Q for questions

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Hello and welcome to the ABC of Czech in which we unveil the mysteries of the Czech language. Today's letter is Q for questions. Yes, we're going to try and answer some of the questions and queries which you, the listeners, have sent in.

The first one comes from Dustin Loupour from the United States.

"Why do you call the Bohemians Czechs? If there is a place called Bohemia why aren't they called Bohemians?"

Well, I guess it's all a matter of the English language and not us here at Radio Prague. First of all, Czechs never called themselves Bohemians. The Czech words are Èech in the singular and Èe¹i in the plural. The word Bohemia comes from Latin. The Romans named the region after a Celtic tribe, the Boii, who used to live there and later moved to what is now France. Through history, other European languages, such as French, Italian, Spanish and all Slavic languages, have evolved their own names for both Czechs and their country, and those words sound quite similar to the Czech original. Whereas English adopted the old Latin term for the region - Bohemia - and also called its inhabitants rather inappropriately Bohemians. Later the term Czech came into English and replaced the archaic term Bohemian for both the people and the language, but the word Bohemia was never substituted. So, Dustin, maybe you should put your question to specialists on the English language.

The second question was sent by my namesake Paola Pajno from Italy. She listened to the episode about Czech names and wanted to know more about the male name Zdenìk. It is quite a common name; for example the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Mr ©kromach, is called Zdenìk and so was the famous 19th century composer Zdenìk Fibich. Linguists differ in opinion on the origin of the name. Some suggest it was derived from the Latin name Sidonius, while others think it's short for the old Czech name Zdislav.

The last question we can fit in this programme comes from Michael Stary from the United States.

"I am interested in information about the Summer School of Slavonic Studies for my daughter. Although she is only two years old, I hope to accompany her to the Czech Republic during the summers so she can learn the Czech language and culture."

I'm afraid, Michael, your daughter is too young for the summer school, which is usually attended by students over 18. But before she gets older you'll have plenty of time to look around for a summer school which would best you're your demands. A number of Czech universities, for example in Brno, Olomouc, Plzeò or Èeské Budìjovice organise summer programmes for learners of Czech. The one you mention in your email takes place in Prague every year. And if you're interested, Radio Prague has covered it in our programme earlier this summer. If you would like to read the text or listen to the programme again, just go to our website.

And the same applies for all the previous editions of this programme, the ABC of Czech. Join us next week if you can. Until then, na shledanou, good-bye.


See also Living Czech.