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Czech Republic

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Dr Hudebnik
144699.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:23 am Reply with quote

I thought I might add this thread since there were many posts about Czech things (and indeed Moravian, etc.) in the general thread.


Dr Hudebnik
144748.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 11:30 am Reply with quote

On the other thread some have suggested the use of 'Czechia', which is common amongst the Germanic languages and is, in fact, closest to the older Czech 'Ceska' or 'Ceska zeme' [the Czech land] – which is what you still hear in the 19th-century national anthem 'Kde domov muj?' [where is my home?].

The Latin 'Bohemia' is slightly different in origin. This means the 'land of the Boi' – the Celtic tribe that inhabited the region before the Germanic and Slavic tribes arrived. Even though the Celts were wiped out by Germanic tribes, the name 'Bohemia' stuck. Even today many Celtic names can be seen in the names of Czech places; such as Vltava, Brno [from 'Brynn'] and Kromeriz [from the Latin 'Cremsier' itself from the Celtic 'Cromesir'].

By the middle ages Bohemian in adjectival usage reffered to the Slav speakers. The use of Czech in liturgy caused a great stir (see anything about Hus) and so one encounters very early on the 'Litaniae Bohemica', etc. This was contrasted with the 'Litaniae Germanica' of the same region.


Dr Hudebnik

144820.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:06 pm Reply with quote

Dobrý den Dr Hudebnik, from your name I'm guessing that you are a Czech (albeit a UK based one) so fraternal Slavic greetings from this forum's only Pole (albeit a UK based Canadian one)!

Dr Hudebnik
144824.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 2:11 pm Reply with quote

Dzien dobry! You've come a long way: from to the UK via Canada! Perhaps you are one of the many Canadian Slavs? Once I spoke at length with a young waitress in London (in Czech) only to discover that she was born and raised in Canada! What a strange world.

144865.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:30 pm Reply with quote

I am indeed one of the many Canadian Slavs.

To cut a long story short (since regular readers have heard it before), my mom was Scottish. My dad's parents emigrated from Gdańsk to North America in the 30s, and while their documents may have claimed that they were citizens of the Freie Stadt Danzig they were in little doubt that they were Poles. My dad was born on the crossing, but eventually settled in Vancouver and became a Canadian national. I was born and raised in Vancouver and came to Britain in 1998 having got a job here. Now that I'm married to an Englishman I reckon I'm staying, and I took out a Polish passport last year - admittedly largely for the benefits of EU nationality, but that said I'll be spending three months in Gdańsk later this year teaching English.

Now then, getting back on topic, what have the Czechs ever done for us? I'll open with the sugar cube, the contact lens, the word "robot", Tom Stoppard and some rather good beer. Anyone care to raise me?

144876.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 3:44 pm Reply with quote

Ooo there's a lot of things.
- Cars: Skoda
- Some fine tennis players: Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl (and ofcourse Richard and Michaela Krajicek)
- Beautiful music: Dvorak, Smetana.
- Literature: Kafka.

144939.  Fri Feb 09, 2007 6:06 pm Reply with quote

I don't drink but I have been told that the beer is especially good

145055.  Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:38 am Reply with quote

Holidays in Prague are definitely a positive. And the novels of Ivan Klíma and Bohumil Hrabal. Oh, and Milan Kundera.

Dr Hudebnik
145586.  Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:32 pm Reply with quote

Samivel, speaking of Hrabal, 'Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále' [I served the King of England] has just been released as a film by Menzel.

145590.  Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:39 pm Reply with quote

Has it? Cool. Closely Observed Trains is one of my favourite films, so I've high hopes for this new one.

Dr Hudebnik
145604.  Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:53 pm Reply with quote

You can see the trailer here:

Dr Hudebnik
146065.  Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:57 am Reply with quote

Thanks for the update and info Suze. Well, 'robot' is a recent import (I think it only came into English in the 20th century after it was left untranslated in story by Karel Capek.

What have the Czech's done? Well, Skoda operated the first car factory in Europe. I think one can argue that the Czechs started the Reformation – or were at least one of the main catalysts (I leave the reader to decide if that's a good thing or not).

I suppose the 'what have the Czechs done for us' seems a bit odd. Are countries only to be judged on what they did for England? We certianly know what the English did for us in Munich. I digress!

Kafka was mentioned. Yes, a Czech who made a great contribution to German literature. Though he spoke Czech, of course (his German friends teased him for having a Czech accent) he only ever wrote books in German. The name 'Kafka' (which is pretty common) means 'blackbird' in Czech.

Other Czech words in English: pistol and, er, Semtex.

Czech inventions. Beyond Skoda (which, with some irony, means 'it is a pity' in Czech) and Pilsner – how about the contact lens? J. Bozek invented the first ever steam-powered vehicle in Europe in the 19th century. The propeller is another Czech invention – which is a little bit humorous for a small land-locked country.

Ok, that's enough for now. I feel like I'm bragging.

146896.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:54 am Reply with quote

How about:
Good King Wenceslas
Jan Švankmajer and
Jaroslav Hašek?

Dr Hudebnik
146919.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 9:41 am Reply with quote

Very good Ali. The first is quite interesting. In fact, the Wenceslas (or 'Vaclav' in Czech) of the English carol was not a King at all, but rather a Duke.

Have you read 'The Good Soldier Svejk?' by Hasek?

146923.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 9:51 am Reply with quote

Yes, it's one of my favourite novels.


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