Mailbox

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In this week's Mailbox, a Czech-born listener shares her experience of emigrating to Canada as a child in the 1950s. We also hear your views on the use of the word "Czechia" instead of "the Czech Republic." Listeners quoted: Jenny Roth, Vic Uhlik, Keith Bracknell, Miloslav Rechcigl and Lynda-Marie Hauptman.

Jenny Roth who now lives in England, heard a report by our Czech-language service on Czechs retaining their identity after emigrating to North America, particularly during the communist era. The story prompted her to tell us her memories of being to Canada as a child by the Red Cross in 1959 to join her parents who had fled the country some years before.

"I was dragged screaming and kicking by the International Red Cross in 1959 from Prague and put on a plane for Canada. I arrived in Montreal to be greeted by shouting and pushing reporters and two strangers purported to be my parents... After I was all dolled up in creepy clothes, white knee socks and gloves. I was 'presented' to the créme de la créme of Canadian something or rather. I was a 10 year old commie for God's sake, Gottwald was my hero. I spoke Russian but no way did I speak any English, so they improvised: I had to parrot: "I am very happy to be here in Canada with my parents" about 50 times for the cameras. This ordeal lasted about 48 hours, including my ill fated flight from Prague, during which time I had no sleep. When I was allowed sleep the nightmares began and they never stopped."

Thank you Jenny for sharing that with us. I must say I personally find the stories of Czechs who wound up in other parts of the world because of historical events to be fascinating. We would certainly be interested in hearing about some of these experiences, if you would like to tell them to us in a letter or email.

Now you may remember last week that we talked about the failure of the official geographic name of the Czech Republic - Czechia - to catch on in English. A lot of you wrote to us with your opinions on the subject. We'll start with Vic Uhlik who wrote to us from the United States:

"The country name "Czech Republic" flows better than "Czechia". I like using "United States" better than America. Using two words to name a country is just find with me."

Unlike Vic Uhlik, Keith Bracknell in Minneapolis is not so averse to the idea of Czechia becoming more widely used in English:

"Although Czechia doesn't exactly roll off the tongue of an English speaker, I much prefer it to the other option that I'm seeing used more and more often - Czech. I often hear young Americans shortening the Czech Republic to Czech, as in, 'I'm going to Czech this summer.' Even Plzensky Prazdroj uses the phrase "brewed in Czech" on their Pilsner Urquell labels."

Miloslav Rechcigl a former president of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, who lives in Maryland doesn't like Czechia at all and say he would prefer using a different option.

"Frankly, if there is need for a single term, why not adopt the term "The Czechlands", which was coined by the former Ambassador to the US, Michal Zantovsky, an anglophile and an authority on the English language. The term is comparable to the accepted term "The Netherlands," which has the advantage of being plural and thus would encompass both provinces, Bohemia and Moravia, and would also closely correspond to the established usage of the term "historic Czech Lands" in connection with the Kingdom of Bohemia."

Meanwhile Lynda-Marie Hauptman in America had this suggestion to make:

"Maybe there should be a ballot for the citizens of the Czech Republic, to choose from a list of new names for the country. After all, the Velvet Revolution was not that long ago, and perhaps the country can have the distinction of having being named by a popular vote of its citizens. As far as I know, NO other country has done that."


That's all we have in Mailbox this week. Before we go, w'd like to remind you that the last day of April is on Monday so this is your very last chance to enter this month's competition. Here's the question once more:

It sometimes happens that two inventors simultaneously come up with the same idea independently of each other. This was for instance the case with the lightning rod which was invented by Benjamin Franklin and also a Czech scientist at roughly the same time. We'd like to know the name of the Czech inventor.

Answers to the competition as well as all your letters should be sent to Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, the Czech Republic or you can also send us a quick email to English@radio.cz.