Who wrote the first Czech grammar

Terms and designations

  • Old Slavonic (later Church Slavonic) - first Slavic written language, church and literary language of south Macedonian origin
  • diacritical marks - Distinguishing signs in the script indicate a different pronunciation. In Czech, there are accents (length characters), háčeks (ticks) and ringlets.
  • dialect - dialect
  • Dialect continuum - smooth transition between the dialects of two languages
  • Common Czech - interdialectal spoken form of Czech in all of Bohemia and in neighboring parts of Moravia in informal communication
  • Glagolitic script (Glagoliza) - Writing of the Old Slavic texts on Czech territory, Constantine (827–869) created them on the basis of the Greek alphabet
  • Interdialect - linguistic structure, used in several dialect areas in mutual oral communication
  • codification - Definition of the language standard
  • medial diglossia - Bilingualism in the media
  • spelling - Spelling, orthography
  • Written Czech (Standard Czech) - used in written and official spoken communication; based on the Central Bohemian dialect
  • Slovak / Slovak - 1) national language of the Slovaks; 2) Term first used at the end of the 18th century for the written Slavic language in Upper Hungary in contrast to Hungarian and Latin
  • synthetic construction - grammatical word functions are expressed with the help of endings
  • Czechoslovak language - in reality either Czech or Slovak; 1920–1938 political construct of the official language of Czechoslovakia (1921: 50% Czech, 23% German, 15% Slovak residents)
  • Colloquially Czech - Written language with simplified features, used in everyday spoken communication

Features in brief

  • West Slavic language
  • Stress on the first syllable
  • Latin script with diacritical marks
  • high proportion of consonants in words
  • synthetic construction, multifunctional endings
  • Linguistic feature: letter r with Háček (alveolar voiced affected vibrant)
  • Dialects: Bohemian - central, southwest, northeast, Moravian - Hanover, Moravian-Slovak, Lachish

Language area

  • Mother tongue of around 10–12 million people in the Czech Republic and abroad
  • Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic. For some time, under the influence of Hussiteism, also international literary language (Poland, Hungary).
  • Official language in Czechoslovakia alongside Slovak (1918–1938, 1945–1993).
  • Today, Czech can be used to a defined extent when communicating with the Slovak authorities.
  • Thanks to the linguistic proximity of the two languages, great mutual understandability, which, however, declined after 1993.


  • Czech Republic (9.5 million speakers) - the official language in Bohemia, Moravia and southern Silesia
  • Slovakia (50–70 thousand speakers) - predominantly Czech-Slovak families from the days of the Federation
  • Poland, Croatia, Austria, Ukraine, Germany, Switzerland, France etc. (waves of migration from the times of Austria, after 1948 and 1968)


  • North America (500–600 thousand speakers) - Czech minorities in Texas, Nebraska, Iowa, Chicago, Toronto
  • South America
  • Australia

Linguistic history

Origin of the language (9th-11th centuries)

  • 6th century - Slavic tribes immigrated to what is now the area
  • 864–867 - Mission of Constantine and Methodius (Cyrillos and Methodios) in Greater Moravia: literary and church language understandable to the people, Old Slavic - sermons, religious (Bible translation), legal literature
  • 10th century - first written evidence of Czech: glosses in Latin manuscripts, Czech influence on Old Slavic texts (Kiev leaves); End of Old Slavonic as the liturgical language; Latin (written language up to the beginning of the 19th century): ›Chronica Boemorum‹, legends; Prague becomes a political, economic and cultural center
  • 11th century - oldest related texts in Czech, no literature yet

Old Czech (12th – 15th centuries)

  • since the 13th century - development of the written Czech language from the Central Bohemian dialect (Prague), first literary monuments in Czech
  • 14.-15. Century - classical literary literature: chronicles (Dalimil chronicle), knight epic (Alexandre epic), legends, satires, legal texts, philosophical writings (Jan Štítný)
  • 15th century - Hussite literature (sermons, treatises: Jan Hus, Petr Chelčický)
  • 1406 - Jan Hus: ›Orthographia Bohemica‹ - introduction of the diacritical marks, simplification of the grammar
  • 1468 - first Czech printed book

