I am interrupting normal posting to bring you news. I’m not sure yet if it’s great news or not, but I thought you needed to know why I think Czechia was the wrong choice. I bet by now you have heard this name. As of Monday April 18th, Czechia is the new official shortened name for the Czech Republic. This is similar to Slovakia for the Slovak Republic. They haven’t changed the name, just offered an easier alternative for English speakers, or so they say. From everything I have gathered, Czechia is not a popular choice. Here is a Czech list of some issues:
1. How to shorten Czech Republic? Czech politicians have been debating names for awhile now and couldn’t justify Česko, the shortened version they use in the Czech Republic, because the English language lacks the same sounds and it is reminiscent of Československo or Czechoslovakia.
2. Which shortened version should be used? Some other options that were discussed were Bohemia, Cechy, Czech, and Czechlands. The latter would be my choice. I feel that Czechlands best encompasses the authenticity of the territory that has changed so frequently. I think Czechlands is also more accurate and includes Bohemia or the Czechs, Moravia, and Silesia, the unifying factor of language, and does not leave out the areas that make up the current Czech Republic. I’m afraid Czechia will cause confusion with non European countries and frankly, it sounds lame.
3. Will it be confused? Some people are not happy with the new name because it sounds too much like Chechnya, the semi autonomous country located next to Russia. This is a problem because of the terrorist threat last year with the perpetrators being from Chechnya and the mix up with the Czech Republic.
4. Does anyone know its location? Now, part of our problem here in the states is that most people know absolutely nothing about European geography, let alone history, and even fewer know of our close relationship with the Czech Republic since 1918. We have not always been very good friends to the Czechs, especially during WWII, but our countries hold the bonds of democracy and they want to help us out with their name. Will shortening the name really change its popularity or the likelihood that we will know its location? Probably not.
5. Why the re-branding? The Czech Republic has had a rough history. A re-branding would allow for a change of opinion and distance from its past. Many people still call it Czechoslovakia, but that country hasn’t existed since 1993. Before that, the Czech lands were a part of the Austria-Hungarian empire; subject to humiliation and degradation during WWII in the eyes of a man who thought it should still belong to the German people. He used the land and people to further his goals. Following a brief moment of freedom, the Czech lands were again occupied. This time by the Soviet Union who stole its wealth and exploited its people. Though I understand the desire to remove the bad associations, it’s still a part of who they are, and what made the Czech Republic into the country they are today.
6. How will the change effect the economy? Rumors is Czechia will be more favorable to China who largely imports Czech cars and beer. There has been bad blood between the two countries because of Czech distaste with China’s treatment of its people and continued socialism. In order to mend this relationship, as well as that of Russia, President Zeman has worked toward solidifying itself with the worlds largest countries.
7. What about all the companies who have Czech or the Czech Republic in their name? This could end up being a huge problem with tourism and commerce. Not everyone will be able to benefit and many will be at a loss because of this name push. No one can be sure how the change will effect the country as a whole.
8. What about the Olympics? The Czech Republic has already been printed on everything for the Olympics, making it even harder for Czechia to become more widely used.
9. What do the people think? Since the Czech population did not have a say in this decision, many are rebelling against the change. From my knowledge the Czech people don’t use Czechia. Why would they need to?
10. Will Czechia really catch on? I’m not so sure. There have been quite a few countries that have tried to re-brand themselves and it didn’t stick.
Czechia is officially in the United Nations geographical names database, but I will not be calling it that anytime soon. I feel that there are just too many issues to ignore. I only listed ten possible problems and I’m sure more will come up. Even though I am a fan of Czechlands, it’s still long for a shortened version. I like the idea of using what the Czechs use with Česko but spelled Czesko since cz is already recognizable from Czech Republic. Most people will at least have heard the name, even if they don’t know where it’s located.
I think if the country really does want to re-brand to move away from past negative associations, it will need to come up with a name that doesn’t include Czech. I don’t necessarily think that is right though. I think there would be more success if the name would be voted for and the population were happy to promote it. Either way, I think Czechia was the wrong choice. I guess we will find out.
Tell me what you think of Czechia below or on facebook!