18-07-2004

In this week's edition of Mailbox: the performance of the Czech national team at Euro 2004, German surnames, One on One theme song. Listeners quoted: Stephen Tonge and Einari Karjalainen.

Thanks for tuning in to Mailbox. I'm Pavla Horakova and from now on I will be your new Mailbox host.

First of all, we'd like to thank you for all those e-mails expressing regret over the loss of the Czech Republic's team in the semi-final of Euro 2004, as well as praising the Czech team's performance in the championship.

For example, Mr Stephen Tonge from Dublin, Ireland, wrote in to congratulate the Czech squad.

While watching the games, Mr Tonge writes, he noticed that a very high proportion of the Czech players had German surnames, for instance Koller, Heinz and Bruckner. "I was curious," he writes, "that given the fact that there are very few German speakers left in the Czech Republic, was this a relic of Austrian domination as the prevalence of English surnames in Ireland also attests to? Had there not being quite a vigorous policy of making surnames Slavic after 1918 and especially after 1945? In Ireland, many people translated their [English-sounding] names into Irish or added the O' back to their surname. Basically are German sounding surnames common in the Czech Republic?"

Yes, German or at least German-sounding surnames with Czech spelling are very common in this country. According to a recent study carried out by students from the University of South Bohemia, the proportion of German surnames in the town of Cesky Krumlov, which is quite close to the border, is over 32 percent, whereas in Benesov in Central Bohemia it is about 17 percent. So we can say that the closer you get to the German or Austrian border, the more Germanic names you'll come across. Other research by the same university suggests that the percentage of German surnames in the town of Telc has dropped since 1921 only by some four percent. Similar figures are probably valid for the rest of the country.

A German sounding surname does not necessarily mean the family is of German or Austrian descent. A few centuries ago people used to change their Czech surnames to manifest they had improved their social status. Also, during the reign of Emperor Joseph II., Jews in the Czech lands were required to adopt German surnames in exchange for some religious freedoms.

Similarly, if you travel to Austria and look at the names of shops or company names, you will find a great number of Czech surnames, as you will if you open a Vienna phonebook. Our nations have been living together for centuries and it is only natural that the populations mixed.

Before we move on to our competition question for the month of July, here is another e-mail, from Einari Karjalainen who lives in Helsinki, Finland.

He writes: "I was once again listening to your transmission in English and there has been a question in my mind for quite a long time. Now I've gathered the courage to ask about it. I like Radio Prague's theme songs very, very much but one especially. It is the theme song of the programme One on One. Can you please tell me what song it is and is the record available for purchase?"

Well, our One on One jingle is a song by Money Mark from the album "Push the Button." Money Mark is also known for playing the keyboard with the Beastie Boys and "Push the Button" is his second solo album.

We're glad to hear that you like our jingles. Thanks for your letters and e-mails and please do keep them coming!

 

Before I leave you I mustn't forget the question for the month of July: "What is the name of the Bohuslav Martinu opera about a girl from a town where no-one can remember their past?"

Please get your answers to us by July 31st. Send them as usual to the Radio Prague English Section, 120 99 Prague 2, the Czech Republic or by e-mail to english@radio.cz

18-07-2004