Sunday, 15 November 2009

Prague Metro: Jiřího z Poděbrad

So many fascinating things to tell about this photo of one of the metro stations near the border of Vinohrady and Vršovice. First and foremost, this is of course classic Communist-era architecture: functional, minimal, progressive, and, like most of the stations on the 'A' line, colour-coded for easy recognition! The metro system was begun in 1967 and is still being expanded, with plans for a fourth line and possibly a link to the airport.

Secondly, this station name is a model for learning the niceties of Czech grammar and pronunciation. Grammar first.  Jiři (George) was the first and only protestant monarch of the Czech lands, and he came from the nearby town of Poděbrady. But this is the station of George of Poděbrady, so you need two possessives: Jiřiho and Poděbrad- (with no 'y'). As for pronunciation, well, 'ě' is simple - it sounds like 'yeah'. The 'ř' is a combination of a rolled 'r' and quickly added 'zh' - don't try this one at home.... Finally, the 'z' (meaning 'from') is actually pronounced as an 's' in this instance because it precedes an unvoiced consonant.  So unpronounceable, but so exotic...

And who was he? Well, George was a 15th century nobleman who became a leading Hussite and took part in several significant battles against the Catholics. When he was elected to the Crown, supported by the protestant Estates of Prague, he took a softer line and tried to reconcile the warring factions of the Church by proposing a unified Christian land with common institutions and a common European parliament. It's interesting to speculate that, had George of Poděbrady been alive today, he would have made an ideal candidate for the Presidency of the EU...

Readers interested in other aspects of Communist-era Prague may like to click here.

1 comments:

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