Leaders in the Czech Republic are poised to change the casual form of the nation’s name to “Czechia.”
It’s been a long time coming. Proposals for a one-word English name have been floating around since the Czech Republic was established over two decades ago, following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
The BBC notes that a shorter name would “make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing.”
The Czech Republic’s president, prime minister, heads of parliament and foreign and defense ministers have all approved the name “Czechia,” The Guardian reports, but the Cabinet must also sign off before the new name is made official by the U.N.
The switch is not a full name change: The country will still formally be known as the Czech Republic. It’s only the casual English form of the name that would change.
It’s common practice for a country to have a short-form name: The French Republic is France. The Hellenic Republic is Greece. And there’s the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Kingdom of Denmark, Slovak Republic — in English, all are more commonly known by their shorter names.
“The Dominican Republic and the Central African Republic are the only two countries in the entire world that do not have readily available short names,” the Go Czechia website declares. (It’s one of several websites campaigning for the name switch.)
There’s already a one-word name for the Czech Republic — in Czech — but even that is not quite settled. Officially, the nation is called “Cesko,” but The Guardian notes that many use “Cechy” — although that technically only refers to one region, Bohemia.
And an English short-form name? In The Washington Post, Adam Taylor explored the decades-long search for the right word. Some people advocated for “Czechlands,” he says, while others just used the adjective “Czech” as a noun.
Now Czechia appears to have won out, although some — including the Czech Republic’s development minister — object that the name is too similar to Chechnya.
Then there’s the question of pronunciation. “Czechia” is pronounced CHEH-khiyah or CHEK-iyah — with a k, not a ch, in the middle. Can English speakers handle that?
Go Czechia argues that if we can manage to pronounce “Czech,” we could deal with Czechia.
“English pronunciation is variable and English speakers simply have to learn the pronunciation of particular words, such as blood — mood or head — steam,” the site writes.
The Internet fell over itself to make the same pun: “Czechia self before you wreck,” etc. And NPR’s Peter Kenyon had some ideas of his own.
“Czechdisout: what about Czechmate, or Czechplease?” he suggested.
What can we say? When it comes to pun-making, we have a czechered past.