In Mailbox this week: Problems with reading Czech characters in ABC of Czech, Radio Prague's reporting on tax freedom day, the answer to the June competition question. Listeners quoted: Mary Kretschman, US; Brack Brown, US; Katherine Faa, US; David Eldridge, UK; Mark Zubik, US; Admas Mulatu, Ethiopia.
Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague's weekly listeners' feedback programme. Today you'll find out the name of the winner of our monthly competition but first of all let's read from some of the letters and e-mails that we have received over the past week.
Mary Kretschman from the US has the following problem:
"I have been reading your web site for over 2 years and really enjoy it. I especially enjoy the ABC's of Czech as I am trying to learn the language. Just lately, however, the Czech accented letters are not transferring to the English language page correctly. They show up as double e's or 3/4 signs etc. I read the German and French instruction pages and there is no problem. Is this something you could fix?"
I've spoken to our internet team and they told me that they certainly had not changed anything in the settings recently so the problem must be with your computer. In order to be able to help you we would need a little more information. Namely, whether you are using a PC or a Macintosh and which operation system and which internet browser you are using (that is Microsoft Explorer, Mozilla, Opera etc). Just a reminder - all visitors to our website who are interested in reading our Czech language series need to set their browsers to Central European languages in order to view Czech characters properly.
Professor Brack Brown from Virginia, US, a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic, comments on our coverage of the Czech Republic's tax freedom day.
Well, we did report on tax freedom day which this year fell on Tuesday June 14th, two days earlier than in 2004 according to the Liberal Institute think tank which had calculated the date. But we do try not to be biased, and to let both defenders and critics of the idea speak for themselves, rather than passing judgment in our own right. It's certainly an interesting subject: a passionate debate about taxes is going on between different parties in parliament right now and it will be one of the crucial issues in next year's elections.
In our June question we asked you to tell us the name of a linguist of Czech origin, who in the 1930s designed and patented an alternative typewriter keyboard to the QWERTY keyboard.
The answer is August Dvorak - who was a distant cousin of the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak.
Katherine Faa from the United States wrote:
"I didn't have a clue as to the answer when I first read your question. It's amazing what a little poking around on the web can produce! I started reading your Radio Prague e-mails as preparation for my upcoming trip to Prague with my daughter in September this year. It has been really interesting and enlightening reading the daily news items this way and I'm grateful for your service. Now, for what it's worth, I can add my newly acquired information on keyboards of all things to my trivia on the history of the people from the Czech Republic."
David Eldridge from the United Kingdom wrote:
"Dr. August Dvorak is the man you are looking for, a co-inventor of the "Dvorak" keyboard. Any investigation into the advantages and disadvantages of the keyboard soon get complex, but it is a keyboard that is in use today. Basically, the QWERTY keyboard was designed for typewriters with slow mechanical movements and before touch typing developed. Some consider the Dvorak keyboard to be superior for touch typing on today's PCs because statistically more key strokes are made with alternate hands. Also, some people think that individuals could benefit from using both keyboards, the Dvorak keyboard when touch typing and the QWERTY keyboard when making visual PC inputs."
And our listener from the United States, Mark Zubik, sent us this e-mail:
"The answer is Anton Dvorak. Despite the success of his invention, it never became a popular keyboard layout. The phrase he was quoted as saying before his death was "I am tired of trying to do something worthwhile for people, they just don't want to change."
And the winner is Admas Mulatu from Harar, Ethiopia:
"I was your listener here in Ethiopia and 5 years ago, when I was 16, I won a contest from your radio station. Now I am a campus student and would like to take part in this month's contest. The answer is August Dvorak."
Congratulations Admas and your prize - a CD of Antonin Dvorak's Slavonic Dances is in the post.
"For our July question about famous Czech-born people we return back to Europe. On June 10, 1923 a boy called Jan was born in Czechoslovakia's easternmost province of Ruthenia, now part of Ukraine, close to the Romanian border. The family was extremely poor and in his adult age, our man claimed he had got his first pair of shoes at the age of seven. Both his parents died in a Nazi concentration camp but young Jan managed to escape to Britain where he joined the armed forces and changed his name. He started a career in publishing and he was a Labour MP between 1964 and 1970 but he was most famous for having built a publishing empire that spanned the world. In November 1991 he died under mysterious circumstances. Who was he?"
Please send us the answer by the end of July to the usual address, Radio Prague, 12099 Prague, the Czech Republic or to [email protected].