Name of the Czech Republic

The name of the Czech Republic derives from the Slavic tribe of Czechs (Czech: Čechové). The Czech Kingdom (usually translated Kingdom of Bohemia) existed between 1085–1918 and ruled the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. After the split of the Habsburg Empire, of which the kingdom was a part since the seventeenth century, the new country Czechoslovakia was created by the union of the Czech lands and Slovakia.

After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in the so-called "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, the name "the Czech Republic" (Czech: Česká republika) was created[1] as the official long-form name.[2][3][4] The official[2][3] short-form Czech name for the Czech lands (i.e. Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia) is Česko.[2][5][6][7] While almost all languages adopted variants of Česko for the short-form name at this time, the English equivalent "Czechia"[2] /ˈɛki.ə/, though attested as early as 1841,[8] is rarely used in the English-speaking world.[9][10]

Czech-language name

The country is named after the Czechs (Czech: Čechové), a Slavic tribe residing in central Bohemia that subdued the surrounding tribes in the late 9th century and created the Czech/Bohemian state. The origin of the name of the tribe itself is unknown. According to legend, it comes from their leader Čech, who brought them to Bohemia. Research regards Čech as a derivative of the root čel- (member of the people, kinsman).[11]

Several variants of the name have been used over the centuries, due to the evolution of the Czech language. The digraph "cž" was used from the time of the 16th-century Bible of Kralice until the reform of 1842, being eventually replaced by "č" (changing Cžechy to Čechy). In the late 19th century the suffix for the names of countries changed from -y to -sko (e.g. Rakousy-Rakousko for Austria, Uhry-Uhersko for Hungary). While the notion of Česko appears for the first time in 1704, it only came into official use in 1918 as the first part of the name of the newly independent Czechoslovakia (Česko-Slovensko or Československo) . Within that state, the Czech Socialist Republic (Česká socialistická republika, ČSR)[5] was created on 1 January 1969.[12] On 6 March 1990 the Czech Socialist Republic was renamed the Czech Republic (Česká republika, ČR).[1] When Czechoslovakia broke up in 1993, the Czech part of the name was intended to serve as the name of the Czech state. The decision started a dispute as many perceived the "new" word Česko, which before had been only rarely used alone, as harsh sounding or as a remnant of Československo.[13] The older term Čechy was rejected by many because it was primarily associated with Bohemia proper and to use it for the whole country was seen as inappropriate. This feeling was especially prominent among the inhabitants of Moravia.

The use of the word "Česko" within the country itself has increased in recent years.[14] During the 1990s, "Česko" was rarely used and viewed as controversial: some Czech politicians and public figures (e.g. media magnate Vladimír Železný) expressed concern about the non-use of Česko and Czechia; on the other side, individuals such as president Václav Havel and minister Alexandr Vondra have strongly opposed using these forms. In 1997, the Civic initiative Czechia was formed by linguists and geographers in Brno to promote the use of Czechia.[15] The following year, a conference of professionals aimed at encouraging the use of the name was held at Charles University in Prague. The Czech Senate held a session on the issue in 2004.[16][17]

English-language name

The historical English name of the country is Bohemia. This name derives from the Celtic tribe of Boii, which inhabited the area from the 4th century BC. Boiohaemum, as it is known in Latin, comes from the Germanic “Boi-haima,” meaning "home of the Boii." The name survived all the following migrations affecting the area, including the arrival of the Slavs and the creation of the Czech state. In the 9th century, the country became officially known as the Duchy of Bohemia, changing to the Kingdom of Bohemia in the 11th century, and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown in the 14th century. The Bohemian state included the three historical Czech lands: Bohemia (Čechy) in narrower meaning, Moravia (Morava) and Czech Silesia (Slezsko). From the 14th century until 1635 it also included Upper and Lower Lusatia. In the early 17th Century, the English gentleman Fynes Moryson referred to the area as "Bohmerland" in his four volume published account of his tour of Europe.[18] The higher hierarchical status of the Bohemian region led to that name being used for the larger country, with the people and language of this land being commonly referred to as Bohemian. During the 19th century national revival, the English word "Czech" (using antiquated Czech or Polish spelling[19]) was adopted to distinguish between the Czech and German speaking peoples living in the country. The Latin form Czechia is attested as early as 1602[20] and was first used in English in 1841 (Poselkynie starych Przjbiehuw Czeskych - Messenger of the old Fates of Czechia).[8] Other early uses occurred in 1856[21] and in an 1866 report on the Austro-Prussian War.[22]

