Name of the Czech Republic
The name of the Czech Republic derives from the Slavic tribe of Czechs (Czech: Čechové). Nearly two decades after the split of Czechoslovakia into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the latter continues to be known by several competing names in English and Czech. The Czech term for the Czech lands (i.e. Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia) is Česko. The English equivalent "Czechia" //, though attested as early as 1866, is rarely used in the English-speaking world. "The Czech Republic" (Czech: Česká republika) is the unquestioned long-form name.
The country is named after the Czechs (Czech: Čechové), a Slavic tribe residing in central Bohemia which 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).
Several variants of the name have been used over the centuries, due to the evolution of the Czech language. The digraph "cz" was used until the 16th century reform, being eventually replaced by "č" by the end of the century (changing Czechy 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 the late 18th century, it only came into official use in 1918 as the first part of the name of the newly independent Czechoslovakia (Česko-Slovensko or Československo) . 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. 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. 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. 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.
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-heim,” meaning "home of the Boii." The name survived all the following migrations affecting the area, including the arrival of the Slavic tribes 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 Crown of Bohemia 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. 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) was adopted to distinguish between the Czech and German speaking peoples living in the country. The Latin form Czechia is attested as early as 1634 and was first used in English in a report on the Austrian-Prussian war in 1866.
The disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the proclamation of the new Republic of Czechoslovakia in 1918 saw initial proposals 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 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. The name was commonly used in the Anglophone press until the German occupation of the Czech lands in 1939.
With the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport recommended the use of the name Czechia, but this has not been fully adopted by Czech authorities. In contrast to this lack of support, representatives of English speaking countries have shown a willingness to accept the name. The situation was most accurately expressed by British secretary for press and politics Giles Portman: "...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...“.
As Czechia is rarely used and the long form is unwieldy, the general population often uses the adjective Czech for the country's name (similar to the use of "Dominican" for the Dominican Republic and "Saudi" for Saudi Arabia), These tendencies have sometimes been the subject of jokes among English speakers. In 2013, Czech president Miloš Zeman recommended the wider official use of Czechia.
The renaming of the country in 1918 and 1993 was reflected in the majority of other languages, with only a few (Polish Czechy, Hungarian Csehország, and Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian and Slovene, Češka, etc.) retaining the form used previously for Bohemia. Unlike English, other languages adopted the new short-forms such as Tschechien in German, Tsjechië in Dutch, Tsjekkia in Norwegian, Tjeckien in Swedish, Tjekkiet in Danish, Česko in Slovak, Чэхія (Čechija) in Belarusian, Чехія (Chekhiya) in Ukrainian, Чехия (Chekhiya) in Russian and Bulgarian, Čekija in Lithuanian, Čehija in Latvian, Cehia in Romanian, Cechia in Italian, Chéquia/Tchéquia in Portuguese, Chequia in Spanish, Tchéquie in French, Tšekki in Finnish, Tšehhi in Estonian, Τσεχία (Tsechia) in Greek, and Çekya in Turkish.
- Latest from Prussia. The Mercury, page 4, Saturday 21 July 1866
- Bardsley, Daniel (October 16, 2013). "Czech out the proposed name". The Prague Post.
- 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.
- Looking for a name – Radio Prague Radio.cz (2011-01-21). Retrieved on 2011-01-27.
- 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")
- Official pages
- Pozvánka na 7. veřejné slyšení Senátu - 11. 5. 2004 (Funkční rozlišování spisovných názvů Česká republika a Česko a jejich cizojazyčných ekvivalentů)
- 7. veřejné slyšení - 11. 5. 2004 (Funkční rozlišování spisovných názvů Česká republika a Česko a jejich cizojazyčných ekvivalentů)
- Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 30th August 2012 from CollinsDictionary.com website:http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/Czech
- The Mercury (Hobart, Australia: 1860-1954), Saturday 21 July 1866
- Beneš, Edvard (1917). Bohemia's case for independence. London: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-405-02734-6.
- 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
- New York Times: Literary history of Czechs (Jan.4, 1925)
- New York Times: Soviet Note to Germany (Mar.20, 1939)
- Palestine Post: Unified Control (Dec.28, 1939)
- Barrier Miner: Dr. Benes Broadcasts To His Countrymen (Mar.16, 1940)
- Recommendation of Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Czech embassies from 1998  and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport from 1999 
- 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
- An exception is for example, Murphy, Terry G.; Jordan-Bychkov, Alexander B.; Bychkova Jordan, Bella (2008). The European culture area : a systematic geography (5th ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-5671-3. which in its preface states: … we have opted for commonly used anglicized short forms rather than formal country names.… The one case that might be less familiar to readers concerns the Czech Republic. Increasingly one hears the short form Czechia. Even though that name is not as widely known as other truncations (e.g., Slovakia for the Slovak Republic), we have decided to use Czechia for consistency and to reflect its growing use in the country itself. National Geographic has used "Czechia" since 2005. (NG Editors) Also Czech libraries have introduced "Czechia" into their bibliographic standards. Authority database of the NL CR)
- Bičík R., Perlín R.: Press statement on the importance of the correct use of this country’s name in foreign languages (2001)
- Petr Berka; Aleš Palan; Petr Šťastný (2008). Tulloch Scott, Catriona, ed. Xenophobe's Guide to the Czechs. London: Xenophobe's Guides. p. 1. ISBN 9781902825236.
- The Independent, October 11, 2013
|Look up Czech Republic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- (Czech) "Open letter to the Czech Olympic Foundation, Czech Sports Union, politicians, business people, media, etc.", National Geographic, 2001.
- (English) "Looking for a name" by Daniela Lazarova, Radio Prague, May 13, 2004.
- (English) "Česko versus Czechy? On the geographic name of the Czech Republic" by Leoš Jeleček, paper presented at the 2nd Slovak-Czech-Polish Geographical Seminar, Bratislava, September 1–5, 1999.