Central Czech (16th - 18th centuries)

  • Humanism - Czech language of science, historiography, law, and a stronger focus on Latin
  • 16.-17. - Peak of the written language, golden age, development of educational literature, chronicles (Hájek z Libočan)
  • 1579/1613 - Kralice Bible, work of the Brethren Union (Bohemian Brothers)
  • 1603 - first systematic Czech grammar (Slovak Vavřinec Benedikti)
  • after 1620 - defeat of the Czech estates on the White Mountain - decline of the Czech language, the language of scholars German and Latin, Catholic literature in Latin
  • Czech the Kralice Bible in exile literature (Comenius), folk literature, baroque poetry

German-Czech (since the 19th century)

  • Temporal background: Habsburg Austrian multi-ethnic monarchy with German as the official language
  • End of the 18th century - Joseph II Enlightenment, it is written in Czech again, written language based on the norm from the 16th century.
  • 19th century - »National rebirth« - national language in all areas, journalism, literature, translations; Interest in other Slavic languages; Loan words from German are replaced by newly created words
  • 1809 - 1st modern Czech grammar (Dobrovský - founder of Bohemian Studies)
  • 1835–1839 - Czech-German dictionary (Jungmann): dictionary codification, enrichment of vocabulary
  • 1848 - Czech language of instruction at Czech grammar schools
  • 1858–1874 - the first Czech encyclopedia appears (Riegr)
  • 1880 - Stremayr orders: in the Czech countries of the monarchy, equality of German and Czech in communication with authorities
  • End of the 19th century - Codification of grammar (Gebauer)

20th century Czech, contemporary Czech

  • 1888–1909 - largest Czech encyclopedia (Otto)
  • 1918 - collapse of Austria-Hungary, establishment of Czechoslovakia (languages ​​of the inhabitants: Czech, German, Slovak, Hungarian, Ruthenian, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish)
  • 1920 - the "Czechoslovak language" is legally anchored as the official language
  • 1926 - Foundation of the Prague Linguists' Circle
  • 1939–1945 - Czech universities closed
  • after 1945 - the direct influence of the German fades, Russian influence grows
  • 1993 - disintegration of Czechoslovakia, end of media diglossia (Czech + Slovak)
  • 1994 - spelling reform
  • Present and tendencies: decline in dialects in favor of interdialect, especially under the influence of the media; Moravia: no use of common Czech, as the spoken language of everyday life predominantly common Czech, in Bohemia practically only common Czech; Anglicisms


  • West Slavic language very close to Czech in the Slovak Republic (5 million speakers), foreign communities in North America, Hungary, Romania, former Yugoslavia, ...
  • Dialect continuum to Czech, state border = language border
  • different historical background of the development of the Czech: Slovakia between the 11th century and 1918 under Hungarian influence
  • 14th century - first glosses and Slovakisms in local Czech texts
  • 15-19 Century - Czech as a written language in Slovakia (influence of Hussiteism and Reformation)
  • 16.-17. Century - Slovakization of the written language (center of efforts Trnava / Tyrnau)
  • 1790 - unsuccessful first codification of Slovak (Anton Bernolák)
  • 1836 - Introduction of Hungarian instead of Latin as the official language, aiming for a monolingual Hungarian state
  • since the middle of the 19th century - development of the written Slovak language based on the common Central Slovak dialect (Ľudovít Štúr)
  • 1844 - first publication in written Slovak
  • 1846 - grammar of written Slovak
  • 1863 - Founding of the Matica cultural association (based in Martin / Turz-St. Martin) - promoting the language
  • after 1918 - Slovak branch of the "Czechoslovak language", strong influence of Czech on vocabulary
  • 1931 - first orthographic codification
  • 1940 - Slovak spelling rules, removal from Czech
  • 1945–1989 - Russian influence
  • 1968 - full equality of Slovak with Czech
  • after 1993 - Czech influence even after the separation stronger than in the opposite direction
  • 1995 - Slovak becomes the state language of the Slovak Republic
  • 1997 - spelling changes

Author: Radim Sochorek