After the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the proclamation of the new Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918, there were proposals[23] to use the traditional name Bohemia for the newly formed state. After the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the name Czechia appeared in English, alongside the official name, as a reference to all the Czech lands[24] and as a differentiation between the Czech and Slovak parts of the state. The first written evidence comes from the article "Literary History of the Czechs", published on January 4, 1925, by The New York Times.[25] The name was commonly used in the Anglophone press until the German occupation of the Czech lands in 1939.[26][27][28]

Adoption of Czechia

With the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports recommended the use of the name Czechia,[29] but this has not been fully adopted by Czech authorities. In contrast to this lack of support, the British secretary for press and politics Giles Portman has shown a willingness to accept the name. Portman said: "Czechs still use the name Česká Republika rather than Česko, and the English equivalent, the Czech Republic, rather than Czechia. Were that pattern to change, we would have no problem at all with adapting accordingly. But we feel that the initiative for that change must come from the Czech side and not from us[.]"[30]

In 2013, Czech president Miloš Zeman recommended the wider official use of Czechia,[31] and on 14 April 2016, the country's political leadership agreed to make Czechia the official short name. The new name was approved by the Czech cabinet on 2 May 2016[32] as the Czech Republic's official short name and was published in the United Nations UNTERM and UNGEGN country name databases on 5 July 2016.[33] On 23 September 2016, the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names began advising Britons to use the name Czechia.[34] On 26 September 2016, the International Organization for Standardization included the short name Czechia in the official ISO 3166 country codes list.[35]

Other languages

The Czech short form "Česko" has parallels in the majority of other languages. In a few cases (Polish Czechy, Hungarian Csehország, and Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian and Slovene, Češka, Чешка and so on) this form had historically been used for Bohemia. Other languages adopted new short-forms such as Çekia in Albanian, 'Çexiya in Azerbaijani, Tschechien in German, Tsjechië in Dutch, Tsjekkia in Norwegian, Tjeckien in Swedish, Tjekkiet in Danish, Česko in Slovak, Чэхія (Čekhija) in Belarusian, Чехія (Chekhiya) in Ukrainian, Чехия (Chekhiya) in Russian and Bulgarian, Čekija in Lithuanian, Čehija in Latvian, Cehia in Romanian, Cechia in Italian, צ׳כיה (Tsh[e]kh[i]y[a]h) in Hebrew, تشيكيا (Tšīk[i]yā) in Arabic, Chéquia or Tchéquia in Portuguese, Chequia in Spanish (rarely used), Tchéquie in French (rarely used), Ċekja in Maltese, Tšekki in Finnish, Tšehhi in Estonian, Τσεχία (Tsechia) in Greek, ჩეხეთი (Chekheti) in Georgian, Չեխիա (Chekhia) in Armenian, Çekya in Turkish, チェコ (Cheko) in Japanese, 체코 (Cheko) in Korean and 捷克 (Jiékè in Mandarin) in Chinese.

