Czech by Numbers - "Number"

22-07-2006

Hello and welcome to Czech by Numbers, Radio Prague's own Czech language series in which we examine Czech numbers and their use in common speech. Today we will be looking at the word "number" itself in Czech.

The basic word for number is číslo. So for example, number five is číslo pět. A natural number in mathematics is then přirozené číslo. To refer to figures, Czechs use a similar word číslice or cifra, the latter being related to both the English words cipher and zero.

The Czech word for dial is derived from these words: you can hear either číselník or ciferník. The latter one can also be used in colloquial speech to refer to a human face.

The idiom v červených číslech means "in the red", that is spending more money than you earned. The opposite is v černých číslech - "in the black", earning more than you spend. Also derived from the word číslo is the verb vyčíslit - to quantify, to put a figure on something, for example a damage. And the adjective nevyčíslitelný means incalculable, for example an "incalculable loss" would be nevyčíslitelná ztráta.

The word for number in the sense of amount is počet, so a large number of people would be velký počet lidí. In the plural, it is počty, and the word used to mean maths at school. The adjective početný means numerous, and nespočetný is innumerable. The adverb bezpočtukrát means "countless times".

Which brings us to the verb to count - počítat. It means to calculate but also to assume, to consider. The Czech word for computer is also derived from that verb. A computer is počítač, not to be confused with the word počítadlo meaning abacus.

And that's all for today's lesson but we'll be back next time with some more useful Czech phrases. Till then bye-bye, na shledanou.

22-07-2006