Friday, June 19, 2009

A loan is a loan is a loan?

Not in Slovakia, according to my wife, who is a lawyer (like me - imagine the dinner table conversation!). There is actually a big difference between pôžička and výpožička.

Suppose I borrowed €100 (SKK 3012.60!). I would expect to have to pay the money back, but in whatever notes came to hand at the time - I wouldn't expect to have to hand over the exact same notes I received in the first place. That's pôžička - a loan where you have to return the same type of asset to the same value, but not the exact same physical item.

But if I hired a Škoda Octavia to go for a drive in the Tatras, the car hire company would not be very chuffed if I returned a different car, even if it was also a Škoda Octavia - they would expect the exact same car. This kind of loan is a výpožička.

According to this article in TREND, the Slovak equivalent of the Economist, not many Slovaks know about the difference. So next time you're in Slovakia, you can confidently stride into the nearest autopožičovňa (car hire) place and point out that they should actually be advertising autovypožičovňa.

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