This week in Mailbox: New website czech.cz; the use of US dollars in Radio Prague reports; features on Radio Prague's website. Listeners quoted: David Eldridge, Kanu Kumar Paul, Jane Carter, C. Jones.
Hello and welcome to Mailbox, our weekly programme in which we read from our listeners' letters. And let's start off with this.
On Wednesday, we reported on the launch of a new official website presenting the Czech Republic, czech.cz. Operated by the Czech Foreign Ministry, it features information on everything from castles and chateaux to how to find a job in this country. It is available in English, German and Czech. David Eldridge from England looked it up and sent us this response.
"The 'new official web site' of the Czech Republic might be a useful reference source for specific information for your country but I found it very dry, and it doesn't inspire me to make a return visit. [It is] what I would consider the sort of boring content you would find in an airline company in-flight magazine or newspaper supplement. What is its purpose, I wonder?"
The purpose of the website, as the Foreign Ministry says, is to be a gate to other important sites of the Czech Republic and provide information to everyone who is interested in the Czech Republic, both tourists and investors, journalists and people who want to work in the country. I believe the content is meant to be useful rather than exciting.
As you know Radio Prague is celebrating its 70th birthday this year and Kanu Kumar Paul from India has sent us this e-mail.
"I have read the Internet edition of the features '70 Years of Radio Prague' and 'Radio Prague - the last five years'. Its gradual addition of different activities, i.e. shortwave broadcasting, Internet, Satellite Broadcasts, has highly facilitated listeners like me. Though I am not an old listener but within short time I have become a regular reader of Radio Prague's Internet Edition. I hope Radio Prague's future advancement will be more attractive."
Well, we are trying our best. But it is hard to please all people as we can see from letters of complaint we get from our listeners. Such as this one from Jane Carter who unfortunately forgot to mention where she is writing from.
"I find it highly unlikely that the Czech labour minister ever said 'The Czech Republic's minimum wage is set to rise from 334 dollars to 351 dollars a month in July.' The currency in the Czech Republic is the crown, not the dollar. If you want to translate the crown value into other currencies please report what the minister said correctly and then provide the euro amount (or even the dollar amount) in brackets afterwards. The quote you gave will make people think that the Czech Republic is a poor third world country which barely uses its own currency. Why do you use the dollar at all? The Czech Republic is in the EU, not Central America!"
That particular report was written by my colleague Ian Willoughby who is now with me in the studio. So, Ian, what's the story with crowns and dollars in Radio Prague's reports?
"If you do business news, you can't really bombard the listener with loads of figures. If you have every sum in both Czech crowns and dollars, it's simply overwhelming. The main thing is to be comprehensible. I think everyone around the world understands dollars and everyone can relate to the currency. Also, it is not so unusual. If you take, for example, the BBC, what they do is if they report on, say, a football transfer in England, they will give the figure in dollars. Simply, again, because everyone understands it. The transfer of money wasn't in dollars but everyone understands the currency.
"Also, about the euro, the Czech Republic is in the European Union but it is not in the Eurozone. Perhaps, closer to adoption of the euro, Radio Prague will start to use the currency, but for now, we decided to use the dollar, because again, everyone understands it. And the idea of using dollars suggesting this country is in the third world is strange and I think no one actually believes that.
"Jane Carter also e-mailed me about the use of reported speech and I have to say it is very hard to convey quotations in a radio script, so reported speech is a simple everyday part of radio scripts."
While you are here, Ian, let's hear what our listener who signed only as C. Jones wrote from somewhere in cyberspace.
"I greatly enjoy your radio Prague pages in English on the internet, especially the news reports and the support for foreigners. But reading the new driving regulations I have noticed a lot of errors. I would like to offer my services to proof-read your pages."
"Well, it was full of mistakes, unfortunately. We don't have the resources to edit and correct that kind of text. Also, there was a danger that if we edited the text and perhaps got something wrong or changed the law and somebody later got in trouble because they read our website and were misinformed - we could have got in trouble. I would say is that this listener or reader could perhaps contact this new website, Czech.cz. They aim to help people orient themselves and live in this country and you could possibly e-mail them that you would like this information in English on their website. I spoke to a guy from this website and he seemed keen on this idea. It could be worth e-mailing them and asking."
Thank you very much, Ian. And we are nearly out of time today so let's repeat our competition question for July.
"If you follow Radio Prague regularly, you will find this question quite easy. We would like you to tell us the name of a Czech-born American anthropologist who was one of the first scientists to pronounce a theory that all humans are the descendants of one common ancestor."
You have until next Monday to send us your answers to Radio Prague, 12099, Prague, Czech Republic or to email@example.com and there will be small prizes for four of you.