My students may hate me for it, but whenever possible I force them to use real paper dictionaries.
Why? I believe that phone dictionaries are cold, unfeeling devices that don’t care if you use the precise word – they don’t even have the emotional range of a teaspoon (thanks JK Rowling for an amazing Hermione phrase that I have never ever forgotten).
Exhibit A: All I Wanted Was Some Juice
Just so you know, the only thing šťáva [“shtyavuh” for the Americans ;)] means is juice. I have NO idea how all these other, completely unrelated things got in there.
Can you imagine how confusing it must be, if all you want is a cold, refreshing glass of orange juice, but you can never be sure if it’s actually orange juice – it might be orange CONDITION or even ORANGE SQUASH!!
Exhibit B. Oh. My. God. (Friends clip)
You want to learn how to express shock and exasperation in Czech (or understand Czechs doing so… which they do a lot… I spend a lot of time around teachers)? Learn the phrase panebože, which I would translate as “Oh my god.”
Real talk, dictionary. “Gawd” is only for annoying teenagers (including my 13-year old self), people who can’t spell, or people without teeth. Only people wearing pearls can say “Goodness,” and the last time someone said “Goodness gracious” was in approximately 1947.
Exhibit C: Not all Easter babies are created equal
It’s Easter-time and you’re looking for some Peeps (not that you’ll find them in CZ, but no matter!). How do you say chick?
If you ask for kuřátko (as in sněhová, or snowy), you’ll get this wonderful, whipped egg white-filled treat for coffee. So that’ll work.
But what won’t work is zajíc (hare), or zajíček (the diminutive form, like bunny).
Two totally different animals!
Don’t be a fool! Remember: Always take your phone dictionary with a grain of salt.