A New Name for Czech Republic?
Americans know it simply as the Czech Republic. It is the country that is one half of what was once Czechoslovakia after the country split in two in 1993 and became Slovakia and Czech Republic.
As a popular European tourist destination, hundreds of thousands of people flock
to the country’s capital, Prague, each year. (Including us this September. Yay!)
But since it’s inception, there has been some controversy over the country’s name… Mainly because it never adopted a short form of its name, like the majority of European countries. For example, the French Republic is known as France, the Federal Republic of Germany is simply known as Germany… But poor ol’ Czech Republic couldn’t decide on a short form… Until now. The country now wants to be known in the English-speaking world as Czechia, not to be confused with Russia’s Chechnya.
Of course, the Czechs still have several hoops to jump through before their new nickname can become official. In other words, you probably aren’t going to find any t-shirts or magnets in tourist shops just yet sporting the new name. Can you imagine the rebranding campaign they’ll have to undergo? Wowza!
Why don’t we call places what the locals call them?
The possible name change brings up another topic… a bit of an annoyance of mine… The locals in Czech Republic don’t call their country Czechia.. or Czech Republic for that matter. Most refer to it as Cesko. Apparently, Czechia is the English translation of that, but why not just call the country Cesko? I speak English, and I can pronounce that just fine.
And on that note, why do we call Germany by anything other than Deutschland, which is in fact what the German people call their country? Why do we call the Italian city of Firenze by the name Florence? I’ve never understood why we have to have translations for proper names. I understand that the alphabet varies from language to language.. but phonetically, why does the pronunciation of the name have to change?
It makes me wonder, do people in other countries have different names for American cities like Chicago, Boston, Denver, or Dallas? If you live in another part of the world, I am genuinely curious about this.
Anyway, when we visit the Czech Republic in a few months, I’ll let you know what name is listed on the magnets. Even if the Czechia branding campaign is already underway by then, I may scour tourist shop bargain bins for something that says Czech Republic… or the country formerly known as the Czech Republic. It will be a souvenir that will always remind me that I went to Czechia before it was universally actually known by the name.