4

I would really like to know how this question is not off topic:

While Slovakia is an acceptable short name for the Slovak Republic, it seems that Czechia should not to be used for the Czech Republic. Why?

Is it ok to use Czechia as the name of the country?

The question basically sets aside the linguistic topic (the analogy from Slovakia) and then asks why. I mean, the question eliminates the major linguistic reason as it is presented.... there is no other possible 'why' or 'should' about it. The only thing that can be said is to offer another opinion or to say that a country can call itself what it wants.

How is this not opinion based, as far as an English word goes? Even 70% of Czechs said they didn't like it.

If the answer is largely based on history and geography then one has to draw the line somewhere and say this is a social sciences question.

The only possible tie-in to English is that Czechia follows the pattern of Slovakia. The question eliminates this from the get go. Anyway is not necessarily an established pattern. The accepted answer talks about historical English, which is also officially off topic per the help section.

| |
  • 4
    I can see your argument for "off topic" as it relates to history... but I don't see how it's an opinion to ask why we use one term rather than another. That's a piece of info that can be backed up with facts... – Catija Apr 15 '16 at 23:01
  • 3
    The answer to a question doesn't necessarily make the question off topic. The question is about English and it can be objectively answered. – ColleenV Apr 16 '16 at 0:23
  • 4
    I think it is off topic; there were 3 standing close votes on the question, and I cast the last one (before seeing this meta post). I don't think it's opinion-based at all, I just don't see how it's related to English. It's about what noun people from a country use to describe themselves; nothing in that sentence says "English" to me. – WendiKidd Apr 16 '16 at 18:28
  • @WendiKidd Because I've been neck deep in tax season, I missed the news item about Czechia and I completely misinterpreted what the question was about. I would still vote to close though, if only because it didn't have enough context. – ColleenV Apr 16 '16 at 20:55
  • 1
    The topic has lots of relationships with the history, logic, structure of words, politics, random emotional attachment to words and people defending words, and so on. But according to the Czech laws, the correctness of similar words is still being decided by very particular institutions - political, standardization, and linguistic institutions. So the question whether a word is OK is undoubtedly legitimate, it is a question about the language, and the answer boils down primarily to the decisions of the institutions. The "okayness" may also describe the contexts in which the word is OK or not. – Luboš Motl Apr 20 '16 at 9:59
3

I mentioned this in a comment, but upon reflection I think it deserves an answer of its own.

This question is legitimate but should be moved from ELL to EL&U. The question "Why has it previously been considered standard to say Czech Republic and Slovakia but not Czechia?" is indeed interesting and worthy of Q&A. But the sorts of questions I understand ELL to be for are more like, "Is it standard to write Czechia?"

Although even the latter question has quite a bit of nuance, given that the Czech parliament has expressed its wishes, and such wishes tend to be taken fairly seriously (cf the Ukraine vs. Ukraine; Mumbai and Kolkata vs. Bombay and Calcutta, Myanmar vs. Burma, Beijing vs. Peking, etc.).

| |
  • 1
    When I first read it I thought it was much more suitable for ELU. – Alan Carmack Apr 17 '16 at 14:27
4

Understanding patterns, rules and exceptions in the English is helpful in learning the language, because it means you have to devote less brainpower to remember everything. While I think it could be on-topic at ELU, that shouldn't mean it's off-topic here.

In addition, the close reason currently described as the community consensus, of it being "General reference" is grossly inaccurate.

| |
  • Romania is called Romania, not Romany and Germany is called Germany, not Germania. How is that a pattern or exception? Is there even any reason why these two countries are called differently even though the names have the same etymology? If someone asks "Can Romania be called Romany?", would it be on-topic? I don't think the question is general reference. I think the question is off-topic because it is a question about a proper noun. – user24743 Apr 19 '16 at 5:41
  • Regarding the "general reference" diagnosis--I think that stems from a poorly defined original question. (I tried extensively editing it, but that edit appears to have been rejected.) "Is it ok to use the name X?" is never going to be an effective SE question because it depends on so many nuances of what is considered OK; I can understand why one possible interpretation would be, "Is this standard?" which a dictionary can answer (debatably). For me the interesting question isn't whether it's "OK" (entirely context dependent!) but why it was considered non-standard in the first place. – CynicallyNaive Apr 20 '16 at 19:02
  • @Rathony If the Parlamentul României declared the official English short name of their own country to be Romany, then yes, there could be some interesting questions to come out of that--probably better suited for EL&U. – CynicallyNaive Apr 20 '16 at 19:05
  • @CynicallyNaive What makes you think it was considered non-standard in the first place? There is no standard in a proper noun. Who decides the standard? Writing the first letter of a proper noun in a lower case is non-standard from a grammatical and stylistic point of view, but why would "iPhone" be so popular while it is non-standard? Why would you try to salvage a question that is off-topic? I think your edit was rejected because the question is not salvageable. – user24743 Apr 21 '16 at 5:50
  • " There is no standard in a proper noun." This is untrue. Dictionaries include proper nouns. I shouldn't expect to be taken seriously if I make up my own spellings of country names. This implies there is a standard. – CynicallyNaive Apr 21 '16 at 20:31
  • 1
    @CynicallyNaive Do you think dictionaries would include a name of a small village in the Republic of Chile? I really don't understand what you are trying to prove here. The reason why dictionaries include some proper nouns is they are popular and chances are very high that people might look them up. – user24743 Apr 22 '16 at 18:45
0

