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Czech (čeština)

Czech is a Western Slavic language spoken by about 10 million people in the Czech Republic (Česká republika). There are also Czech speakers in Portugal, Poland, Germany and the USA. Czech is closely related to Slovak, Polish and Sorbian.

Czech at a glance

  • Native name: čeština [ˈt͡ʃɛʃcɪna]; český jazyk [ˈt͡ʃɛskiː jɛzɪk]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, West Slavic
  • Number of speakers: c. 10 million
  • Spoken in: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal, Poland, Germany and the USA
  • First written: 11th century
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet
  • Status: official language in the Czech Republic. Recognised minority language in Slovakia and Poland

The region where Czech is spoken is traditionally called Bohemia (Čechy). It was named after the Boii tribe, who, according to Roman sources, have inhabited the area since at least the 1st century AD. The dialects spoken in Moravia (Morava) are also considered forms of Czech. The language of Bohemia was known as Bohemian until the early 20th century, when it became known as Czech.

Czech literature started to appear in the 13th century. The first printed book in Czech, the story of the Trojan war (příběh o Trójské válce), was published at Plzeň (Pilsen) in 1468. After many years of Austrian rule, during which German was the main language of literature and government, there was a revival of Czech literature at the end of the 18th century.

The most prominent writer during the early period of Czech literature was Jan Hus (1369-1415), a religious reformer who also reformed Czech spelling (české hláskování). He created the system of having one grapheme (letter) for every phoneme (sound) in the language by adding accents (čárka) to some of the letters. As a result, written Czech looks very different from written Polish. For example, in Czech the sound ch, as in church, is written č, but the same sound is written cz in Polish.

Czech alphabet (česká abeceda) & pronunciation

Latin alphabet for Czech

A recording of the Czech alphabet by Zbyněk Bambušek


Recordings in the text by Jan Jurčík

Sample text in Czech

Všichni lidé se rodí svobodní a sobě rovní co do důstojnosti a práv. Jsou nadáni rozumem a svědomím a mají spolu jednat v duchu bratrství.

A recording of this text by Vaclav Dekanovsky


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Czech | Phrases | Weather | Idioms | Tongue twisters | Tower of Babel | Learning materials

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Information about the Czech language

Online Czech lessons and other resources for learners

Learn Czech online with CzechClass101
Learn Czech with Glossika

Online Czech dictionaries

Czech Electronic talking dictionaries

Tlumočení a české překlady cizích jazyků

Online Czech language radio

Online Czech news and magazines

Slavic languages

Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Kashubian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, Silesian, Slovak, Slovenian, Sorbian, Ukrainian, West Polesian

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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