What do you call a Czech...


All over the Czech Republic, expect to hear the pitter-patter of tiny Terezas; and the tantrums of boys called Jan. They were last year's most popular names for babies. This was revealed in a report just out, which compared the names of today's Czech toddlers, with those of their parents and grandparents. Rosie Johnston sorts the Jans from the Jiris ...

So I can say I'm one of the cool kids. Being called Rosamund Therese Johnston, I would automatically fit in at any Czech kindergarten today. The name Tereza was rare in generations past, but today comes top of the list of favourite names for girls. Jan, which is the number one name for boys, has been hovering about in the top ten for three generations at least. Boys' names have changed a lot less than girls' names. This can be explained by fathers passing their names on to sons, which is still common occurrence in the Czech Republic. Girls' names seem to be more prone to whatever is in fashion at the time. Traditional names like Ludmila and Jaroslava have all but disappeared from the top ten. We will see how long the popularity of names like Manuela and Esmeralda from Mexican soap operas lasts.

These sort of 'exotic' names are particularly popular amongst the Roma minority. In the last year, the Czech registry office has added the names 'Quentin' and 'Sindy' to its records too. Foreign names can sometimes be difficult to adopt into Czech because of the case system, and the way that the end of every word changes. Take American Johna Kerryho or Johnovi Kerrymu for example.

The surprising thing is perhaps how few really wacky names there are in these lists just published. At least 16 of the top 20 children's names are those of saints, with 'Katerina', 'Tomas', 'Ondrej' and 'David' being the most obvious examples. The reason there are very few 'Moon Unit Zappa' style names is because, unlike in Britain and America, they must first be approved by the Registrar. This is bad news for the girl that was going to be called 'Midnight storm', and who must now sign her bank statements rather boringly as Eliska instead. They are relaxing the rules on what children can be called here in the Czech Republic, and so we will see if a few years down the line, 'Paris' 'Apple' and 'Brooklyn' have their own 'name days' to celebrate in the Czech calendar.