A Lesson In The Linguistic Sexism

Haresh Shah


My first encounter with ová came in early 1991, when we were putting together the first issue of the Czech edition of Playboy. I noticed on the proposed cover, Pamela Anderson having become Pamela Andersonová. First I thought it was a typo, so I brought it up to the attention of then editor-in-chief Jaroslav Matejka. No, apparently it wasn’t an error. That’s how the Czechs called their women and Anderson in its Czech version had to be Andersonová. Even after Jaroslav gave me an elaborate explanation on the Czech language and its grammar, it didn’t quite fit my logic. At that time I didn’t know any Czech at all, even so, I was not swayed. I did not want them to Czechify a person’s name. It would be like calling Paul Pavel and Michelle Michaela. I am particularly sensitive about this – perhaps all my life living in the West, I have had often to fend off people’s attempts at turning Haresh into Harry. The first issue came out with hers and dozens of other featured foreign females with their original names.

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