I wasn't the first to do so, but throughout the book, I championed the name.
In 2016, the Czech government finally supported Czechia.
In 2017, I wrote an article on Forbes, where I declared that Czechia has won the war for the country's short name.
As I expected, I got a few passionate emails and comments from people (mostly Czechs) who dislike the article. Here's one of the most prolific ones. I answer it inline:
Dear Mr. Tapon,
I recently read your article on Forbes, entitled “Czechia Has Won The Czech Republic Name Debate”, which was unfortunately linked to me by a friend. I felt I ought to share to you my thoughts, especially those regarding your ignorance of the issues involved. However, I must, before all, concede the quality of the article is be good, and that I respect you as a journalist willing to publish content relevant to Central and Eastern Europe. However, I write this email to you in an effort to express views that, for one reason or another, appear not to have been exposed to you.
Firstly, I had the pleasure of reading your article, which is well written, but I was dumbfounded by the content within it. As all should do with online journalism, I quickly checked the link through Forbes and discovered your position as a “Global Nomad”. I further investigated your trip to Europe—and uncovered your book “Hidden Europe”. Angered by the title, I came no further than the table of contents before I was absolutely appalled by the attitude you demonstrated towards Eastern Europeans, and almost every group you described in each chapter.
I would like to mention, beforehand, that this email is hastily and angrily written. Please be warned, and do not be insulted. I tried to avoid blunt wording whenever possible, but sometimes the anger shines through.
My first reason for anger is the description of Eastern Europe as “Hidden”. This description is almost an insult; destinations in Eastern Europe have seen the same growth in tourism in the past 5 years that Western Europe has seen in 20. I would have excused this title if this book was written 15 years ago, but nonetheless I continued on to discover more.
To understand how and why I classify 25 European countries as being part of "Eastern Europe," please read the excerpt of my book's introduction. I also answer comments there too.
If you're too lazy to read, then understand that "hidden" isn't an insult. It's simply to reflect a reality that when most people talk about "Europe" most people think of Western Europe and Eastern Europe. That fact is neutral. Just like when people think of America, they think of Hollywood and NYC, and not Nebraska or South Dakota.
The second reason for my distaste was the choices in titles for chapters written within. I cannot list them all, but I felt I could highlight the few that are blatant insults to the people who live there, regardless of who you ask. The first is the Czech Republic. I am an ethnic Czech, and it took me no more than 2 words to become infuriated enough to begin writing this letter. I understand that the preface of your book highlights how you describe “Eastern Europe”, but your methodology chooses to group obviously-separated lingual, cultural, and ethnic groups in one category for simplicity. Not only does this practice associate millions more individuals to be associated with the dreaded and impoverished image of “Eastern Europe”. Do not downplay me mentally with “all _______s wish they weren’t in Eastern Europe”, it is individuals like you who knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate the ignorant America-centric view that describes Slavs in the same group as the Finns and the Greeks. I understand you may currently be on your mission to tour all the countries of Africa—but I hope you do not pile the even greater diversity of African cultures and ethnicities into the metaphorical garbage can of “Africans”. However, the next three words in the title did nothing to remedy the first two. “Most civilized country”? If I would be blunt in asking, is being civilized a contest? Should I remind you, and millions of others, that Slavic cultures are just as old as and sometimes even more well-preserved than those in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom? I ask you to consider how insulted you would be, if your country of birth was forced to compete with others—like piranhas—for simple, worthless titles like “most civilized”? I don’t wish to drag this on much further, but I felt I’d ask you to rethink some of these names; “poor, town, and drunk”, “a shadow of its former self”, “stumbling forward”, and worst of all “honey, are we still in Eastern Europe?”. While I can’t speak to the content of these chapters, I ask for you to sympathize with the millions of people whose national identities have been bashed for centuries, only to have this impression continue decades after the fall of communism.
I'm glad you didn't judge my book by its cover.
But judging it by its table of contents isn't that much better.
Read the book before getting pissed off about it.
It costs 5 euros to get the 750-page ebook. So it's a bargain.
I promise you that you'll be pleasantly surprised.
If you buy it on my website, I'll refund your money if you're not happy (it's $10 on my website).
I doubt you'll buy it.
You seem too comfortable to just complain about something that you haven't read. I hope I'm wrong.
