Czech language
Czech PlainsWe cannot locate the moment when tribal Slavic dialects began to unite into separate languages. The only thing is obvious: in the 7th or 8th century AD three languages were spoken on the territory of modern Czech and Slovak Republics: they were Czech, Slovak and Moravan. Other West Slavic tongues are Polish, and High and Low Sorbian (called also Wendish). Czech is somewhat the most conservative in its inflections among them all.

Czech differs from some other Slavic languages also in the characteristic sentence intonation, the first-syllable word accent, the absence of elision, the use of the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic, the exceptionally free word order, and the prominence given to vocalic r and l. The quality of a ringing, staccato speech distinguishes it from other Western Slavic languages. Also we can notify the unique sibilant sound [r'] as the distinguishing feature of Czech.

Before the 11th century Czechs wrote in Old Church Slavonic, the first Slavic literary language, which had been developed by Saints Cyril and Methodius for missionary work in Greater Moravia (now Slovakia and the eastern region of the Czech Republic). In the 11th century two important linguistic events took place: In the West, including Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia, Latin replaced Old Church Slavonic for church and literary use, and the regional Slavic dialects began to develop into separate languages. After centuries in which Czech was a despised and suppressed peasant tongue, the 14th-century Bohemian religious reformer John Huss (Jan Hus) standardized Czech spelling. His stature as a national hero endowed the peasant vernacular he used with a new dignity. The work of Huss was consolidated and advanced during the 15th and 16th centuries by the Unity of Brethren, a Protestant sect later known as the Moravian Brethren. The writings of this sect stabilized the Czech language and determined its future as a literary language. Except for the growth of vocabulary, the Czech and Slovak languages have not changed significantly since the 16th century.

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