Czech/Alphabet and Pronunciation

Czech alphabet consists of 42 normal Latin letters, some have an accent:

  • All vowels can be either short (aeiouy), or long with acute (čárka) (áéíóúůý). (This can denote a different word.)
  • The only difference between Ú and Ů is that Ú is used only at the beginning of a word (or a part of a word like: triangle = trojúhelník).
  • There are also "softened" versions of the letters D E N R S T Z, with a hook (háček): ˇ
  • The accents lengthen the vowels, but they do not imply stress. Stress is almost always on the first syllable. The same rules also apply in Slovak.

A Á B C Č D Ď E É Ě F G H Ch I Í J K L M N Ň O Ó P Q R Ř S Š T Ť U Ú Ů V W X Y Ý Z Ž

Stuck with Ď or Ť? Listen to this recording for help.
Stuck with Ř? Listen to this recording for help.

Note: Except for foreign words, the letters F G Ó Q W and X are almost never used .

Most of the letters are spelled similar way as in German. Note:

  • Ch is pronounced as "kh" and considered as one letter
  • C like in the 'zz' in pizza or German 'z' as in 'Zimmer'
  • Ď like between 'dz' and 'j' (/d͡ʑ/ or /ɟ/) or Polish 'dź'
  • E and G like in "beggar"
  • H like in "head"
  • J like the 'y' in "yeah"
  • Ň like in "menu" or the Spanish 'señor'
  • R somewhat harder than in English, a bit like in Spanish "arriba" initially and rolled in the middle of a word.
  • Ť like between 'ts' and 'ch' (/t͡ɕ/ or /c/) or Polish 'ć'

The pronunciation rarely changes depending on the position, except for:

  1. D, N, T are pronounced as Ď, Ň, Ť before I, Í, or Ě
    Note: This is the only reason why Ě is used. The letter itself is pronounced as E.
    Not quite true, consider following example: "válka měla mnoho obětí" and "těšila se domů na jeho objetí..." etc.
  2. Czech has word-final devoicing of consonants. This means that in speech, voiced consonants are pronounced as their voiceless counterparts: D → T, Ď → Ť, H → Ch, G → K, V → F, B → P, Z → S, Ž → Š.

Other notes:

  1. Y and Ý are mostly used to avoid palatizing the preceding consonant where I or Í would palatize the preceding consonant: dy is pronounced /dɪ/

Now you know almost everything. You can go to the Czech pronunciation page and hear it.