It was a mostly uneventful drive today from Ksamil, in Southern Albania, to the lovely town of Ulcinj in Montenegro, except for about a two hour wait at the border, which we suspect was caused by the border guards taking a three hour lunch.
The event I am blogging about tonight was a small one, just the briefest of passing conversations, but it was significant in that it changed my opinion about an important topic: the correct name of the country I live in and love.
When the news first broke that the new official name in English was to be Czechia and not The Czech Republic I resisted it mightily. I mean, who are they (really – who are they? Who decides these things? I don’t know. Does anybody know?) and what gives them the right to go messing with other people’s country’s names?
On the other hand, it was an astronomers’ conference in Prague that decided for the whole galaxy that Pluto wasn’t to be counted as a planet any more, so what goes around comes around, I guess.
I have argued against the new name on many an internet thread, and given many reasons. Then, while getting gas this morning, the attendant who was pumping our gas (Yes, in that respect Albania is a bit like the U.S. of the 1960s. It was a bit quaint and anachronistic, but also nice) asked where we were from and I said “The Czech Republic.”
“Ah,” he replied. “Czechia.” Well, I certainly wasn’t going to argue with the man while he was pumping our gas, and he was being polite, and he was not wrong. Also, Czechia is easier and you don’t get into arguments and have to keep reminding people to use the article and sounding like a damned pedant, and at least he’s not saying Czechoslovakia, so it’s all to the good.
Also, in the etymology of language, popular usage should be the only rule, and this obviously counts as popular usage.
So, I stand converted. Czechia it is.
2 responses to “Conversion”
Good point, it is always strange to see familiar-ish place names spelt differently in their native language.
Some are similar like Rome – Roma, but others are really different, like Koln – Cologne or Firenze – Florence.