Culture

UT Dialect Project Founded By KJT Member To Combat Death Of Czech Language In Texas
John Tomecek, a member of Austin Society #112, founded the Texas Czech Dialect Project to combat the death of the Czech language in Texas and document it before it is gone. The project is being modelled on the Texas German Dialect Project, conducted by Dr. Hans Boas of the University of Texas at Austin, which has enjoyed great success in cataloging the German dialects of Texas. The Project‘s primary goal is to conduct extensive interview fieldwork, to collect as much spoken Czech in Texas in as many areas as possible, to then be applied to academic research to produce a comprehensive work on the language in Texas. This material is also intended to be used to aid the Czech community in preserving and reasserting the use of their mother tongue in Texas. Currently the project is going strong, but still needs help in terms of collecting information. Three types of data are being collected and considered for this work. Primarily, the project is interested in collection spoken Czech in interviews with speakers today who demonstrate their own unique dialects of Czech. These interview sessions are recorded on a digital recorder, the files of which are then usable for digital analysis. The session consists primarily of general and specific questions, covering family, town/area history, hobbies, religion, language use, and many more. Since the idea is to encourage speakers to use Czech, any topic that the interviewee is interested in presents a valid point for conversation. Many interviews, in fact, have consisted of simply playing taroky or dominoes over a cup of coffee or a pivo. A large number of people prefer to be interviewed in groups, often with friends or family. While some may think that the interviewers would not prefer this, they could not be more wrong; group interviews allow a more easy-going, natural use of the language, which is the heart of what is trying to be catalogued. Lastly, the interviewer presents a series of English-Czech translation tasks, designed to bring out unique variations on pronounciation. These are common phrases that have a great deal of variation in how they are said by different speakers of Czech. Once assembled, it is planned that these materials will be posted to a database website for the project and in a physical location, providing the Czechs in Texas access to them. This will provide an unprecedentedly large, concise source for all hoping to study this unique form of Czech language. Of course, no project of this sort is complete without public appilication and giving aid to those people for whom it is being conducted. The project has adopted the motto “Náš Jazyk, Náš Dedictví, Naše Povinnost,“ “Our Language, Our Heritage, Our Duty“ to convey a sense of unity with the Czech community of Texas. As the project director is himself a Texas Czech, he feels a sense of duty to the language of his forefathers. This has produced an impressive outpouring of community support and encouragement, and John Tomecek has found fertile soil in the prospects of preserving the language. Indeed, after having given a number of public speeches on the topic at various ethnic society meetings, he is attempting to launch an initiative to establish “Czech School“ for Texas Czech youth in the communities. These classes are being conceived to be taught on Sundays in churches and community centers across Czech Texas. It is hoped that through education of the youth, use of the language will flow again by giving the young a group of friends their own age to use Czech with. This in turn will strengthen the ties of the community that have become weak in our modern world. It is the hope of the Czech people in Texas that their langauge not die with them. As one speaker put it to Tomecek, “My grandkids, they can learn that European Czech any time, but they won’t. We both know that. The only way it will happen is if they grow up speaking it, and they ought to talk like we do.“ The Texas Czech Dialect Project is seeking the help of the you, Texas Czech community, to realize their goals of preserving this unique variety of Czech, “born and raised“ in Texas for future generations. Many Texas Czechs have heard or think that their Czech is “wrong,“ “slang,“ or “trash“ Czech. This could not be more wrong! The Czech spoken is Texas is the very last place in the world that this older variety of Czech is preserved. This older form has many unique elements that no longer exist in Europe. Not only one dialect of such great importance, but many, from all across the Czech-speaking lands exist here. We in Texas are fortunate to have such a heritage and should be proud of our Czech. Once we lose it here, however, it will be gone forever. While the project director comes from the community of Schwertner, near Corn Hill, the help of the state-wide community in finding willing speakers of Texas Czech who will share with the project their language and help save this great heritage is needed. Since the project does not only involve the Czech language in speech, but also in written word and cultural items, anyone who can contribute originals or copies of old newspapers, letters, or other documents is doing a great deal. Even things such as the knowledge of how to make or do things that were dear to our people, like sausage, bread, wine, or beer, are of great value and interest to the project. The history of our communities and family is of vital importance, as well, and the project wants to also hear stories about those topics. However “normal“ you might think they seem, they are very interesting to us! Without the help of this hardworking, faithful people, the work of preserving the language and culture simply cannot be done. Tell your neighbors, family, friends, and church congregations that Czech in Texas can be saved, but we all have to roll up our sleeves and get to work, just like our grandparents did. With enough work, the unique way of speaking Czech that exists in Texas will be saved, and it is very possible that today’s youth will be able to grow up knowing Czech the same way that their ancestors did. If you would like to help in any way, please contact John Tomecek at (512) 228-8065 or by email at john.tomecek@gmail.com. His mailing address is: John Tomecek, 1 University Station, F3600, Austin, Texas 78712.

