will guide you step by step.

Unknown said...

Oh, and there isn't a high score board so your high scores are wasted. Get it! Live streaming, highlights and condensed game video available ONLY to users located in the Province of British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.

AMELIA77 said...

Other than the shutdown function, CloseApp has no other features to add further substance to it. this site. "It's a bit hard for a man of my age and experience to come down to a job like piloting, on eight pound a month and my grub.

Unknown said...

You can preview your reminders with the music and image added. Compared to something like Audio HIjack Pro, for instance, this app can't even approach the features.

Unknown said...

Each stage contain 4 hints ,only one hint can be used per stage. At the heart of the mystery is a young woman whom Harding is certain he recognizes, even though they have never met before.

Unknown said...

Everyone will want to be where you are you using Numbered game. Each question is accompanied with an explanatory solution and exam tips and advice.

millenium said...

Warning: This plan is completely safe if used as instructed. Go to website. When you don't want to play with any instruments just relax with music!

AMELIA77 said...

Microsoft Group and Contact Management Sample for Office Communicator 2005 Purchase a horse and if it wins you win 100,000 per race it wins.

Rusram radjapov said...

But it can provide a great head start when access to scope time is limited. "Nothing beats the look in someones face when the wheel of death launches"

yanmaneee said...

yeezy 700
kyrie 5
paul george shoes
nike huarache
yeezy 500
adidas yeezy
jordan shoes
jordan retro
kobe 9
christian louboutin shoes

Unknown said...

you can check here best replica bags read what he said replica ysl handbags navigate to this web-site

Eddie said...

This post is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject matter. Highly recommended!