LETTER FROM A. A. RUMREICH TO VIVIAN RUMREICH, DATED MARCH 14, 1937
Miss Vivian Rumreich
My Dear Vivian:
I will try to get a short history of the czech (c = read chek) in english for you, if I can get it.
Where the present state Bohemia (state in Czechoslovakia) is, there used to live a tribe by the name of Boya (-h) in prehistoric time, before the Cechs moved in. Hence the improper name Bohemia in other languages, derived from Boyahs.
The Cechs had also, like all other "nations" been divided into tribes, similar to our American Indians. Prussians had also been a relative tribe of Cechs, germanized later on. These relative Slavic tribes had covered the greater part of N.W. Europe, spreading to Baltic in the north, and to the Atlantic in the west, all along and around the river Elbe, originally named and still called in Cech Labe (read Lahbeh).
On the ancient history map, one will find a great big country named Pomorania, which means "by the sea" comprising mentioned Elbe regions. It is claimed, that Berlin is germanized from "Berla", signifying crutch in Cech. There are still some cities near the Baltic with plain Cech names. One of them I remember, being Stettin or Stetin, in plain Cech, Stetin (read Shtehtin) meaning bristly (bristles).
By wars, German tribes had conquered most of their territory, till a small patch, the present state of Bohemia, was left.
Germans were hunters, something like our Indians used to be, while Cechs were peace-loving tribes, employing themselves in tilling the land, (farming).
Another grant territory in Central Europe was settled by Slavic tribes, about the same time as Cechs arrival, and this used to be named Panonia (pronounce in Latin to get it proper).
Panonia covered all of Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, with (capitol) seat at Velehrad in present state of Moravia in Czechoslovakia. Cechs capitol was Praha (read Latin). (Prague).
Later part of ninth century, two brothers, priests, came to Panonia ruler, Svatopluk (?), (Scatohluk?) (Svatofluk?), to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ, Saints Cyril and Methodius, and were kindly received by Svatopluk. Few years later the Cech ruler Borivaj (Borihvoy) was baptized at Velehrad. Borivoj's wife, St. Ludmilla (Liddy) is grandmother to St. Vaclav (Wenceslaus).
Svatopluk (Latin pronunciation) had three sons. Before he died, he tied three sticks together, and gave these to his sons to break them. They could not. Then separating the sticks, gave each son one to break, and all were broken. "So it will be with you" says Svatopluk to his sons, "if you will be joined in harmony and brotherly love, no enemy will break you, while if you separate asunder, your enemies will get the best of you. Remember the stick lesson just demonstrated".
The sons of Svatopluk forgot the stick lesson, and even warred among themselves, to their own detriment. Panonia shrunk to the small present state Moravia as is in Czechoslovakia present.
Later, the Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia became one, under one ruler, Praha being the capitol.
In the 17th century (1620) in religious wars, result of John Hus heresy, the Cechs lost their independence, and became part of Austria.
Hungary, part of Austria, revolted (early in 19th century if I remember right) was too strong for Austria, and a compromise was made with the Magyars (Hungarians) entering their name into the Empire, and release of taxation towards the Empire army. Thereafter Austria-Hangary was the Empire's name in which Cechs were a servile nation with other smaller factions outside of Magyars and Germans. Austrians are Germans.
In the last World War, with the help of our U.S.A. President Woodrow Wilson, the Cechs had attained their political independence again, their 28th of October, 1918, being their 4th of July compared to ours.
Our family came from Moravia (Morava being proper in that language). Our mother language as me and your dad speaks is the same as it is in Czechoslovakia. That language is Cech. Slovaks have a different dialect, but have very little trouble to understand each other Cech and Slovak. Polish, another slavs' dialect somewhat less comprehensible than Slovak. Jugoslavs, Russians, Serbs, Lithuanians, Groats (Croats?) are all of Slavic tribes including Czechoslovaks and Poles.
In 1620, when Cechs lost, many Hus' followers flew from Bohemia. One of them, a university professor, John A. Komensky, flew to Belgia. (Belgium?) Belgian schools were in a low state, and Komensky was given authority by the Government to be the head of school education. Komensky made such an overwhelming success with his system, that when U. S. A. were looking for school educational system, it adopted the Belgian, which Komensky had formed.
