Today in Mailbox: South Bohemian carp, the pronunciation of the name of the Czech-American sculptor Albín Polášek, the Czech animation artist Jiří Trnka. Listeners quoted: Colin Rose, Walter Wynn, Rusty Edwards, Hiroshi Katayama.

Welcome to Mailbox. Tomorrow’s equinox marks the official start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, but autumn seems to have set in a few days too early here in the Czech Republic. Whatever the weather and climate in your area, thanks for tuning in. And let’s get straight to your letters.

In recent weeks the topic of fish was featured twice on Radio Prague. In last Sunday’s Letter from Prague, Rosie Johnston shared with us her experience of carp tasting in the South Bohemian town of Třeboň. Colin Rose from England sent us this comment regarding the topic:

“We spend a lot of time in South Bohemia and are very frustrated how hard it is to buy carp. South Bohemian carp is rather special with a fine and subtle flavour. In a restaurant it is invariably cooked badly and sad to relate, whilst we have had truly delicious carp cooked in the home by Czech friends we have also had less than excellent. Most Czechs seem to regard it as a chore, only for Christmas, rather as the English treat turkey, which most English make a mess of cooking. Go to Manchester or London's China Town to find out how delicious carp can be if cooked correctly. Whilst it is remarkably difficult to get fresh, preferably live carp, when I have managed to get it, then it has been great fun to cook. Steaming it in the Chinese style preserves its texture and flavour far better than the crude fry-up that is usual. It also bakes well with a rich seasoning to complement the flesh. I think the task of getting the Czechs to eat more fish is going to be an uphill struggle!”

From the United States, Walter Wynn wrote in with this query:

“Dobrý den. On Tuesday, we visited the home and studio of Albín Polášek in Winter Park, Florida. Please advise the correct way to pronounce Polášek. We were told at the museum that it is ‘poLAshek’ with emphasis on the second syllable, but our Czech notes on grammar say the first syllable is always emphasized, hence it would be POlashek. Děkuji.”

I hope I will be able to explain this in a comprehensible way. The Czech language distinguishes stress and length. While the stress is always on the first syllable and doesn’t have any influence on the meaning of words, lengths can be anywhere and they can distinguish meaning. In writing lengths are marked with accents. In the sculptor’s name, the stress is on “Po” and the middle “a” is long -approximately twice as long as a “short” vowel. The same goes for his first name Albín. While the “A” is stressed, the “í” is long. I hope I have made it a little clearer for you.

Our regular listener Rusty Edwards lives in Mississippi:

“I enjoy listening to your English programs. I listen almost every day. It’s very interesting to hear about the many subjects you provide... It is nice to hear about different cultures from all over the world... I listen to several different stations, Radio Prague, Voice of Russia, Radio Australia. I have learned that even though were are many miles apart, we can learn from each other’s cultures... Keep up all the great programs.”

Thank you for that kind e-mail and please keep tuning in.

Hiroshi Katayama from Hiroshima, Japan sent in a question along with his reception report:

“In my town Hiroshima, a Czech animation festival will be held during September. I hear that there are many animation artists in the Czech Republic. I’d like to know about Jiří Trnka, the famous Czech animation artist.”

Jiří Trnka is a household name in the Czech Republic. Everybody who grew up in this country in the last sixty years is familiar with his drawings and original puppets. Born in 1912 in Pilsen, Trnka studied at the University of Applied Arts in Prague. In 1945 he established his own animation studio, along with his colleagues. The studio called Bratři v triku produced dozens of animated movies and Trnka himself illustrated many children’s books. He died in 1969 at the age of 57 and is buried in the Central Cemetery (Ústřední hřbitov) in his native city of Pilsen. Less than a year ago, Jiří Trnka was featured in Radio Prague’s regular programme Czechs in History. The article can be found at http://www.radio.cz/en/article/97289


And staying with the topic of film we turn to our regular listeners’ competition:

Our September mystery Czech was born in 1926 in Ostrava, into a Jewish family. At age 13 he was among the hundreds of children rescued from Czechoslovakia by Sir Nicholas Winton. He studied at Oxford and later became one of the leading directors of the 1960s new wave of British cinema.

Please send us your answers to english@radio.cz or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Four of you who send in a correct answer will receive prizes from Radio Prague. That’s it for today, please keep those letters coming and until next Sunday, take care.