CZECHIA : is this name really so big problem for English speakers ?

Czechia with frame2

Czechia [ˈtʃɛki.ə] is a landlocked country in Central Europe, consisting of three historical lands, Bohemia (Čechy), Moravia (Morava) and Czech Silesia (Slezsko). The country is bordered by Germany to the west and northwest, Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east and Austria to the south. Czechia is the English short-form and geographical name of the Czech Republic. The name was registered by the United Nations and included in the UNO Gazetteers of Geographical Names in the beginning of the modern Czech state in 1993.The name “Czech Republic”, is the administratively-political name of contemporary state, while “Czechia,” is the denomination for the geographical and settlement-historical unit, which is independent of actual political regimes and is therefore from this point of view neutral, enabling to be used for denomination of the state with more than 1200 years old tradition in any historical consequencies.

The traditional name of the country in English was Bohemia, that came from the Latin denomination of the territory, settled before Czech tribes (called by their leader Čech) came into the country in the 6th century AD by Celtic tribes Boii. That name persisted for centuries, because of former higher hierarchical status of Bohemian part of the country (Kingdom of Bohemia / The Moravian Margraviate / The Principality of Silesia). Also, the Czech people and their language were for centuries called “Bohemian” in English. But, during the rise of national revival in the 19th century did the derivative of the Czech endonym (using antiquated Czech) appear in English to distinguish between Czech- and German-speaking ethnicities living in the country that time. The first evidence of the name of the country, containing the same verbal basis – Czechia – using by English speakers comes from 1866, being identical with original Latin appellation, which has appeared from the first half of the 17th century. The name was also commonly used in United States in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century during existence of conjoint state of Czechs and Slovaks „Czechoslovakia“ for denomination of the Czech part of the state and in historical meaning, e.g.in well known newspapers, such as the New York Times or Herald Tribune.

Thus, the name Czechia has its tradition also in English. Also political representation of anglophone countries expressed the consent with the name in the beginning of the modern Czech state.

So, where is the problem ? In other languages, the equivalent of „Czechia“ is used, so, why does English have to be so limited ? Perhaps, is it so hard to learn read it properly if everybody knows how to read Czech ? Or, is this name so strange for English speakers, however they are commonly using many other names, which sound much more weird in their language ? What about Illinois, Lithuania, Massachusetts, Saskatchewan, Utah, Chad, Ghana, Idaho, Zimbabwe and many others. We miss using the standard name of our country in English. Our country is not only the republic, that has been existed since 1993, but also the country of our ancestors. Why some people call our country „Czech“, why such a nonsense ? It is adjective, the name of inhabitant and language, but surely not of the country. Do English speakers use French for France, Japanese for Japan, British for Britain or Australian for Australia ? I do not think so. Or, is it some kind of uneducated simplification of „the Czech Republic“ ? Am I a Czech from Czech ? Terrible. Absolutely not !

Simply, the “Czech Republic” is not enough to denominate our country. The great Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, inter alia the founder of American classical music in the end of the 19th century, was not from the Czech Republic, because such a state did not exist that time, but he can be from Czechia without fail. Czechia is the correct name and not so hard to learn it, then, I do not see any problem in using it by English speakers.

Vladimír Hirsch

If you like this article you might like also Facebook page of Civic initiative Czechia https://www.facebook.com/pages/Czechia/183105765093521

More information about the issue you can find here: http://czechia-initiative.com/

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5 responses to “CZECHIA : is this name really so big problem for English speakers ?

  1. Thank you for such a consistant article – this reasoning must be clear to everyone who wants to listen and think. And we – Czechs -should realy care a lot how is our land called and named – who else should do than us?!

  2. Thank you for the informative article. I think many English-speakers are just uninformed about use of “Czechia”, though I have no idea why some would refer to your country as simply “Czech”. It is a beautiful country, nonetheless, and hope I am able to see more parts outside of Prague one day.

    • Thank you for the comment. You are right and I realise it is predominantly the result of insufficient information. In this direction, main negative role play our government and embassies, which use almost solely the political name of the country. Because of natural need to use normal name people sometimes simplify it as “Czech”. My article is a kind of reaction to opinions i already read on English blogs, where some of English speakers know the name, but express unwillingness to use it from various strange reasons.

  3. You make very good points in favour of your argument.

    I will say, as a native English speaker who lives in Moravia, that “Czechia” bothers me a little bit because it does have a distinctly exclusive feel that shows favour to the western section of the country. Though perhaps that’s simply close to a decade of living around Moravians that’s conditioned me to think that way. I do realize that the average foreigner who comes here for a holiday likely won’t be aware of the differences.

    What really drives me crazy though is native English speakers that I know who still call the country “Czechoslovakia”! I can’t believe that after around two decades since the Velvet Divorce people anywhere could still be that uninformed.

  4. If we would speak about Czechia as some expression of alleged favour of western part of the country (which is an artificial problem for me, because all of historical lands are Czech lands, speaking Czech and It is a reminiscence of Great Moravia, a predecessor of the Czech state.) the political name does not solve that quasi-problem as well. And, I can say only a small part of Moravians feel it that way, it is more likely problem of some separatistic club.

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