You never hear of John A. Komensky, but you did hear of Comenius the great educator. Comenius is latinized J. A. Komensky, a Cech.
A Cech king, Charles IV, in 13th century, if I remember the time right, built a university in Praha. At one time, 1500 German students were at this university. Germany and all central Europe universities were established later.
Cech language is a phonetic language. That means, there is no spelling. It may be hard for you to comprehend how that is possible. Cech has more letters in alphabet than in English, but no g, x, and w. The Cech alphabet is pronounced almost the same as Latin with little difference. There are no silent letters in Cech. Every letter in the word is pronounced. The sound of a letter never changes, pronounced with the same sound as in the alphabet. In fact, the letters,each one, represents a certain sound of human voice. A is a as in latin A-men, e the same. C = ch in church, the click above saving the letter h as in english. Note the english ch- cherry, chemistry, chamois. How many different sounds to english ch? C never changes, s is always s in Cech, and never z as in his; never sh as in sure. To signify the sound of sh in hush, Cech writes it s being relative to s and it is always that. So the combination of Cech word represent letters signifying that particular sound for which they stand for.
The english language is so irregular, rules so loose, that a common englishman is at a loss how to pronounce an uncommon word. No trouble at all for a 10-year old Cech, to pronounce any word properly and correctly in his language. For instance, the sound of poor, and door? Cech hearing these two would write poor - pur and door - dor. Writes just as he hears. Just note English ea in bread, hear wreath - Cech would write - bred, hyr, ryt; creation - kryejsn. A coma above a the sound of a, or any other word.
Gentlemen - Jenny. What difference in sound of G - in gentlemen, or J in Jenny? None. Why use two or three different Ietters to represent the same sound? Cech would write these two - Dzentlemcn., Dzenny. Z equals s in pleasure, in Cech - plezr. Word notice - not-ice. Not ice and notice. Exactly the same letters but what a difference in sound when divided in two? By what rule? In Cech it is always not ice, separate or conbined, or icenot. Hear and here, meat-meet? Ceiling and sinister. Two different letters and same sound. Can and ceiling = same letter and two different sounds. Cech would write these as khen and siling. Good, general.
Mr. Theodore Roosevelt has noted the irregularity of english script. Had a chance to note the simplicity of latin reading and script. Was strong upon simplification of english after latin style. Cech is even better than latin in this respect. And Mr. Roosevelt was laughed at.
How much time has a scholar to spend to learn to spell? And even then, not being able to pronounce a-word he did not learn to spell before. This time spent in spelling could be utilized for other subjects and thus advance in study. Each english child has to spend no less than two years for spelling only.
Can you explain how eclipses are caused? Good for you if you can. My niece went to university and once visiting with us, I asked this question, and she could not explain it. She was about 15 I judge. I was going to Cech school for 3 years in europe. Left there when 10 years old. And there I have learned what and how eclipses are caused. And explained it to this niece of mine, who was a good scholar and passed high school in excellence. In english, most of the time up to 10 years of age, is spent to learn to spell. No time for anything else. This, Mr. Roosevelt recognized, but his effort in eradicating the loss of time (the spelling) was ridiculed. And yet - time is money, say the english.
I dare say, that the Cech is the most perfect language there is, that is: in script. No foreign words, as in english. One third fully I believe, are latin words, though pronounced english. Lots of French words too. Cech has its own fully and entirely, no foreign at all. Of course, modern inventions, electricity, phonograph, radio, and such are international through all languages and also in Cech. Phonograph - fonograf in Cech. Philip, foot - Filip, fut - in Cech.
Well, Vivian, I had made a lot of scribbling and may be hard to read, writing in bed, (to save my legs) but hope you can derive at least some information out of it, not so much may be for school, but for your own. Comensius, why latinized? Why not J. A. Komensky? Cech is a small nation, and a big nation not feeling to compliment the smaller one, so latinize, that 9/10ths of Americans don't know who Komensky really was.
All living languages do change by time. Latin is used by church for being a dead language, does not change, so meaning always remain intact. Medicine, and botany was latin for same reason. Cechs in U.S.A. change too, using lot of english words. Many young Cechs do not know how to say "house", "Sidewalk" etc. in Cech here.
With best regards and wishes