Sign, sign, everywhere a sign!
Signage is essential to letting us know where we should go, where we shouldn’t go, how to find what we need and so much more. But, what do you do when you don’t speak the language that the sign is in and it comes with no graphics, or unfamiliar graphics, to guide you?
You can only guess at it and hope you don’t find yourself in violation of the sign.
This permanent page is to help familiarize you with some of the more common and important words and phrases that you can see on Czech signs. I may update it from time to time, so check back occasionally.
Keeping Safe and Out of Trouble
It’s always good to know when you’re not allowed to do something or if you should beware of something; if you see a sign that contains a form of the word “Zákaz” or “Pozor”, you are being warned.
Zákaz – Forbidden/Banned
A sign with this word in it is letting you know something isn’t permitted. It’s a very strong directive that could have legal repercussions if not obeyed. Here’s a few quite common examples of “Zákaz” sign phrasing:
“Zákaz Vstupu” or “Vstup zakázán” – No Entry/Keep out
“zákaz kouření” or “nekuřácký” – No Smoking
“Zákaz vstupu psů” – No Dogs
“Zákaz parkování” – No Parking (Anytime)
“Zákaz stání” – No Parking (Waiting)
Pozor – Caution/Beware
Anywhere you see a sign with this word on it, you are in the vicinity of a life threatening or injurious situation. Here’s a few common examples of “Pozor” signage phrases:
“Pozor na Krádeže” – Beware of Thieves/Pickpockets
“Pozor Tramvaj” – Watch for Trams
“Pozor schod” – Mind the Step
“pozor čerstvě natřeno” – Caution, Wet Paint
“Pozor vjezd” – Keep Clear
“Pozor vlak” – Watch for Trains
“Pozor pes” – Beware of Dog
The Leaning Stick
This peculiar mode of signage, common across the Czech Republic, can be directly interpreted as “Beware of Falling Objects”.
It’s most typically seen propped up against buildings in early spring, when snow and ice on the roof is melting and sliding off. It’s also a typical indicator that work is being done on the roof.
If you see a leaning stick, you might want to switch sides of the street or walk as far around it as space allows. I can tell you from personal experience that getting a shower of cold, slushy snow or the grainy ashes of a welder’s torch work on your head is not pleasant.
Since the 2014-2015 timeframe, I’ve seen more leaning sticks accompanied by explanatory signange and plastic barrier tape. However, the explanatory signs are only in Czech. The stick itself remains the core of the message.
Soukromý – Private
On its own, this word is not a warning. However, it is a good word to know as it will explain why you can’t enter a building or area.
The word can also help you if you’re looking for accommodation as it can be used in advertisements to define the featured space as one for private use. The phrase: “ubytování v soukromí” translates into “private accommodation”.