Some info about CZECH and SLOVAK
Who speaks Czech?
ÄŒeština is a Slavic language, with about 12 million native speakers, living in the West and the centre of the Czech Republic, specifically in the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and most of Silesia; it is also used in Slovakia as the language of culture and as the liturgical language of the Protestant Church. Speakers of Czech and Slovak usually understand both languages in their written and spoken form, thus constituting a pluricentric language, though some dialects or heavily accented speech in either language might present difficulties to speakers of the other.
In the Czech Republic two distinct varieties or interdialects of spoken Czech can be found, corresponding more or less to geographic areas within the country. The first, and most widely used, is Common Czech, spoken especially in Bohemia. The second major variant is spoken in Moravia and Silesia.
Which family belongs doe Czech to?
Czech belongs to the Western group of Slavic languages along with Slovak, Polish, Kashubian, Sorbian and Slovincian; it is written in Latin characters, to which many diacritical symbols were added, which allow to represent the different nuances of sounds with great ease and precision. Their introduction is due to J. Hus, whose works include an Orthography.
Where does Czech come from?
The first documents which can be considered properly Czech date back to the 13th century, namely some translations, a Chronicle of Dalimil (14th century). In the 14th century we can also locate the important work of Thomas of Štítný (1331-1401): with him the literary language is identified with the speech of Prague. Starting from the 16th century, Czech was supplanted by German in the literary and official uses and it was downgraded to language of popular use. Nevertheless, by the end of the 18th century, with the spread of the Romantic ideology, and with the awakening of nationalism, Czech revived and gave rise to a remarkable literary production.
The name ÄÂĂ‚ÂŤeština, Czech, comes from the Slavic tribe of the Czechs (ÄŒech, pl. ÄŒeši ) who settled in central Bohemia and united the neighboring Slavic tribes under the reign of the PÅ™emyslian dynasty (PÅ™emyslovci). The etymology is unclear. According to a legend, the word and all other items relating to the Czech nation derived from the Forefather ÄŒech, who led the tribe of Czechs into its land.
What are the main linguistic characteristics of Czech?
Among the phonetic characteristics that distinguish Czech from the other West Slavic languages the following are included:
1.- the use of a fixed heavy accent on the first syllable of the word;
2.- the distinction between long vowels and short vowels;
3.- the presence of a laryngeal breathing h;
4.- the dental palatalized t’, d’;
5.- r and l with syllabic value.
- Enciclopedia Grolier