• Anti-establishment language humour and creativity in the Czech-speaking lands, 1938 to 1989

      Dickins, Tom (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2021-04-23)
      This article addresses a phenomenon that has been downplayed (especially in publications aimed at non-Czech speakers) — anti-establishment language humour and creativity in the Czech-speaking lands from 1938 to 1989. The study begins with a discussion of the motivation behind the humour and wordplay, with particular reference to their linguistic and comedic functions. This is followed by an examination of the principal themes and targets of the humour, or its message(s). A distinction is drawn here between anti-German humour, which sought to defend Czech identity, and humour critical of Communism, which was aimed mainly at political reform. In the final and longest section, the focus switches to the medium of the humour, which is analysed in detail under two defining headings: metalinguistic playfulness, and intertextual and encoded referents. In conclusion, the article stresses, inter alia, the symbolic importance of the anti-regime humour as a means of subversion, and the pleasure and solace that people took from it, both as a form of escapism and as an aesthetic experience.
    • Gender differentiation and the asymmetrical use of animate nouns in contemporary Czech

      Dickins, Tom (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2001)
      This article analyses the use of animate nouns in contemporary Czech, with detailed reference to the dictionary Slovník spisovné etiny pro kolu a veejnost. Special attention is paid to the existence of generic masculine forms, which may underscore traditional perceptions of the status of men and women in Czech society. The study is informed by sociolinguistic theory and provides an overview of some of the relevant tenets of feminist argument, but it is primarily concerned with the linguistic implications of lexical practice. The main conclusion is that Czech is formally well adapted to suffixation and that there may now be scope for more feminine derivatives to assert themselves. (Ingenta)
    • Historical ‘signposts’ and other temporal indicators in the Czech lexicon

      Tom Dickins (2012)
      This article posits that the Czechs employ a great many historical markers, previously applied to other events of national importance, which help to shape collective memory and right the ‘wrongs’ of the past. It is argued that these temporal indicators share a number of clearly defined characteristics, and that their use is too systematic and calculated to be merely a function of the constraints of the lexicon. The first part of the study considers in detail questions of semantics (especially the distinction between denotation and connotation), the lexicographical sources available to the researcher, and the lexical ‘signpost’ in context, while the second part focuses on practical examples of lexical re-appropriation since 1918, with particular reference to dictionaries and the Czech National Corpus.
    • Russian and Soviet loanwords and calques in the Czech lexicon since the beginning of the twentieth century

      Dickins, Tom (Modern Humanities Research Association, 2006)
      This article evaluates Russian and Soviet lexical influences on Czech after 1900, with particular reference to the linguistic legacy of the Great War, the Russian Revolution and Communist rule. The author considers in detail the semantic, stylistic and functional range of the loanwords and calques, from a diachronic and a synchronic perspective. His analysis of the current status of borrowings is supported by empirical data both from the Czech National Corpus and from his own study into people's perceptions and knowledge of well established Russianisms. (Ingenta)
    • The Czech-Speaking Lands, their peoples and contact communities: titles, names and ethnonyms

      Tom Dickins (2011)
      This article provides a detailed overview of the official and unofficial names applied to the Czech-speaking lands, their peoples and their language(s), and of the terms used by Czechs for contact communities and their territories. Particular attention is paid to the ethnolinguistic and semantic implications of the descriptors employed, and to the debates which they have stimulated. It is argued that the Czech lexicon continues to reflect traditional, relatively prescriptive perceptions of belonging, based on historical territorial claims and shared linguistic and cultural norms, which have symbolically marginalized outsiders and reinforced Czech solidarity. While erstwhile enmities have now largely given way to cooperative coexistence, critical attitudes to ‘problematic’ foreigners prevail, as confirmed, inter alia, by opinion surveys, and as exemplified by new pejorative designations for non-Western immigrants.
    • The Impact Factor of the Language of Czechoslovak Normalization: A Study of the Seminal Work, <em>Poučení z krizového vývoje ve straně a společnosti po XIII. sjezdu KSČ</em>

      Dickins, Tom (2015-04-30)
      This article employs a corpus-driven discourse approach to analyse the language of the canonical official interpretation of the Prague Spring, Poučení z krizového vývoje ve straně a společnosti po XIII. sjezdu KSČ. The study argues that Communist rhetoric reduced language to a ‘coded’ ideological ritual, which largely achieved its two intended perlocutionary effects: to re-educate its readers and to satisfy the political demands of the Soviet leadership. It further suggests that the text points to the importance of social stability and a quiet life (to get on with one's work) as two of the principal leitmotifs of the normalization era.