Czech out this ova-reaction

Czech womanWomen in the Czech Republic belong to the significant males in their lives, not in terms of being objects, but because their names say so.  The feminine surname suffix -ova is added to a woman’s husband’s surname (or her father’s when she is unmarried), and signifies possession by the male.

It is a core principle of the Czech language (and other Slavic languages), and it becomes difficult to talk about a woman if she does not have the -ova at the end of her name.  So when Lucie Kundra took her husband’s surname as it was written (that is, she didn’t change it to Kundrova), she caused more than a few ripples in a society where refusing to follow this norm can even get you fired.  She is dedicated to fighting for equal opportunities and is trying to promote changes through language, as it is such a core part of society and culture.

It is even common practice to “Czech-ify” the surnames of foreigners, especially in the Czech media.  For example, the US Secretary of State is called Hillary Clintonova, signifying that she belongs to her husband.

For the full story, and more ova-done puns, check out Henry Chu’s article in the LA Times.  For more information about learning Czech, visit the Language Trainers homepage.

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