Bedrich Hrozny

This week in Mailbox: we take a look back at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games; we announce the winner of our February listeners' competition and a new question for March. We quote from letters sent by: Eve Houtzer, Roger Chambers, Mary Lou Krenek, USA; Teodor Shepertycki, Canada; Mohammad Shamim, India, Henrik Klemetz, Sweden, Angelia Beranek, Australia.

Katerina Neumannova,  photo: CTK
Once again it is the first Sunday of the month which means it's time to announce the winner of our monthly competition. Although February is the shortest month, we received close to 70 answers, almost all of them correct. But we'll get back to that later after this look back at the Winter Olympics.

After the Czech ice-hockey team were beaten 7:3 by Sweden in the semi-finals last Friday, Eve Houtzer from the United States sent us this e-mail:

"I was very disappointed by the hockey team. What a disaster, it looks like you need some new young blood, Jagr does not do it any more. Anyhow I was happy to see Katerina [Neumannova] win, her strides were awesome."

But as soon as the Saturday game was over in which the Czech Republic took bronze, Eve wrote this:

Czech Ice Hockey Team,  photo: CTK
"Sorry! Whatever I wrote before I take it all back. You got bronze. Vokoun is a great goalkeeper. Great team effort."

Thank you and on the same topic, Teodor Shepertycki from Ottawa, Canada, writes:

"Let me take this opportunity to congratulate your ice hockey athletes, coaches, etc - indeed all Czech citizens and those who wish they were - for winning the Torino 2006 Olympic Bronze Medal in Ice Hockey. I can well imagine that, the decisive win against RUSSIA must have been especially satisfying for all Czechs. Well done!"

And finally, our regular listener Mohammad Shamim from India, asked this question:

"How many medals did the Czech Republic win in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games?"

Apart from the ice hockey bronze, cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova got two medals, a silver and a gold medal, and her colleague Lukas Bauer took silver in the 15 km classical. That is four medals altogether, which is the most the Czech Republic has won at any Winter Olympics since the foundation of the state in 1993.

And now onto our monthly competition. Last month we asked you to tell us the name of a Czech scholar who deciphered the Hittite language at the beginning of the 20th century.

Now let's hear some of your answers. Mary Lou Krenek from the United States wrote this:

"The answer for the February competition is Bedrich Hrozny (1879-1952). He was the first to decipher Hittite cuneiform writing and argue and substantiate that the language and grammar were Indo-European. The monthly competitions have introduced me to some outstanding Czechs who have made substantial contributions to the world in their respective fields. I would not have known of them otherwise. Bedrich Hrozny made one of these significant contributions."

Roger Chambers from New York described to us how he found the answer:

"These days, the internet is often the first choice for such a search, but I decided instead to rely on my library, but where to start? Then I thought of Will Durant. Easy enough. Going to Hittites in the index of 'Our Oriental Heritage', 1935, volume one of an eleven-volume set of history of civilizations, I was soon reading the following on page 286. '[The Hittite] language, recently deciphered by Hrozny, from the ten thousand clay tablets found at Boghaz Keui by Hugo Winckler, was largely of Indo-European affinity; its declensional and conjugational forms closely resembled those of Latin and Greek, and some of its simpler words are visibly akin to English."

Then Mr Chambers writes he confirmed the data in two other encyclopaedias...

"So there you have it. It is perfectly possible to find out things the old fashioned way, from books."

Henrik Klemetz from Sweden sent us this answer:

"The answer is Bedrich Hrozný, a Czech professor at the University of Vienna, who in 1916 deciphered what the Hittite language sounded like and confirmed that it was indeed Indo-European. The phrase, based on an inscription in cuneiform, said 'Now bread you eat, then water you drink'."

As I said there were almost 70 answers but there can only be one winner each month and this time we drew Angelia Beranek from Australia.

"The language of the Hattusa tablets was deciphered by Czech linguist Bedrich Hrozny. He announced the results on November 24, 1915, at a lecture at the Near Eastern Society of Berlin. A book on his discovery was printed in Leipzig in 1917, titled Language of the Hittites; Its Structure and Its Membership in the Indo-European Linguistic Family. Once again, the Czechs had shown how diverse and intelligent they are - for a small country they have gained eminence in the world. Hope they continue to keep up the good work!"

Congratulations! Your prize is in the post. Many thanks to everybody else for writing in. You have another chance this month. The question for March is simple:

"Which person who was born and lived in what is now the Czech Republic has been dubbed the 'father of genetics'?"

Please send us your answers as usual to Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, Czech Republic or much quicker to [email protected]. Those are also the adresses for your comments and queries about our programme. And if you have a personal story to tell related to the competition question, don't hesitate to share it with us.