Specific differences in words meaning Czech

Discussion in 'Vocabulary & Translation Help' started by akriesman, Jun 29, 2004.

  1. akriesman

    akriesman New Member

    Hello people,

    I have been learning Czech for about 4 years. I have a very basic question that has always bothered me.

    Can someone tell me the exact differences between the following words ?


    To my knowledge, čech is more specifically a Bohemian, as opposed to someone living in the Czech Republic.

    I have seen references to the fact that čeština stands for the Czech language. Is this true ?

    Is český both an adjective and noun, where the noun represents anyone living in the Czech Republic or of Czech descent (Bohemian or Moravian) ?

    If someone could explain this to me, I would be very grateful. It is something that has puzzled me for some time, and is not explained very well in any of my reference manuals.

    Thanks !
  2. Sokrates

    Sokrates New Member

    Hello Allen,

    čeština = Czech language

    =can be a Bohemian in the meaning as you wrote, and also
    =Czech in the meaning as a citizen of the Czech Republic, i.e.
    Bohemians and Moravians and other nationality together

    český=czech - it is only an adjective

  3. akriesman

    akriesman New Member

    Thank you Anna !

  4. Bohaemus

    Bohaemus Well-Known Member

    Čech (upper case Č!) means neither an inhabitant of Bohemia nor a citizen of the C.R.

    Čech (fem. Češka) is strictly a member of the Czech nation. The Czech nation lives in Bohemia (Čechy), Moravia (Morava) and some part of Silesia (Slezsko).
  5. Dana

    Dana Well-Known Member

    Just to clarify Bohaemus' correct post - the terms 'Čech' and 'Češka' (plural 'Češi'/'Češky') only refer to Czech nationals (people whose nationality is Czech), not necessarily to all inhabitants and citizens of the Czech Republic since those can be of different nationalities. There are Slovak, Polish, American, etc. inhabitants living in the Czech Republic and some of them even have Czech citizenship, but that does not make them Czech by nationality.
  6. Karel

    Karel Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone,

    That virtually means then that a national is only s/he who was born in a particular country. Am I right Dana, Bohaemus?

    A Czech-born American has no right to claim American nationality, do they?

    But what if a mum is Mexican, dad`s Cuban, the baby was born in the USA, and are now living in Australia? Is a 12 hour stopover to give birth enough for the baby to take the country`s nationality? (it should, I suppose, no? The baby`s American, no?)

    Thank you for your input.

  7. Jirka

    Jirka Well-Known Member

    Hi there,

    Anna's (Sokrates') posting is fine to me: The English word Czech has the three meanings and different Czech translations:

    čeština = the Czech language
    český/á/é = the adjective
    Čech, Češka = Czech nationality

    There only seem to be disputes over the usage of the nationality meaning on this thread. In fact, the same problem must logically apply to the adjective meaning as well.

    Some people living or born in Moravia may prefer calling themselves "Moravák" or "Moravan" (he) or "Moravanka" (she) as opposed to "Čech". Moravian dialects of Czech are spoken in Moravia and there are some cultural differences.

    Then there are some language culture minorities in the Czech Republic. Probably the most important ones in contemporary CzechRep are the Romani and Vietnamese. Although they are citizens of the Czech Republic, I wouldn't call them "Češi", but "Rómové" and "Vietnamci", respectively, who are at the same time "občané České republiky". I know that some of them are more ethnic groups than nations, but let's simplify a bit.

    I do believe, agreeing with Anna again, that the practical usage is sometimes a mixup of nationality and citizenship.

    I further believe that the answer to Karel's point is that nationality is a question of personal choice. If you speak the language and feel to be part of a certain culture, why not claim the nationality? The authorities will probably just require you be consistent in that.

  8. Karel

    Karel Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jirka! Interesting stuff.

    I think that your reasoning is very much in line with the Oxford English dictionary definitions.

    citizen - 1) a legally recognized subject or national of a state or commonwealth 2) an inhabitant of a town or city
    nation - a large aggregate of people united by common descent, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory
    national - a citizen of a particular country

    It follows then that the place of birth is not a criterion for claiming one`s nationality.

  9. Bohaemus

    Bohaemus Well-Known Member

    According to the above mentioned definition:

    the Czech nation - a large aggregate of people united by common descent, culture, or language - i.e. the Czech language -, inhabiting a particular state - i.e. the Czech republic - or territory - i.e. Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia.

    The word Čech/Češka means nothing but a member of the Czech nation.

    What's wrong with this predicate, Karel? The place of birth is irrelevant, I never meant it.

    The noun Čech is unambiguous (I hope). On the other side, the adjective český has two meanings:

    - pertaining to the Czech nation, e.g. český jazyk a literatura, Česká republika, also the substantivized neutrum Česko, etc.

    - pertaining to Čechy (Bohemia), only in the geographical sense: Český Krumlov - Moravský Krumlov, Český kras - Moravský kras, etc.
  10. Karel

    Karel Well-Known Member


    If the Czech nation doesn`t consist of Czech citizens, then who are its nationals? The Oxford definition says that a national is a citizen of a particular country, which you deny. By definition, CZECHS are Slovaks, Vietnamiese/whoever holding Czech citizenship. (it wasn`t you who denied this though) Some Czech nationals also live outside the CR.

    The place of birth is irrelevant? I think it matters a lot where you are born. I believe that people born in the USA travel on US passports. To get a US passport one must become a citizen. A citizen equals a national.

  11. nikdo

    nikdo Well-Known Member

    Čech (fem. Češka) is strictly a member of the Czech nation. The Czech nation lives in Bohemia (Čechy), Moravia (Morava) and some part of Silesia (Slezsko).

    What a good tautology: Čech is strictly a member of the Czech nation.

    For me, ``Čech'' is either a person who holds the Czech citizenship or those whose mother tongue is Czech and regard themselves as Czechs regardless of where they were born and where they live now. I prefer the first definition (ie Čech=Czech citizen) because it's the only one that is not ambiguous. If I were český Rom/Čech romského původu (Czech Roma) I would be furious if somebody told me that I am not ``Čech''.
  12. Bohaemus

    Bohaemus Well-Known Member

    The English language is somewhat confusing in this case:

    nation = národ
    nationality = 1. národnost 2. státní příslušnost
    national (noun) = státní příslušník
    national (adj.) = 1. národní (pertaining to nation) 2. státní (pertaining to state)

    But národnost is not státní příslušnost (at least in Middle Europe).

    Two opposite examples from recent history:

    Czechoslovakia (before 1968): one state, but two (at least) nations.
    BRD (W. Germany) and DDR (E. Germany): one nation, but two states.

    Thus, the Czech nation doesn't consist of citizens (= nationals) of the Czech Rep.

    I prefer the second definition, although it seems to be vague to a certain extent. If I were Pole living in Český Těšín speaking Polish watching the Polish TV etc. I could be furious if somebody categorically told me that I am "Čech''.
  13. Karel

    Karel Well-Known Member

    The same distinction exists even in English

    nationality 1. an ethnic group forming a part of one or more political nations 2. the status of belonging to a particular nation

    but renders the question "what`s your nationality?" ambiguous.

    Similarly, Čech has at least two meanings: 1. a legally recognized citizen 2. an ethnic group

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