TCHCC Breaks Ground For Library, Museum, Archives Building

Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center, Inc. broke ground for the Library, Museum and Archives Building on Saturday, June 14. The long-awaited day came as the Board of Directors dug their shovels into the sod at the TCHCC site adjacent to the Fayette County Fairgrounds in La Grange. Gaeke Construction Company from Giddings has begun the construction of the 10,000 square foot facility, which they hope to complete in nine months.
TCHCC President Retta Chandler said “It is an exciting day for many of us to see our dream of a statewide Czech museum and library become a reality. We look forward to serving the people with meaningful programs that will promote and preserve our heritage and history. Thank you all for your dedication and continued support”. Although all of the money has not been raised to date, fundraising efforts continue and naming opportunities are still available for the Endowment Fund as well as some of the exhibit areas.
As part of the program, TCHCC Board Members Joseph Bartosh, Bill Schovajsa and Ben Bohuslav shared their thoughts on reaching this milestone and reminisced about the many years it took to get to this point. The first officers to envision the center were recognized: President Retta Slavik Chandler, Vice President Elo J. Goerig, Secretary Carolyn Meiners Heinsohn and Treasurer Arnold Pechal. Over 60 people were present to share in the event including Fayette County Judge Ed Janecka, La Grange City Council Member John Cernosek, Fayette County Commissioner John Saunders, CHS Miss Texas Czech-Slovak Ashley Sulak, architect Roger Kolar and his son Stephen, Contractor Louis Gaeke, Chamber of Commerce Director Vickie Woodard. Representatives from TOCA, Sokol, RVOS, SPJST, KJT, KJZT and State President and Chapter Presidents of the Czech Heritage Society of Texas were on hand as well.

.CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW FOR THE PLEDGE OR DONATION FORM.

For further information in supporting, pledging or donating to the TCHCC Library, Museum and Archives Capital Campaign, please contact the Center at P.O. Box 6, La Grange, Texas 78945-0006 or telephone (888) 785-4500 Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. or e-mail .



Texas Czech Dialect Project

The Texas Czech Dialect Project is seeking the help of the Texas Czech community to realize their goals of preserving this unique variety of Czech, "born and raised” in Texas for future generations. Many Texas Czechs have heard or think that their Czech is "wrong,” "slang,” or "trash” Czech. This could not be more wrong! The Czech spoken is Texas is the very last place in the world that this older variety of Czech is preserved. This older form has many unique elements that no longer exist in Europe. Not only one dialect of such great importance, but many, from all across the Czech-speaking lands exist here. Read more about the Texas Czech Dialect Project.

 

The Texas Czech Genealogical Society has published the Brazos County 1900-1910 Czech Census Extractions.
As a means of helping people with their Czech genealogy, Texas Czech Genealogical Society member Helen Layman extracted Czech names from 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 Brazos County census records. After so doing, this information was donated to TCGS. The first volume, covering census years 1900-1910, has recently been published and is now available. Included in this 148-page volume are 250 surnames, late 1800 and 1900 photos and a brief look at early Brazos County. Also included is the Frank J. Zubik family history. Available from TCGS sales chair Bill Hodon, this volume can be purchased for $12 plus $4 shipping/handling. Contact Bill at 1201 Nimbus Drive, Pflugerville, Texas 78660, (512) 251-5201 or by email at bdhodon@sbcglobal.net. Information is also available on the TCGS web site at www.txczgs.org.

Czech Republic: Official website of the Czech Republic

Castles of the Czech Republic

Czech Heritage Society of Texas

Texas Czech Polka Bands

Institute of Texan Cultures