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September 25, 2009

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Even among Czech villages, Jakub is pretty small. (So small it was recently absorbed by adjacent Církvice, but this distinction is purely administrative.) The Czech word for village is vesnice. To signify a little village, you use -ček: vesníček. You can imply something even smaller by throwing in another syllable, the infix -čí: vesníčíček. To make it positively tiny you can add another -čí: vesníčíčíček. For comic effect you can repeat -čí indefinitely until the word is so big there is no room for the object and you need a microscope to see it: vesníčíčíčíčíčíčíčíčíčíčíček. But that's ridiculous. Village boundaries are clearly defined and between them lies not sprawl but agriculture. Since there is no restaurant in Jakub, Sarah and I rode dirt roads to nearby Nové Dvory, a bigger village which the locals jokingly call New Dvork City. And like many New Yorkers, some New Dvorkers look on those from smaller places with scorn or pity. Our neighbor's son attends the consolidated middle school in Nové Dvory, where he is teased for being from "the country" even though in both places when the breeze is right you can smell the manure in the fields.