CZECH TRANSLATION SERVICES

Why choose ITC for your Czech translation projects?

Over the years, ITC has developed a strong network of translators whose native language is Czech. These linguists have passed several rounds of tests and are evaluated regularly. In addition, the ITC project managers have drawn up language guides to help translators follow the specific rules that apply to Czech.

History of the language: translation into Czech

Czech is a West Slavic language spoken by over 10 million people. It is the official language of the Czech Republic, where most of its speakers reside, and an official language of the European Union. Around the sixth century, a tribe of Slavs arrived in an area of Eastern Europe. According to legend, they were led by a hero named Čech, from whom the modern word Czech originates. Later, the missionaries Constantine and Methodius brought the Latin alphabet to the West Slavs, who previously had no writing system for their language. By the thirteenth century, the language had definitively separated from other Slavic tongues into what would later be called Old Czech. Later in the fourteenth century, Jan Hus contributed significantly to the standardisation of Czech orthography by advocating for widespread literacy among Czech citizens and made early efforts to model written Czech after its spoken varieties. After the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, when the Czechs were defeated and made serfs, Bohemia’s printing industry and linguistic and political rights were dissolved, which meant that the Czech language had no official regulation or governmental support. As a result German quickly gained dominance in Bohemia. In the mid-eighteenth century, however, the language underwent a revival, termed the Czech National Revival, in which Czech academics stressed the past accomplishments of their people and campaigned for Czech to return as the written and esteemed language of high culture. The language has undergone several reforms but has not changed much since that time, barring some minor morphological shifts and the adoption of colloquial elements into formal varieties.

Specific features of the Czech language

The Czech vocabulary comes mostly from Slavic, Baltic and other Indo-European roots. Most loanwords in Czech come from German, Greek and Latin. In recent times, loanwords from a wider variety of languages have arrived, principally English and French. Some Czech words have been adopted as loanwords into English and other languages, e.g. robot and polka.

Czech nouns, verbs and adjectives are inflected by phonological processes to modify their meanings and grammatical functions. In Czech, inflection is particularly complex and pervasive, inflecting for many categories such as case, gender and number of nouns and tenses, aspect, mood and person, and number and gender of the grammatical subject in verbs. Negative statements are generally formed simply by adding the affix ne- to the verb.

Czech has one of the most phonetic and regular orthographies of all European languages: its thirty-one graphemes represent thirty sounds and it contains only one digraph, ch, which follows “h” in the alphabet. The hacek (ˇ) is used with certain letters to form new characters: š, ž and č, as well as ň, ě, ř, ť and ď, which are uncommon outside Czech. Unlike most European languages, Czech distinguishes vowel length: long vowels are indicated by an acute accent while short vowels are left unadorned. Another unusual feature is that in proper noun phrases of more than one word, only the first word is capitalised, e.g. Pražský hrad (Prague Castle). This rule does not apply to personal or geographic names.