Lesson 2 Dialog: He is hungry

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Now that you’ve made some new friends, it’s time to go out and grab something to eat.

V hoteli (in the hotel)
Mišo: Michael, ste hladný?
You: Yes, I am hungry. A vy?
Mišo: Ja som tiež hladný. A čo ty, Lucia?
Lucia: Nie, ja nie som hladná. Ja som smädná. Poďme!

Na ulici (on the street)
Lucia: Tu je Stará Radnica.
You: Oh yes, here is the Old Town Hall. It is pretty.
Lucia: Áno, je pekná. Je aj stará.
You: That’s right. It says here that the tower dates back to the 13th century.

V reštauracií (in the restaurant)
Mišo: Prosím si bryndzové halušky a jedno pivo.
You: That sounds good! I will also have bryndzové halušky and a beer.
Waiter: A vám?
Lucia: Dám si kapustnicu a Kofolu.

Pár minút neskôr (few minutes later)
You: How is your meal?
Mišo: Bryndzové halušky sú výborné. A kapustnica?
Lucia: Kapustnica je tiež dobrá.
You: And how is your beer?
Mišo: Pivo je skvelé! Je studené.
You: A Kofola?
Lucia: Kofola je vždy super!

The dialog, dissected:

Time to go out and sample the excellent Slovak cuisine. Along the way, let’s learn how to describe things using adjectives. After this lesson, you should be ready to make simple dialogs and order your first meal, in Slovak!

The conversation starts with Mišo asking you ste hladný? (are you hungry?). This is the short form of vy ste hladný? As you learned in the previous lesson, ste is the form of the verb to be used with the plural you which is used when addressing somebody formally. You will see that the pronoun is typically omitted. There really is no need for it – you can figure out what you are referring to from the form of the verb. Often when it is used it is done to emphasize the subject.

Good that Mišo asked because you are hungry! Turns out, so is he. Ja som tiež hladný means I am also hungry. This sentence should be quite familiar. It is very similar to the sentences you studied in the previous dialog. He then asks his friend, Lucia: a čo ty? is and what (about) you?. Turns out she is not hungry (hladná), but she is thirsty (smädná). Let’s go! (poďme!)

On your way to the restaurant, you pass by the Old Town Hall, one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava. Tu je Stará Radnica means here is the Old Town Hall. One thing to note is that in Slovak, we don’t have any articles. So tu je Stará Radnica translates directly as here is Old Townhall. Lucia agrees that it is pretty, áno, je pekná (yes, (she) is pretty). She also tells you that it is also old: je aj stará ((she) is also old). Notice that again the pronouns are skipped. And notice those pesky genders! A town hall is feminine? Who would have though?

You finally made it to the restaurant. Mišo goes for a real Slovak dinner: bryndzové halušky with beer. Prosím si means I would like. This phrase comes from ja si prosím, I (for self) beg/ask. This is how you ask for just about anything in Slovakia. Just substitute the noun with whatever it is that you want. In this case, you order the bryndza dumplings and jedno pivo (one beer). They go really well together! The waiter then asks Lucia what would she like. A vám? means and (for) you?. I guess Lucia changed her mind, and orders something to eat, the sauerkraut soup, kapustnica. She also orders Kofola. Dám si means I’ll have.

What on earth is Kofola? The short answer is that it is the most amazing soda ever! One of the side effects of Czechoslovakia becoming a communist country after World War II was that trade with “the West” became severely restricted. This doesn’t mean that there were food shortages. At least I have never experienced grocery stores not having food during my lifetime. But the selection was limited to brands made either locally or imported from other Soviet block countries. As such, there was no Coke. Instead, we had the local alternative, Kofola. It tastes nothing like coke, but I love it! It is also the cheapest drink you can order in a restaurant, cheaper than beer and much cheaper than water (which is typically more expensive than beer!). Western items like Coke were actually available, but only in special stores called “Tuzex”. These stores were built so that government officials who frequently traveled oversees could continue buying the goodies they may have come accustomed to on their trips. To prevent locals from getting hooked on Swiss chocolate, you couldn’t use regular money in these stores. Instead, you had to use something called “bony”. But, there was always a supply of shady characters hanging outside these stores more than willing to trade your Czechoslovak crowns for bony. This is for instance how my mom bought me Legos for Christmas, even though Lego was not available in regular stores.

Alright your meal came out. Mišo says his bryndza dumplings are great (výborné). And what about Lucia’s kapustnica? It is also good (dobrá). And the beer? It is also excellent (skvelé). (It) is cold, (ono) je studené. Note that pivo is neuter. And Kofola? Kofola is always amazing (kofola je vždy super)!