Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Men's and Women's Surnames

Expand Messages
  • sandman6294
    I didn t realize it was a law and not just tradition: RU http://www.praguepost.com/P03/2004/Art/0304/news7.php Foreigners who marry here, and some Czech
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 23, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      I didn't realize it was a law and not just tradition:



      "Foreigners who marry here, and some Czech brides, may avoid -ova

      By Lenka Ponikelska
      Staff Writer, The Prague Post
      (March 4, 2004)

      With Czech women famous for their beauty and Prague known for its
      romantic atmosphere, it is little wonder that 35 percent of marriages
      registered at Prague 1 City Hall involve nationalities other than

      Couples walking down the aisle here have a last hurdle to clear
      before heading off on their honeymoon: choosing the bride's last

      Traditionally, the last names of all women married here are formed in
      accordance with Czech grammar rules that add feminine endings of -ova
      or -a to all masculine surnames. Hence, you might meet Jan Novak,
      whose wife is Jana Novakova.

      This rule is set to change due to a bill on registries that the
      Chamber of Deputies approved late last month. The bill will allow
      Czech women who marry foreigners or who have permanent residence
      abroad to keep their surname in the masculine form instead of using
      their feminine derivatives. The same would apply to foreign women
      marrying in the Czech Republic.

      Lucie Malakova, a Czech who married an American, Richard Malak,
      admits the feminine version of her name is a source of humor for her
      in-laws back in America.

      "My relatives don't understand the difference between Malak, Malakova
      or Malakovi," she said. "Once, some e-mail arrived with the name
      Malakova and my father-in-law deleted it because he thought he didn't
      know the person. Also, we're used to receiving mail addressed to Mr.
      and Mrs. Richard Malakova."

      Although Malakova takes the issue in stride, other women in the same
      situation have stronger feelings.

      Kamila Murphy, 35, executive manager of the Czech Society for Human
      Resources Development, said she didn't want to add -ova to her name
      after she married an American.

      "I was relieved to find out that Czech legislation allows an
      exception for that rule when the husband's name ends with a vowel, as
      in our case," she said. "If I became Murphyova instead of Murphy it
      wouldn't just be the spelling but also the Czech pronunciation of my
      surname that would be weird."

      Masculine surnames

      The Chamber of Deputies passed the bill Feb. 24. If subsequently
      passed by the Senate, it will allow women marrying foreigners or
      living abroad to use a masculine version of the surname and would
      grant the same right to foreign women who marry here.

      At present, Czech women can opt for the masculine surname -- but only
      if they are a member of one of the minority nationalities recognized
      by Czech officialdom: Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, Polish, German,
      Romany, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Ukrainian or Ruthenian. Czech
      passports identify both the holder's citizenship and nationality.

      Pavel Hrncir, the Civic Democrat deputy who entered the provision
      into the bill, told the Czech News Agency it's unfair that for a
      woman who prefers to keep the masculine version of a surname, "it
      actually means giving up Czech nationality."

      Jana Talmanova, head registrar at Prague 1 City Hall, said she is
      asked 10 times a week about keeping the masculine version of a
      surname. "It is a general rule that women marrying foreigners want to
      avoid adding -ova to it," Talmanova said.

      She said the current law has forced many women to give up their Czech
      nationality. "Sometimes it's so absurd that brides of Czech
      nationality want to be registered as Greeks, Ukrainians or

      The same rule applies to foreign couples coming here to marry, often
      leading to bizarre results, said Jana Masopustova of the Prague City
      Hall registry.

      "When Mr. Parker marries Mrs. Parker here, it is not just her but all
      the female names she has in her documents that have to be changed to
      the Czech feminine version, according to the law," Masopustova
      said. "So when she arrives back in America, I can imagine how hard it
      must be to explain to the officials there how she got this -ova added
      to her name. The result is she has documents with two different

      Karel Oliva, head of the Institute for Czech Language at the Czech
      Academy of Science, explained the linguistic reason for adding the
      feminine endings to surnames. "The Czech language has a declination
      system that applies to names also. When you keep a masculine version
      for a woman it becomes undeclinable and it sounds strange," he
      said. "The problem is insoluble, and every solution here is a bad

      Some women don't want to abandon the tradition.

      "Although I married an American, I am Czech and I don't feel [that] I
      need to adopt an American style," Malakova said. "If I would have a
      masculine version of my surname, I'd feel I was losing my

    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.