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Monday, 16 May 2016 17:18

What's in a name?

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Photo: Roman Boed (Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0 

Native speakers of English, who also happen to know Czech are, I grant you, quite a rare breed, but they do exist.  As one of those linguistic oddities (and not even one who can be excused by family ties to the region), the news that the Czech Republic apparently now wishes to be known on the world stage as Czechia certainly struck a chord with me.

Of course, the name Czechia is nothing new. Ever since the Velvet Divorce, which saw post-communist Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak Republics, the term has been periodically bandied about as a snappier English-language alternative and its origins do in fact go back a lot further than that.  It’s also fair to say that the country’s current name can be a bit of a mouthful sometimes. However, for me at least, the lack of a short moniker has always been part of the Czech Republic’s charm. It lets those of us who travel there for more than just the occasional boozy weekend come up with our own pet names for the place (Czecho has long been a personal favourite of mine), not to mention all the fun that can be had with puns on the word Czech.  Or czuns as we used to call them when I was an undergraduate.

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