Photographer: Martin Divisek/Bloomberg

Country of Pils, Jagr and Havel Finally Shortens Unwieldy Name

The Czech Republic has officially adopted a shortened version of its name in English, ending two decades of debate about what the nation should be called in international trade, politics and sports.

“Czechia” may now be used as a substitute, after the United Nations accepted the former communist country’s request to shorten its designation in the global geographical database, Michaela Lagronova, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Prague, said by phone on Monday.

A translation of the Czech language’s shorter moniker “Cesko,” the name solves a dilemma that has persisted since the 1993 partition of Czechoslovakia. The split left many English speakers flummoxed over what to call the new state of 10.5 million people in the areas historically known as Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

“We wanted to finally have an official short name in English, as most other countries do, and as we already do in most other languages, including Czech,” Lagronova said. “We won’t force anyone to use the shortened version, but we wanted to make sure that everyone who does is using it correctly.”

Local authorities had refrained from endorsing any short form until now, with some people referring to the country of playwright-turned-President Vaclav Havel and the birthplace of Pilsner-style beer as “Czech.” It’s that name that graces hockey star Jaromir Jagr’s jersey when he plays for the national team.

But the usage is wrong because it’s an adjective and the name of the language, like “Polish” or “German,” Lagronova said. The new, shorter designation emerged after a debate among linguists, many of who concurred that “Czechia” is the English counterpart of the single-word “Tschechien” in German and “Chequia” in Spanish.

If English speakers adopt “Czechia,” the nation of 10.5 million people can be discussed alongside its neighbors in central Europe without sticking out. Because they are also mouthfuls, the full names of the Republic of Poland, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of Austria and the Slovak Republic are rarely used.

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