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Most of the people in the Czech Republic speak the Czech language. Czech is a Slavic language related to Slovak, Polish and Russian. However, Czech was not recognized as an official language until 1877 in Bohemia and 1905 in Moravia. It was seldom used as a written language until the late 1800s. Except for modern records of the 1900s, records in the Czech Republic were written mostly in Latin and German. Other languages sometimes used in Czech records include Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

Contents

Česká abeceda/The Czech Alphabet

A, a, Á, á B, b C, c, Č, č D, d, Ď, ď E, e, É, é, ě F, f G, g H, h Ch, ch I, i, Í, í J, j K, k L, l M, m N, n, Ň, ň O, o, Ó, ó P, p Q, q R, r, Ř, ř S, s, Š, š T, t, Ť, ť U, u, Ú, ú, ů V, v W, w X, x Y, y, Ý, ý Z, z, Ž, ž

The Czech alphabet uses several letters in addition to the 26 letters used in the English alphabet. These are á, č, ď, é, ě, í, ň, ó, ř, š, ť, ú, ů, ý, ž. The letter combination ch is also considered a single letter and is alphabetized after h. Letters q, w, x are used only in words of foreign origin.

Czech dictionaries and indexes use the following alphabetical order:

a,á  b  c,č  d,ď  e,é,ě  f  g  h  ch  i,í  j  k  l  m  n,ň  o,ó  p  (q)  r,ř  s,š  t,ť  u,ú,ů  v  (w)  (x)  y,ý  z,ž 

Pronunciation

A
a
:
o

sound in on

Á
á
:
a

sound in father

B
b
:
b

sound in back

C
c
:
ts

sound in bits

Č
č
:
ch

sound in chat

D
d
:
d

sound in dog

Ď
ď
:
g

sound in ginger

E
e
:
e

sound in led

É
é
:
ea

sound in wear

Ě
ě
:
ye

sound in yes

F
f
:
f

sound in fast

G
g
:
g

sound in gas

H
h
:
h

sound in help

CH
ch
:
ch

sound in loch (aspirated)

I
i
:
i

sound in sit

Í
í
:
ee

sound in bee

J
j
:
y

sound in youth

K
k
:
k

sound in kiss

L
l
:
l

sound in land

M
m
:
m

sound in man

N
n
:
n

sound in new

Ň
ň
:
ny

sound in canyon

O
o
:
o

sound in home

Ó
ó
:
oa

sound in boat

P
p
:
p

sound in peak

R
r
:
r

sound in ran (often rolled)

Ř
ř
:
rsh

sound like 's' in marsh

S
s
:
s

sound in sun

Š
š
:
sh

sound in shoe

T
t
:
t

sound in top

Ť
ť
:
ty

sound like 't' in tune

U
u
:
u

sound in put

Ú
ú
:
oo

sound in pool

Ů
ů
:
oo

sound in pool

V
v
:
v

sound in van

Y
y
:
i

sound in bit

Ý
ý
:
ee

sound in bee

Z
z
:
z

sound in zoo

Ž
ž
:
zh

sound like 's' in measure

Qq, Ww, Xx

are used in foreign words only

NOTE: the letter combination “CH" is treated as a single character and is alphabetized after the letter “H”

Grammar

Czech language is highly inflective, words may have different endings depending on usage.

  • Josef, syn Antonína Ryby a Anny roz. Novákové = Josef, son of Antonín Ryba and Anna Novaková
  • Manželství mezi Michalem Dostalíkem a Anežkou Marii Seidlerovou = Marriage between Michal Dostalík and Anežka Marie Seidlerová

Language of the Records

A basic knowledge of a few languages is required to read Czech records. Obtain a copy of the various genealogical lists available at the Family History Library or click on the links below.

Reading Old Texts

Here are some letter combinations you may encounter in the old texts and their modern equivalents:

cz read as c or č
cž/čz read as č
rz/rž read as ř
ss read as š
g read as j
y read as y or j
j read as í
v read as u (at the beginning of words)
ie read as ě
au read as ou
w read as v

Language Aids

Czech Genealogical Word List

German Genealogical Word List

Latin Genealogical Word List

Polish Genealogical Word List

See the examples of the Czech Script Alphabet at a to m n to ž


 

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