‘Czechia self’: what’s in a name?

Czech flag

By 9am this morning, the Czech Republic was trending in the UK, as news that the country’s parliament is discussing changing its name to ‘Czechia’ hit our media.

Proponents of the name change put forward a range of compelling arguments. For starters, ‘Czech Republic’ is a political term, reflecting constitutional changes brought about by the splitting of Czechoslovakia into two countries in 1993. Secondly, the length of ‘Czech Republic’ means that the shortened ‘Czech’ is already used for some sports team kits and other product branding; ‘Czech’, however, is a reference to the country’s people rather than its geographical location. Thirdly, other countries refer to the Czech Republic using a variety of unofficial shortened versions, which results in confusion.

In much the same way that France is officially the French Republic, Czechia would retain its old name for official purposes. However, by settling on a consistent shortened version, they will be able to present a much clearer ‘brand’ identity; essential for the promotion of their exports abroad.

What we found particularly interesting about this story, however, was not the astute self-awareness of a country considering its international image, but rather the fact that this was such big news for the UK. Taking a look at the trending lists for Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Poland this morning: none of them felt that ‘Czechia’ was as big a talking point as we seemed to. We wondered if this could be indicative of the way we use Twitter (a comparative study would be fascinating), but concluded instead that this could be down to our own lack of international self-awareness.

Our failure as a nation to learn languages to a meaningful level at school and our focus on English as the language in which we conduct international business has been well documented. Whilst German, Italian or Polish children grow up learning that their country is referred to differently in different languages, you’d forgive a British child for getting all the way through school without acknowledging that they live in Royaume-Uni, Spojené království, Birleşik Krallık and Wielka Brytania (French, Czech, Turkish and Polish respectively). Indeed, ‘Britain’ as an international brand is often synonymous with ‘London’, and stereotypes of tea drinking, red telephone boxes and the Queen’s Guard – in spite of the fact that this term actually refers to three countries, each with their own specific identity.

Whilst we’re not about to revamp the whole nation’s export image, Web-Translations can help you to ensure you get your company’s brand identity across clearly to the international market. Our translators are in-country experts who can help determine what will and won’t work for your target readership; ensuring your copy resonates. Contact our Projects Team via sales@web-translations.co.uk for a free quotation.