Saturday, 16 April 2016

calling doctor bombay, emergency! come right away

Though Czech is the adjectival form and perhaps the additional republic makes the country sound as if it has to legitimise its standing somehow, the proposal of the Czech Republic (Česká republika) to change its English and hence international handle to Czechia smacks to me like a page from Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis, in waking up to find oneself transformed in order to keep up with the times—those times being rather fickle and unperturbable.
Since the divorce from Slovakia, the country has been known as Tschechien in the German Sprachraum, which to my ears sounded too close to Tschetsschenien (Chechnya) and I feel that this forced change is confusing as well—though not exactly without some historical precedence, going back to latinate-loving Englanders observing the Holy Roman Empire’s tenant states. One has to wonder about exonymy and endonymy and the success rate of rebranding.