Mysteries of Czech language: K(e)rmit

(Part of an ongoing series. Previous installments begin here).

There’s a verb ‘krmit’ in Czech that describes the act of feeding an animal, small human or very old human (basically, anyone who can’t feed themselves). Czech is a very precise language in that there are often these highly specific verbs to differentiate between slightly different activities (feeding somebody else vs. feeding oneself, taking someone somewhere by car vs. taking someone somewhere by foot, and so forth). The pronunciation is phonetic: just say ‘Kermit’, but try to stifle the ‘e’ as much as possible. It helps if you smoosh your chin into your chest to constrict your throat and sort of gurgle the word out. Czech language is full of these consonant clusters– you can in fact say ‘fart, death, burp’ without using a single vowel.

I had a hard time convincing my wife that ‘Kermit’ is actually a real name in the native English-speaking world and that I wasn’t just pulling her leg. I think this might be the worst-conceived name to give a Czech kid, narrowly surpassing ‘Brezhnev’, ‘Khrushchev’ and ‘George W.’.

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