The spotlight is on one of the most quintessential features of the Czech language, the feminine ending ‘–ová’ on all women’s surnames. Strictly speaking, this grammatical rule indicates that wives ‘belong’ to their husbands, and that’s why many think it’s out of date.
Czech women will soon probably be able to drop this suffix, as reported by Blesk.cz.
The Lower House’s Committee on Public Administration and Regional Development has recommended changing the amendment to the law on birth registers, names, and surnames.
A final decision will be taken between the end of May or the beginning of July.
“Women should have an option to make their own choice, and a growing number of Czech women prefer to use the masculine form of their surname,” says Pirate Party MP Ondřej Profant.
However, not everyone agrees with the change. The Czech linguists Karel Oliva says that “without the suffix –ová, we will be unable to express the gender and it could bring up some discrepancies in communication.”
Until 2004, every woman who married in the Czech Republic and wanted to change her name had to adopt a feminine surname, unless her husband was a foreigner whose name ended in a vowel or she was a registered member of a Czech minority group, such as the Germans. A law passed in 2004 allows all foreign women, and Czech women who marry foreign men, to adopt their husband’s exact surname.
As in English-speaking countries, some Czech women decide to keep their maiden name after marriage or adopt a double surname. A couple can also agree to both adopt the woman’s surname, with the husband using the masculine form.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if the child is a foreigner, is a daughter of a parent with a nationality other than Czech, or will be living most of her life abroad, parents need to fill out a special form to make sure she does not receive the suffix.