What’s in a name?
Earlier this year, the Czech government took steps to register ‘Czechia’ as the official short-hand name for the Czech Republic, in much the same way that the Slovak Republic is known as Slovakia.
In July, the United nations entered the term as the official shorthand name for the Czech Republic in its database of geographical names.
And last month, the UK’s Permanent Committee on Geographical Names recommended using the short version of the name in government documents.
But six months after the Czech Republic “became” Czechia, use of the short version of the name is still rare, and the anti-Czechia pushback has been strong.
The Guardian’s Robert Tait recently took to the streets of Prague to find out just what the city’s residents thought of the English-language name change.
“It’s a little confusing,” software engineer Lukas Hasik told him. “Nobody calls it Czechia, I don’t know why.”
“It’s the Czech Republic,” claims medical student Zdeněk Čech. “I would like a shorter name but Czechia doesn’t sound nice. It sounds too small, or like some dialect.”
“Czechia makes some sense historically but the common people will call it the Czech Republic,” said language teacher Eliska Cmejrkova.
“You cannot change a language by law; it’s like a living organism. Only linguists and nationalists care about this. When I talk about Czechia with my friends, we make fun of it and never us it.”
Tait points out that while Czech officials were the ones to push through the short name, they, too, haven’t adopted it when speaking in English. Prague Castle spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček used ‘Czech Republic’ in a recent tweet, while Finance Minister Andrej Babiš used it in a Bloomberg interview.
While the Czech Republic may have ‘officially’ become Czechia this year, it appears that the new name has a long way to go before widespread adoption.