COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Czech Republic/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

The official language is Czech and it is used by the majority of inhabitants of the Czech Republic (CR) – about 96%, but its use is not defined by a special language Act. In 2004, a proposal from Communist MPs for an amendment to the Constitution that would implement a national and official language was rejected. The attitude of the government to the proposal was negative.

According to the corresponding acts – like the Act on Lotteries and Other Similar Games, the Trade Licensing Act, the Act on Organisation and Implementation of Social Security – the offices (such as the Trades Licensing Offices or the Czech Social Security Administration) discuss issues and elaborate resolutions in the Czech language.

Financial offices also use the Slovak language officially and all their resolutions are in the Czech or Slovak language. Using the Czech or Slovak languages is anchored in the Act on Administration of Taxes and Fees.

The citizens of the Czech Republic that belong to national and ethnic minorities can act in their own language according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms. If they have an interpreter, the state will pay the cost. The exceptions are the Code of Criminal Procedure and Code of Civil Procedure that guarantee the right to an interpreter during court proceedings and with law enforcement authorities, but without reimbursement of the cost.

Leaflets and other publications must be published in the Czech language as defined by the Act on Consumer Protection. The authority in matters of the Czech language and also the codifier of the literary standard is the Institute of Czech Language of the Academy of Sciences CR.

Based on data from the Czech Statistical Office, as of 31 March 2015 the Czech Republic had 10 537 818inhabitants. The Czech Housing and Population Census consistently includes a question on ethnicity. The last such survey was conducted in March 2011.

The share of ethnic Germans in the population, who were a very large minority before the Second World War, has dramatically fallen because of the post-war expulsion of Germans. During the existence of Czechoslovakia, the share of ethnic Slovaks grew steadily. The census in 2001 also includes foreigners with a long-term residence status in the overall number of inhabitants, in conformity with international recommendations.

The second-largest language by number of speakers (after the Czech language) is the Slovak language; followed by Polish, German and Romany.

Table 2:    Population structure by ethnicity in 2001 and 2011(in %) – Czech ethnicity includes Moravians and Silesians

Ethnicity

2001 in %

2011 in %

Czech

94.2

67.9

Slovak

1.9

1.4

Ukrainian

-

0.5

Vietnamese

-

0.3

Roma

-

0.1

Polish

0.5

0.3

German

0.4

0.2

Hungarian

0.1

0.1

Other

2.8

2.8

Source:    Czech Statistical Office based on the Housing and Population Census 2001 and 2011.

Many programmes are dedicated to the support of other nationalities and their languages; see also chapter 4.2.4.


Chapter published: 28-01-2016

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