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18-11-2019, 09:00 UTC
Living Czech

Dr. Livingston I presume...

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Hello and welcome to Living Czech. I'm Nick Carey and I'm joined in the studio today by Linda Mastalir. Our theme for today is Czech surnames, and they can be a varied and colourful bunch.

There are, of course, some forms of Czech names that are common in every language. These are surnames that denote a different nationality, such as the name French in English or Böhm in German, which means Bohemian. In Czech we have Pra¾an, or a native of Prague. There is also Èech, Bohemian, Moravec, Moravian, and Slezák, or Silesian. Moving outside the Czech Republic, we have pan Nìmec, or Mr. German, pan Slovák, Mr. Slovak, and even pan Turek, or Mr. Turk.

Another group of surnames that is common throughout the world, are those linked to trades. There is the obligatory pan Kováø, or our very own Mr. Smith. Interestingly enough, though, there is also a pan Nekováø, which as far as I have ascertained literally means Mr. Not-a-smith. There is also pan Zeman, a name now familiar to us all thanks to the Czech Prime Minister Milo¹ Zeman, which means yeoman.

One of the most interesting areas of Czech surnames are adjectival in form. We have pan Smutný, who is Mr. Sad, and pan Veselý, who is Mr. Happy. Some of the more bizarre ones are pan Tlustý, or literally Mr. Fat, pan Tichý, Mr. Quiet, and pan Hedvábný, or Mr. Silky. Another gentleman worthy of mention is pan Syrový, or literally Mr. Raw.

Names related to animals are also fun. There is pan Veverka, or Mr. Squirrel, pan Holub, Mr. Pigeon. My two personal favourites are pan Je¾ek, Mr. Hedgehog, and pan Køeèek, Mr. Hamster. One surname known to all of us is Kafka, which is directly related to the word Kavka, or jackdaw. It can also be a slang term for a country bumpkin.

There are names related to fruits and vegetables. There is pan Malina, who is Mr. Raspberry, and his dear friend pan Jahoda, Mr. Strawberry. There is also pan ©vestka, Mr. Plum and pan Køen, or Mr. Horseradish. A special mention here goes to Petr Hník, a Czech friend of mine who helps prepare this show, whose surname, Hník, means a mushroom that grows in dung. It goes further than this, though, as there are surnames for different types of prepared foods. There is pan Buchta, Mr. Cake, pan Preclík, Mr. Pretzel. My absolute favourite for these is pan Chlebíèek, or Mr. Open-faced-sandwich.

Some of the weirdest of all Czech surnames seem to be insults, or just formed for the most bizarre reasons. There is pan Pacháè, which comes from the word pach, or a bad smell, so he is literally Mr. Stinker. There is pan Skoèdopole, which is made up of three words, Skoè meaning the imperative of the verb to jump, do is into, and pole is a field. So, he is Mr. Go-jump-into-a-field. Finally, there is the particularly nasty and unpleasant character, pan Snìdldítìtika¹i, which again is a compound name of Snìdl, which means he ate, dítìti, the child's, ka¹i, porridge. So he is literally Mr. Ate-the-child's-porridge. I am personally glad that I never met him.

Well, that's all we have time for this week. Next week, we will take a look at Czech cuisine. If you would like a transcript of the show, please write to Radio Prague 12099 Prague. Until next week, mìjte se fajn or take care.

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