Should Czech women be able to choose whether or not to use the ending -ová in their surname? A debate over the question has flared up again after the cabinet approved a draft law on birth registers, which denies women the possibility to do so. The Pirate Party calls it discriminatory and wants to reverse the decision in the Lower House.
Vojtěch Merunka, an associate professor who teaches at the Czech University of Life Sciences and also the Czech Technical University in Prague is one of a team of creators behind Interslavic – a language designed to make communication possible for anyone with Slav roots. Speak Czech but no Russian? Bulgarian but not Polish? Interslavic, he says, is the alternative; at a conference in June, he and fellow team members put the language to the test.
Charles University academic Ivana Bozděchová has taught Czech and Czech Studies in several corners of the world, including in the United States and in the South Korean capital Seoul. When we spoke, the conversation took in everything from the particular difficulties Czech tends to throw up for English speakers to Czechia to the use of -ová surname endings. But I first asked Ms. Bozděchová about her experiences of teaching at the University of Nebraska in 1990, right after the fall of communism.
How has the Czech language developed over the past four decades? What expressions do we borrow from other languages and which words have fallen into oblivion? These are just some of the question I asked Martin Prošek, the head of the Institute of the Czech language, which has just started to release a new monolingual dictionary of Czech. Its first chapter, containing words starting with the letter A, has just been published in electronic form.
Earlier this year the Czech government made international news with its plan to promote “Czechia” as a snappy alternative to the cumbersome “the Czech Republic”. So far how has successful has this rebranding exercise actually been? I discussed that question and more with Professor Petr Pavlínek, a geographer who teaches at Charles University and at the University of Nebraska. He’s a member of the group Initiative Czechia, which began by advocating for the Czech-language name Česko before focusing on its English equivalent. I first asked Professor