05 August 2009

Tweet Correction

On July 1st at 8:47am, sirgeoph tweeted:
Only three words have entered English from Czech: polka, pilsner, and robot.

I wondered if he was right. Turns out, he's not! I really like the Czech Republic so here's what you need to know:

Words that we really use in English that came from Czech:
  • dollar - from High German thaler, a nickname for the silver coins that were minted from the ore found in Jáchymov in western Bohemia, called Joachimsthal in German.
  • pilsner - after Pilsen, the German name of Plzeň, a Czech city. The name of the city is derived from Old Czech Plz.
  • pistol - from píšťala, an 15th century Hussite firearm.
  • pram - comes via Dutch from the Czech word prám, referring to such a vessel, though this is interesting since the Czech homeland has no seacoast.
  • polka - from Polák or polský, a Czech dance named in remembrance of the November Uprising of 1830; or from Půlka, in English half because of its tempo.
  • robot - from Czech robota (labour, drudgery), introduced in Karel Čapek's play R.U.R. from the 1920s.
Not to mention:
  • Budweiser - after Budweis, the German name of Budějovice, a city in southern Bohemia.

Ok, he was close.

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