When citizens of the Czech Republic awake on Friday morning – perhaps from uneasy dreams – they are likely to find that things have changed.
But unlike the bodily transformations undergone by Gregor Samsa, the protagonist in Czech novelist Franz Kafka’s best-known work, they may be about to witness a metamorphosis of national magnitude.
Czech leaders, fed up with their country’s long and complicated full name, have proposed changing it to a single word with just three syllables: Czechia.
In a joint statement, the president, prime minister and other senior officials said they would ask the UN to update its database of geographical names with the new title, in the hope that it might take root before the country competes in the Olympics this summer.
Because inside the country there’s something of a dual meaning. Bohemia and Moravia (and a very small slice of the old Silesia) make up the Czech Republic. And sure, we could say Czechia for the whole. But within the country, at least to the Bohemians, Czechs are Bohemians and Moravians are Moravians. The meaning can slide around a bit: depends a bit upon context.
But I have noted what I thought to be rather amusing, a sign in a wine shop window. “We have Moravian wine” and another one by it “We have Czech wine”. When I asked, well, obviously, Czech means Bohemian and Moravian, Moravian. But, but, Moravia is in Czech! Well, yes and no…..