See also


  1. 1 2 Ústavní zákon České národní rady č. 53/1990 Sb. o změně názvu České socialistické republiky.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Pavel Boháč, Jaroslav Kolář (1993): Jména států a jejich územních částí = Names of states and their territorial parts. Český úřad zeměměřický a katastrální, Praha.
  3. 1 2 UNGEGN World Geographical Names
  4. Ústava České republiky ze dne 16. prosince 1992 - ústavní zákon č. 1/1993 Sb. ve znění ústavního zákona č. 347/1997 Sb., 300/2000 Sb., 448/2001 Sb., 395/2001 Sb., 515/2002 Sb., 319/2009 Sb., 71/2012 Sb. a 98/2013 Sb.
  5. 1 2 Miloslava Knappová: Česko = Česká socialistická republika. Naše řeč, ročník 66 (1983), číslo 4.
  6. Česko (archivovaná verze z 9. března 2013), Na co se nás často ptáte, Jazyková poradna, Ústav pro jazyk český AV ČR, Středisko společných činností AV ČR, nedatováno
  7. Česko, heslo v Internetové jazykové příručce, 2008–2014 Ústav pro jazyk český AV ČR, naposledy změněno 8. ledna 2012
  8. 1 2 Hugh James Rose (1841): A New General Biographical Dictionary, Vol. III, BAH-BEE.
  9. Fallows, James. 2016. A Scandal in Czechia. The Atlantic (April 22).
  10. Bardsley, Daniel (October 16, 2013). "Czech out the proposed name". The Prague Post.
  11. Spal, Jaromír (1953). "Původ jména Čech" [Origin of the name Čech]. Naše řeč (Our Speech) (in Czech). The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. 36 (9-10): 263–267. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  12. Ústavní zákon č. 143/1968 Sb. ze dne 27. října 1968 o československé federaci
  13. Looking for a name – Radio Prague (2011-01-21). Retrieved on 2011-01-27.
  14. According to the official Czech list of country names (Jména států a jejich územních částí. Český úřad zeměměřický a katastralní, Praha 2009, ISBN 978-80-86918-57-0): Česko je kodifikovaný jednoslovný název státu, který se podle ústavy oficiálně nazývá Česká republika ("Česko is a standardized one-word name of the state, which is officially named Česká republika according to its constitution")
  15. Official pages
  16. Pozvánka na 7. veřejné slyšení Senátu - 11. 5. 2004 (Funkční rozlišování spisovných názvů Česká republika a Česko a jejich cizojazyčných ekvivalentů)
  17. 7. veřejné slyšení - 11. 5. 2004 (Funkční rozlišování spisovných názvů Česká republika a Česko a jejich cizojazyčných ekvivalentů)
  18. see Moryson 1626;
  19. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 30th August 2012 from website:
  20. Zídek, Petr. "'Cesko' je starsi, nez se myslelo" [Czechia is Older, Than Was Thought]. Lidove Noviny (Prague, Czech Republic), April 27, 2016.
  21. Notes and Queries. Oxford University Press. 1856.
  22. The Mercury (Hobart, Australia: 1860-1954), Saturday 21 July 1866
  23. Beneš, Edvard (1917). Bohemia's case for independence. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-405-02734-6.
  24. Munzar J., Drápela M.V.: Czechia = Bohemia + Moravia + Silesia (Moravian Geographical Report. Brno: Ústav Geoniky, 1999. s. 58-61. Moravian Geographical Report, sv. 7, č. 2.) , 1999
  25. New York Times: Literary history of Czechs (Jan.4, 1925)
  26. New York Times: Soviet Note to Germany (Mar.20, 1939)
  27. Palestine Post: Unified Control (Dec.28, 1939)
  28. Barrier Miner: Dr. Benes Broadcasts To His Countrymen (Mar.16, 1940)
  29. Recommendation of Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Czech embassies from 1998 and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport from 1999
  30. Horová E.: Record of Proceedings of the 7th Public Hearing of the Senate, May 11, 2004 (Czech) recording Portman's letter from April 4, 2000 from the British embassy in Prague
  31. The Independent, October 11, 2013
  32. "Vláda schválila doplnení jednoslovného názvu Cesko v cizích jazycích do databází OSN." Last modified May 5, 2016.
  33. "

External links

Look up Czech Republic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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