I am one of the two close-voters and the reason why I cast the vote was that a question about a proper noun is not about English Language Learning, but about that's what it is and that's the way it is historically and culturally.

The way one country and its people are called is unique to its own history and it is not entirely influenced by English words or their etymology, in other words, it has nothing to do with English, especially when it is related to a country where English is not a native language.

If a user asks, "there are four countries in the UK, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Why is Wales not called Waleland or Walesland?", it would not be considered as on-topic because Wales is what has been called by people for a long time.

I agree with you that we should draw the line on this kind of question and we should close it.

Czech Republic to be known as 'Czechia'

Why? The linked article states that it is "to make it easier for companies and sports teams to use it on products and clothing."

Even though the question could be answered with facts objectively, the question is off-topic.

| |
  • "that's what it is and that's the way it is" -- Perhaps this fits better in EL&U? An uncurious language learner may just be satisfied to know that this is the way it is, but there's clearly some room for interesting factual discussion about why. – CynicallyNaive Apr 16 '16 at 22:45
  • @CynicallyNaive Why is it? or Why should it be or should not be used? type of question basically doesn't work well on ELU especially when it is related with a proper noun. They can call it whatever they want. Nobody calls "France" the French Republic unless in the official document and that's the way it is. Chezchia might sound more fancy to some people than the Chech Republic and might not to others. Who decides this? The Chech people or its government will decide it and it is out of scope for an English Language community. – user24743 Apr 17 '16 at 5:21
  • But what I'm suggesting is subtly different. Not "Why should it not be used?" but "What historical/cultural/political forces led to the situation where the Czech parliament felt it had to make this statement?" Your version is purely normative, and I agree that normative questions are not the intended use of Stack Exchange. But there are plenty of linguistic nuances here. Frankly, I've gotten really curious about this question! – CynicallyNaive Apr 17 '16 at 5:27
  • Although to be fair I hadn't read the original question. I agree that "Is it OK..." should be closed. The question is never about what's OK, just what's standard. In fact, I might consider proposing an edit to the question. – CynicallyNaive Apr 17 '16 at 5:31
  • @CynicallyNaive There should be clear distinction. Both ELL and ELU are English communities. Netiehr Chezh nor Chezhia is an English word and neither has any English etymology. Nokia is called Nokia because it is a name created by its founders. It could have been Noke, Nooke, and Nuke, etc. The same applies to Nike. The question is better suited on History Stack Exchange. The question is not about English. – user24743 Apr 17 '16 at 5:35
  • 1
    Then why is Germany standard in English? Certainly not because it's a brand name concocted by the Deutscher Bundestag! Proper names do indeed have etymologies, sometimes interesting ones. Discussion of etymologies is a linguistic topic as well as a historical one. – CynicallyNaive Apr 17 '16 at 5:38
  • 1
    @CynicallyNaive Why is Germany standard in English? Because English borrowed it from Latin Germania and decided to use it and it has become the way it is. Etymology is out of scope for ELL and it is on-topic on ELU. However, it won't take a long time for five voters to close it if you ask what is the etymology of a proper noun unless any specific concern is clearly stated. I am not denying the question could be interesting, I am saying it is not on-topic. – user24743 Apr 17 '16 at 5:44
  • 1
    I think we're at a dead end but perhaps at a consensus that some reformulation of this question could work at EL&U. I've made an attempt to edit it into a non-normative question that, IMO, would be reasonable to move to EL&U. – CynicallyNaive Apr 17 '16 at 5:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .