Lost In Translation (and in the Postal System)
December 27, 2007 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Are there any Czech speakers out there who can help me track down the recipients of this Christmas present?

Sadly, a Christmas package that a friend mailed to me got damaged, and the contents must have spilled out. The postal service re-packaged things to try and deliver them to their final destination, but things must have gotten mixed up in the process, and I ended up with someone else's gift, and someone else must have ended up with mine. (I'm a little brokenhearted about this, but I'll deal.)

I'd like to track down the intended recipient and get this gift to them. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot to go on aside from three enclosed Christmas cards. The handwriting is in a spider-y, frail cursive style that leads me to believe the gift is from a Grandmother, but I could be wrong. Googling the words on the envelopes, I've come to conclude that the language is Czech. Unfortunately, my further research using an online translator has left me stumped.

What I'd like to figure out is, are these words first names or surnames? The fragile handwriting is so tricky to read, and when I type the words into the translator, they don't translate, so I must be reading it wrong.

The first card reads: "Pepicka a Jenda" on the envelope (two kids' names? Pepicka and Jenda?" The translator returns "Jenda" as "Jack", so maybe a boy's name?).

The second card reads: "Pan (or "Pom" or "Pam") a Pani Jaroslav a Damuska Osecki" (maybe the last name is Osecki? A Google search turned up some people with that as a last name.)

The third card reads: "Pepicka Kalusova" (which also seems to be a last name, as far as Google reveals, but alas, no signs of someone with that full name).

I'm pretty stumped, and am starting to think maybe trying to find these people is ridiculous after all...
posted by polyester.lumberjack to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apart from Pan (which means Mr.) and Pani (which means Mrs.), the rest do seem to be names.
posted by TheRaven at 4:22 PM on December 27, 2007

I think it's cool you are trying to help, unfortunately I never learned much Czech, but if no one here can help I can get it from a Czech student/friend...as a last resort for you. That is if it is, indeed, Czech or something close. A Polish speaker for example should be able to decipher Czech and vice versa.
posted by dawson at 4:28 PM on December 27, 2007

I recommend scanning them in high detail and posting the images up on flickr, create a throwaway gmail account for this, and put the story up on digg, craigslist, and other such places. Hopefully someone will be able to identify the people involved.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2007

Mrs. Procrastination grew up speaking Czech, so I showed this to her.

For the first card, she believes "Pepicka" is a nickname for Josef. But in Czech you change the endings (or decline) nouns to match the gender of the person and to reflect the preposition in the sentence. So in this case the ending matches the preposition "for", which is apparently missing and would read "pro" if it were present.

For the second card, "Pan a Pani Jaroslav " is definitely Mr and Mrs Jaroslav. "Damuska" is the diminutive of a name, but she doesn't know what name. "Osecki" is a plausible last name, but she has never heard it.

In the third card, there seems to be an error. "Pepicka" again is a male nickname, but the last name "Kalusova" is a woman's last name, since the last name changes with gender.

Mrs. Procrastination will ask her mother, a native speaker who grew up in Czechoslovakia back in the day when she talks to her later. If she can tell us more, we will post later. If there is more text and you can post images, perhaps we can help more.

Good luck, this looks like a tough one.
posted by procrastination at 4:55 PM on December 27, 2007

Yep, those are all names. Any hints of an address at all? Any means to one up based on the names?
posted by piratebowling at 6:08 PM on December 27, 2007

If the mail is sorted somewhat locally, and if that means you're in Washington state (just a guess, based on your previous answers), you might want to try the J. Osecki listed on Zabasearch.com. S/he lives in Sumas, WA.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:48 AM on December 28, 2007

Pepicka a Jenda- Pepicka is a girls name- Josephina- female name and, Jenda is a diminutive of Jan, a boys name

"Pan (or "Pom" or "Pam") a Pani Jaroslav a Damuska Osecki" Probably Danuscka (Dana) so it'd be Mr and Mrs Jaroslav and Dana Osecki

The third card reads: "Pepicka Kalusova"- Pepicka as above, demographically likely to be an older woman. Given the card to the boy and girl and the third one having the same name as 1st girl I'd guess a Grandmother in number 3 and the granddaughter named after her in number 1.

Translations by my wife who is Czech, wild conjectures by myself who is often wrong.
posted by Gratishades at 4:02 AM on December 28, 2007

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