Pronunciation of Family Name

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by kimba, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. kimba

    kimba Active Member

    My Czech family name is Bures. I know in the Czech spelling of the name the is a divet thingie on top of the 's'.

    My grandfather was very adamant about the pronunciation of the name. His pronunciation was:


    When a Czech person pronounces the name, they say:

    Boo-resh (with a nice curl of the 'r')

    My grandfather said that under no circumstances should I ever pronounce it any other way than his way. I am wondering why? Was there some shift in Czech dialect at one time? Is it a Czech/Slovak difference?

    Or could it just be the Americanization of the pronounciation?

    Anyone know? I have been curious about this for a very long time.
  2. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

  3. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    I would say he just wanted people to know the family had come to America and was AMERICAN, not Czech anymore. Some people have a phobia of foreigners with divided loyalties...
  4. doman

    doman Well-Known Member

    Are you sure about it Ceit ? Maybe he really wanted to know about his ancestor's name...
  5. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    I was referring to the grandfather's adement pronunciation.
  6. kimba

    kimba Active Member

    We (my mom and I) always thought it was some sort of rift between a Bohemian pronunciation and a Slovak pronunciation. I always had the impression that it was some sort of class thing. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that there really was a Czech way to pronounce it.

    He was always very clear that we were Bohemian, not Slovak. They came over at the beginning of the last century, and I've been wanting to research whether or not there was a cultural schism back then. He was very proud of his Bohemian heritage, so I don't think he would want us to pronounce it a certain way to 'hide' our family background.

    That being said, it could just be an Americanization of the name.

  7. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    There is no difference between the Slovak and Czech (or Bohemian) pronunciation, at least not in the basic sounds. Anydifference might be similar to the difference between a New Yorker and a Southern accent. I'm almost 100% sure the way your grandfather said it was an Americanization, as Karel mentioned. I wonder if your grandfather didn't grow up in the Bohemia, or else moved when he was very young.
  8. kimba

    kimba Active Member

    Yes, he did move when he was very young, but he grew up speaking Czech in his family and social group - this was at the turn of the last century as they emigrated in 1906. He died in 1962 when I was five.

    Yes, I think it is the Americanization of the name ... but I couldn't help asking because just as dialects in the US change and get absorbed over time, I thought maybe there was a difference between Bohemian and Slovak Czech, where since the turn of the last century, one overwhelmed the other.

    Thanks everyone!
  9. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Slovaks talk Slovak language. Czechs talk Czech language.
    These languages are very similar, but in spite of it separated.
  10. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Kimba, When my husband (czech) speaks with his father's family (Slovak) he speaks Czech and they reply in Slovak. Although the two communicate well together, they insist that they are speaking two separate languages. Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that Czech & Slovak compares to Spanish and Portuguese. Although both are similar and one can understand the other, the two are different languages. I hope that helps.
  11. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    or perhaps American english and English english :wink:
  12. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I made that comparision to my husband when he first told me that he and his family were speaking separate languages. He insisted then that it's not the same. That American English and English is the same language just different dialects whereas Czech and Slovak are two different languages. :roll:
  13. kimba

    kimba Active Member

    Which is why I originally thought it might be the difference between the two.

    Oh well.

  14. GlennInFlorida

    GlennInFlorida Well-Known Member

    Well, that was just an attempt at a little joke - the comparison to Spanish and Portugese is much more accurate (I speak Spanish and can understand and read about 80 to 90% of Portugese although I can't speak it).

    Regarding the topic - there was an historical attempt to "Americanize" names. I have seen it locally with Latino surnames. When I was in high school, most kids my age that had Spanish surnames used very anglicized pronunciations - no trilled r's, short o's, etc. These days, with a resurgence of Latino pride, you are much more likely to hear the original (and in my opinion, correct) pronunciation. Perhaps that is true of other ethnicities too.
  15. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    I don't think so, this comparison is accurate rather for Czech-Polish differencies.

    A typical Czech understands about 80 % of Polish although he is lost in fast speech and can't speak it.

    A typical Czech understands about 98 % of Slovak even in the fast speach and is able to speak fluently in a comprehensible language which consists of 80 % of Slovak and 20 % of Czech.

    In fact, the differencies between AE and BE are of similar character, but they are much more obvious in Czech and Slovak because of extensive inflection in both languages.
  16. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry Wer, you lost me. I think its because I'm not sure what "extensive inflection" in a language is. :oops:
  17. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Inflection is the modification of words in accordance with theire role in the sentence. It reflects also additional information (gender, animateness, number, tense...).

    Czech and Slovak differ in the system of suffixes, prefixes and infixes (the princip is identical, but the suffixes, prefixes and infixes differ).
  18. dzurisova

    dzurisova Well-Known Member

    Oh now it's much clearer. [sarcasm] :wink: :wink: :lol:

    But seriously, it is a little clearer. I guess your saying that the words in Czech and Slovak are the same but the suffixes, prefixes and infixes are different. At this point in my studies, I really only know what prefixes are but I get the general idea.

    I think my husband's big thing is just to let people know that they are 2 seperate languages for some reason. :roll:
  19. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    There were some theories, that Slovak and Czech are just two dialects of one language, especially in the first half of the last century, but don't say it to Slovaks, they would be very angry 8) 8)
    But seriously: they are separate languages, even if for us, who had been living in this two langauages environment it was (and is) very easy to understand the other one.
    I have no problems reading Slovak books, and asked in which language I read it I would have problems to remember.
    Nowadays the Slovak language is much less frequent in radio and TV and the children are now starting not to understand. :(
  20. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    According to Noam Chomsky, a "language" is nothing but a "dialect that can afford a navy". So whether the Czech and Slovak are two languages is a question of pure convention. In fact, the Han dialect of Chinese is incomprehensible to the speakers of standard Chinese, and there are 50 millions speakres of Han dialect. On the contrary, there 10 millions Czechs and about 6-7 millions Slovaks who understand each other without any problem, still their "dialects" are considered separate languages (they have both their own codification, their own state language institutes,...).

    (paradoxically, according to Chomsky's definition, neither Czech nor Slovak is a language as neither Czech republic nor Slovakia can afford a navy but I am sure you all understand me:))

Share This Page