Lawmakers want changes to the “act on names”

In Culture, Language on March 7, 2009 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , ,

There is a certain Czech act that governs the rules on how first names and last names of Czechs shall be given, used, written, etc. And since lately many people have been complaining about the rules, some MP’s decided to introduce an appropriate amendment, the news server wrote.

Let’s have two significant examples, it is kind of interesting that both of them affect women:

If a Czech woman wants to keep both last names (a la Hillary Rodham Clinton), the law (the old one, that is) stipulates that the names be used in reverse order, i.e. husband’s name goes first. It is stupid, if you think about it.  It is like saying “the new name is more important, because it is the new, husband’s name, and the maiden name is attached as if one were saying oh by the way my maiden name used to be…”.

The trends in giving “modern” names have been changing. There are names that really exist but employees of birth records offices who approve names do not dispose of the new lists, so authorized expert’s reports are often necessary (there is just ONE authorized expert in “baby names” in the country).

On the other hand, many women are crazy. They give their children names they heard somewhere abroad, or they decide to give them a middle name that is absolutely “incompatible” with the first name: for example the first name is regular (Czech) and the middle name is “exotic”.

By the way, the most frequent men’s/women’s first names  for the time being (not just newborns) are:

1. Jiri (George) / Marie
2. Jan / Jana
3. Petr / Eva
4. Josef / Anna
5. Pavel / Hana

One of the most important changes with respect to names took place a few years ago. In the Czech language, names are subject to declension just like almost all nouns. And so last names of women are always derived from the masculine version. So, if a Czech man is Richter, his wife would be Richterova. BUT! If an American is named Clinton, his wife, when referred to in Czech, is Clintonova even though she is not Czech. The use of the suffix is obligatory, so that a woman, even foreigner, can be referred to in all Czech grammatical cases.

The change in question consisted in the possibility that Czech women who marry a foreigner do not have to add the typical -ova suffix.

See Wikipedia entry for more info on the very complicated Czech declension rules

One Response to “Lawmakers want changes to the “act on names””

  1. […] Czech Daily Word writes about “the rules on how first names and last names of Czechs shall be given, used, written, […]

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