On to the article—my original point of frustration. This is one of the misunderstandings reserved for Americans and the British, a classic debate from people who have no connection, no understand of the underlying issues related within. You, specifically, wish to call “Czechia” the victor of the name of this debate. You call the post-Velvet period as one where “…the Czech bureaucrats once again failed to promote a catchy English name of their new country”, in a country where the governmental system had been so perfected by underground democratic networks in the Communist period. Say what you wish, but turning the Czech Republic into an economic powerhouse practically overnight leaves little room to satisfy American’s needs for simple, dumbed-down names. I will admit Czechoslovakia is long and hard to understand, and I cringe whenever I hear its continual use 25 years after its death. However, Czech Republic is a name that describes what the Czech Republic is: Czech, and a proud republic, a demonstration of the democracy that had been so denied from Czechs for decades. It hurts even more to discover that all of these are downplayed in the article for a simple beer joke (“They were obviously too busy doing more important activities, like drinking their legendary beer.”).
You're behaving as if someone is taking away the Czech Republic name.
Don't worry. You're still a Republic, just like France is still, legally and official, the French Republic.
You go further to say that Czechs are “unable” to realize that our name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. However, I don’t remember where in the modern world it was dictated “all Slavic languages must dumb their basic consonant structure so that English speakers can enjoy another luxury of speaking the world’s dominant language”.
All languages "dumb down" the names of nations. Spanish, Japanese, and French all call the United States of America something quite different to make it easy for native speakers to say it.
The difference is that English speakers have asked the Czechs to tell us what their short-form name should be.
Your two counter-examples are Holland (keep in mind thousands of Dutch are instantly infuriated by your inability to recognize the 10 other provinces that exist) and the Gambia (I guess you can confirm yourself whether or not Gambians are satisfied with their history of English colonization, especially the minute details of the status of their Anglo name). Can I ask about “Bosnia and Herzegovina”? Would you mind explaining to me where the “BosHer” name movement is? I might be blunt, but it is no surprise in a world full of “-stans” that maybe the English opinion about a country’s most common name is sometimes not cared about.
Just because there are many cumbersome country names out there doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to improve some of them.
It is solely of the English speakers who tour my country of the Czech Republic for a week, months, maybe even a year who wish to declare themselves staunch defenders of the Czechia name. You yourself even describe Czech government sites which support the change, but the link to http://www.hrad.cz/en, unfortunately, includes “CR” across most headers, short for “Czech Republic”. A Ctrl-F search brings no mention of "Czechia". You go on to describe two other examples; Finland and Albania, who clearly are not trying the same thing. Yet, you seem to conclude that Czechs, somehow, are. Of course, as all “Czechia” apologists usually do, you choose to describe the Czech Republic like Burma, Leningrad, and Beijing as similar examples of slow-moving change. Yet, in each of these examples, the people behind these changes were usually in support.
Continuing on, you go on to describe Czechia as an old name, described as mentioned in latin 400 years ago. If I may intercede, the United States was also called Freedonia, Appalachia, and Alleghany at one point or another, according to Wikipedia. Just because a name has existed once, does not give it credit to beat another that has been in common use for 25 years. "Czechia" is simply a raw translation of "Česko", a word which I would say hardly signifies the same implied meaning as something like "Russia" and "Germany", which are much more agreeable to their native counterparts. Lastly, you choose to justify Czechia’s success in terms of social media statistics, all of which I consider more of a result of Google’s internet dominance and influence regarding their change of the name, rather than any genuine policy shifters. I suggest you visit https://trends.google.com/trends/explor ... 20Republic and discover for yourself that the actual usage of “Czech Republic” has hardly been impacted by of the revelations of “Czechia” in the past year. Interestingly, the only recognizable peaks occur during Summer Olympic events.
However, I believe I cannot influence your view as someone who has visited my country for, most likely, a week or month at most. I find your title as “Global Nomad” fascinating, but more than not I wish I could show you the Czech culture and realize the only voices speaking for your side are speaking your own. If you have any questions regarding my points, don’t hesitate to contact me. If you wish to respond in the same blunt and rude way that I did, I will understand. The contents of this email are hardly intended to be rude or insulting, but I fear that my distaste for the information presented may appear as an insult to your profession or your experience.
I appreciate your bluntness.
We'll just have to disagree with Czechia's short-form name.
Lastly, I'll confess that I hate the name of the USA. It's usurped the "America" label, which is unfair for all the other "Americans" (Canadians and Latin Americans).