Use of the word “Czechia”?
Ahoj všechny—I was writing a skit about getting lost on the way to the Czech Republic, and for variety I referred to it a few times as Czechia. A Czech native reviewed the skit and liked it, but she warned against saying “Czechia” because it is “old and offensive.” Is this feeling widespread? I thought it was made official by the government recently, but I have no cultural awareness here. Thanks.
Ahoj, thank You for Your question. As a native Czech speaker I prefer to use Czech Republic. The name Czechia reminds me the old names: Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia. These words have for me a rich cultural and historical context. But I feel that our identity refers to the word Republic as to a democratic modern state form. The name Czechia is expressing just a part of our national roots.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The Somali Democratic Republic.... Having the word 'republic' in the title doesn't make a country a modern democratic state, it simply means the leader is not a monarch, and as you can see, even having the word 'democratic' usually doesn't help. Československá socialistická republika was also a republic of course! ^_^
I'm a big fan of the change, use it all the time, and think with time it will simply catch on. I actually know a few Czechs who were using it even before it became official. How many French people say they come from the French Republic, Indians from the Republic of India, or Greeks from the Hellenic Republic?
I wouldn't call it "old and offensive", it's just something people are not used to. It's true that short versions are always disputed and often disliked by people, I don't use "Czechia" myself, on the other hand I think having a short name is useful and people get used to it in a few years.
Why old? Yes, it's inspired by an old name that hasn't been much in use recently, until they resurrected it.
Why some people might find it offensive? It might sound to them like it only refers to Bohemia, the Western (and largest) part of the country, while Moravia and Silesia are brushed aside. But we don't have a better name that would specifically include all of them. The full name, Czech Republic, is not disputed, although the word root is the same.
Some time ago (OK, maybe a decade or two) the same dispute took place for a short name to be used in the Czech language. Media started using "Česko" and the same arguments arose, people called the word ugly, because they weren't used to it (although it uses the same model as other country names), and of course people argued that it doesn't refer to the whole country. These days, the word is in use and nobody looks at it twice (OK, some people might still grumble, but I don't hear them).
So my guess is that it's only a question of time and the same will happen to Czechia.
thanks for your thoughtful reply. we should probably add "republika" in the next version so the long/short name distinction can be appreciated. the course does accept "the Czech Republic" as a translation of "Česko".
this issue will surely remain a living proof that není na světě člověk ten, aby se zachoval lidem všem.
Czech Republic might be longer, it rolls better off the tongue and it sounds more inclusive to Moravians and Silesian too for some reason. Czechia to me is like calling the Netherlands Holland, which can be done informally, but to make it official would be quite blunt.
I'm not quite sure how "the Czech Republic" can phonetically roll of the tongue better than Czechia, or how having the words 'the' and 'Republic' make it more inclusive of Moravians and Silesians than the '-ia' suffix : And in English, the "Čechy" region is Bohemia, so I don't think Netherlands/Holland comparison is exactly apt either
I also thought the Czech government were pushing for 'Czechia' to supersede 'the Czech Republic' as the common word for their country in English (by analogy with 'Slovakia'), which would be a very strange thing to do if it were offensive to Czechs!
However, I must say that I've never, ever heard a native English speaker naturally use this word rather than 'Czech republic', so its ubiquitous presence as the default English name for the country in the course certainly doesn't follow Duolingo norms of calling things by their most common English names.
DL should by all means reflect real changes in usage, but only once they already very common and widespread, neither of which criteria 'Czechia' currently satisfies (have a look at this Google ngram).
Google maps in the UK call it Czechia http://blog.praguemorning.cz/czech-republic-czechia-google-maps/
As a native Czech, I can tell you that people here don't really like the name, because the government made it official out of nowhere, noone used it before. I don't think it's old, it just seems really unnatural. Google Maps for example use "Czechia" though, so it's likely that more and more people will start to use it aswell, especially foreigners. Since you're not Czech, noone will probably be offended by you saying Czechia.
I kind of like it actually. I think it is logical and the poetic name Čechie has been used for ages. Both Czechia and Česko are completely fine for me. But I am a Bohemian (Čech jak poleno), perhaps people from Moravia or Silesia view it differently or some even take it offensively...
perhaps people from Moravia or Silesia view it differently
In very informal writing it is “CZ” all the way. In speaking most of the time we just say “the country”. I still have to hear someone say “Czechia” (in English, it is however the usual form in French, German, Italian and a bunch of other languages).