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Observations on transport and language

July 11, 2011

Before I even got to Prague last week, I had a clue that there may be a few similarities between Russian, Ukrainian, and Czech (Cyrillic alphabet or no). The first indicator I got was when those of us on the transport from Vienna to Prague were on the bus on the tarmac to reach the plane.

On my itinerary, it said “DEHAVILLAND DASH 8-400(TURBOPROP) Turboprop” as the airplane on which we were to travel from Vienna to Prague, so when we got on the tarmac and I saw that indeed, it was a prop jet, I was not surprised. However, apparently not everyone had access to this information (or did not pay attention) because I heard someone ask whether that was OUR airplane…now I knew it was not Russian or Ukrainian she was speaking, but knew what she was asking, so I smiled and nodded.

I had never before flown on a prop jet, but knew a couple of things – they don’t fly as high as larger jets and they may provide a bit of a bumpy ride. Well, that was putting it mildly…it was very bumpy. This is not usually a problem with me, since I am used to bumpy, having ridden Ukrainian public transport (marshrutka, bus, train,metro) for the past year-plus. But since we also had altitude to add, and I was trying to read, even I had to put down the book a couple of times and take a deep breath.

So, even though that experience was not on my “bucket list”, I can now say I have done it. Twice, because the airplane from Prague to Vienna was the same thing.

Jen’s directions to me upon arriving in Prague involved riding a bus, then a metro, then a tram. And while on the tram, I could not help but think how Prague really has this public transport thing down. There are few places in the city that are not reached by any of these three methods, and many which are reached by all.

Now, perhaps it is because it is such a large, international, and “destination” city but little more than 20 years ago this was not the case (to be fair, the Metro is clearly older than that). For whatever reason, Prague is a city that others can use as a model for public transport (get that, U.S. cities??).

While in Prague, I noticed more similarities between the languages. Knowing some Ukrainian and some Russian helped greatly because some of the words are similar to Ukrainian and others to Russian. Imagine how well I would have done if I only knew more of both!

While we were there I heard no fewer than ten languages:

  • Czech
  • English
  • Russian
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Dutch
  • Belorussian (I think – because it was not quite Russian and not Czech or Ukrainian). Maybe it was Polish…
  • Swedish

And I am sure there are many other languages that were spoken that I did not hear…

However, I do have to say that I actually got TIRED of hearing English spoken, especially when it was from people who were in a very large tour group! I guess that is the danger of going to such a popular destination – you run into tour groups EVERYWHERE! Even when Jen and I went up behind the German embassy, through a hidden park, to get a photo of a sculpture in the embassy lawn, we ran into Americans! Sheesh!

So my photos, tried as I did to eliminate people (unless it was a shot OF a person) have “extras” in them (sometimes, though rarely, on purpose)…ah well…

On another note…I met someone last night who, having just arrived from Vancouver, Canada, remarked that when you travel, it seems that all you do is spend your time waiting. You wait to check in, wait to get through security, wait to board the plane, wait to de-board the plane, wait while people get on the transport bus, wait to get through Passport Control, wait for your luggage, wait for more transport, wait in line to get tickets to more transport, wait for that transport…that’s a whole lot of waiting he has been doing!

And so it is…on to the next activity…

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