20th April 2016

ihned.cz: "Czechia" gets high scores abroad | Comments by New York Times, Bloomberg, The Economist

On 14 April Czech officials said they would like to have the name "Czechia" added to the United Nations database of geographical names. The database records country names in the world body’s six official languages. The shortened version of the official name of the country gets more or less positive feedback from abroad, being seen as modern, practical and the best option compared with other variants, says ihned.cz. But the choice caused mixed feelings and reactions in the Czech Republic itself. Variants that did not make the cut included “Czechlands,” “Bohemia” and, simply, “Czech.” (Pilsner Urquell, the storied beer maker, uses “Brewed in Czech” on its cans.), summarizes The New York Times, adding an array of opinions in favor of and against "Czechia".

Some countries change their names for ideological reasons (the Soviet Union), some as part of a break-up (Bangladesh) and some on a dictatorial whim (Myanmar). It is a bit of a relief that the Czech Republic wants to change its name—or rather, the way it is referred to in English—simply for stylistic reasons, says The Economist. Indeed. “This whole renaming exercise is the tail wagging the dog. The real problem these days is what is going on with the country — not with the name of the country, ” Czech sculptor David Černý states in the above mentioned NY Times article.

According to Bloomberg, Czech citizens haven't been asked their opinion, but the move makes some sense: It'll be easier to put the new name on hockey jerseys, for example. Perhaps other nations in Europe and the former Soviet Union also should take a long hard look at their geographical appellations.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka reiterated that the shortened, informal name "Czechia" would not replace the official name of the country "the Czech Republic".



Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic