© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
World

Welcome To Czechia: Czech Republic Looks To Adopt Shorter Name

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Three is better than five, at least when it comes to syllables, especially when those syllable are the names of countries.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

So say leaders of the Czech Republic. One minister told reporters in Prague the foreigners he meets on his travels sometimes mangle the full name. The solution - a shorthand version of it just for foreigners. The name that could soon be on Czech products everywhere is.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETR GANDALOVIC: Czechia.

SHAPIRO: That's C-Z-E-C-H-I-A.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GANDALOVIC: Czechia.

SHAPIRO: Thanks to the Czech ambassador to the U.S., Petr Gandalovic, for that pronunciation. This isn't the first time the Czech Republic has tried to change its name. Before 1993, it was joined with its eastern neighbor Slovakia as Czechoslovakia.

SIEGEL: That was always a mouthful - six syllables. And why not use the shorter name? After all, how often do we say - I'm going to take a vacation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

SHAPIRO: And Ambassador Gandalovic says Czech leaders just want foreigners to do the same thing that Czechs are doing inside their country already.

GANDALOVIC: It is quite logical that we want the world to have an opportunity to use a short name of our country in different languages. When it comes to English, the name Czechia is just a mere translation of the word Cesko, which we use to address ourselves in short name.

SIEGEL: But the choice has its critics. Some say...

GANDALOVIC: Czechia.

SIEGEL: ...Sounds an awful lot like the name of another place.

SHAPIRO: The Russian republic of Chechnya. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.