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Monday, 22 January 2007

English Words of Czech Origin

Absurdistan (in Czech Absurdistán) - word created by Eastern Bloc dissidents, passed into English mainly through works of Václav Havel

dollar - from tolar, a silver coin of the 16th century minted in Jáchymov (German: Joachimstal) ; it is claimed often that this word is derived from a German word thaler from a word Joachimsthaler. Das Tal means “the valley” in German. A correct German name of this coin was Joachimsthaler Grosh.

háček - a diacritical mark, literally "little hook", e.g. č is letter c having háček. Also known as "caron".

howitzer - from houfnice, an 15th century Hussite cannon

kolache – from koláč or koláček.

pils, pilsner, pilsener - from Plzeň, a Czech city

pistol - from píšťala, an 15th century Hussite firearm (disputed—alternative sources have been suggested)

polka - from Polák or polský, a Czech dance named in remembrance of the November Uprising of 1830

robot - from Czech robota (labour, drudgery), introduced in Karel Čapek's play R.U.R. from the 1920s.

semtex - a plastic explosive named afer Semtín, part of the city of Pardubice, Czech Republic, location of its manufacturer.

tunelling - a colloquial term for financial fraud committed by company's own management or major shareholders. Widely used in the Czech Republic (and Slovakia) since the first half of 1990s to describe the massive asset stripping during transition from planned economy.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I've heard the etymology of "Polka" similarly descibed by a Czech teacher; however I found this and view it as equally plausible:

Polka - The name comes from the Czech word půlka, which means a half, and is related to the half rhythm in the music.