Czech is a Western Slavonic language spoken by about 12 million people in the Czech Republic (Česká republika). There are also many people of Czech origin in other countries, particularly the USA. Czech is closely related to Slovak, Polish and Sorbian.

The region where Czech is spoken is traditionally called Bohemia (Čechy) and was named after the Boii tribe who, according to Roman sources, has inhabited the area since at least the 1st century AD. The dialects spoken in Moravia (Morava) are also considered forms of Czech.

Czech literature started to appear in the 13th century. The first printed book in Czech, the story of the Trojan war (příběh o Trójské válce), was published at Plzeň (Pilsen) in 1468. After many years of Austrian rule, during which German was the main language of literature and government, there was a revival of Czech literature at the end of the 18th century.

The most prominent writer during the early period of Czech literature was Jan Hus (1369-1415), a religious reformer who also reformed Czech spelling (české hláskování). He created the system of having one grapheme (letter) for every phoneme (sound) in the language by adding accents (čárka) to some of the letters. As a result, written Czech looks very different to written Polish. For example, in Czech the sound ch, as in church, is written č, but the same sound is written cz in Polish.


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