The Czech Alphabet

The Czech alphabet uses the following 41 characters (you need to configure your browser to use the codepage ISO 8859-2 to view them properly in the first column; in the pronunciation column, the special symbols are substituted whenever needed: the caron by "^", the acute accent by "-", and the ring by "+"). Note that "CH" is a two-character sequence rather then a single character, but it has some properties of a single character: it has its own pronunciation and a special position in sorting order. However, capital "ch" is either "Ch" or "CH", depending on context.

Several encoding schemes have been used for Czech. Among them, two compete until today: ISO 8859-2 (Latin 2), used on Unix systems, and Windows 1250 (Central and Eastern Europe), used on Microsoft Windows systems. Fortunately, both schemes differ only slightly (~ three letters of the Czech alphabet). In Prague Dependency Treebank we use the ISO standard, even when viewing trees using the Windows-based tool Graph. For each character, I indicate: its name; its uppercase and lowercase ISO code (in decimal); whether it is considered greater than or equal to the preceding one in the Czech sorting order; approximate pronunciation.

A A 65 97 as u in cut
A WITH ACUTE 193 225 equal long as in father
B B 66 98 greater b
C C 67 99 greater ts as in bats
C WITH CARON 200 232 greater ch as in church
D D 68 100 greater d; but di = d^i
D WITH CARON 207 239 equal dj as in duty
E E 69 101 greater as in met
E WITH ACUTE 201 233 equal long as in bad
E WITH CARON 204 236 equal be^, pe^, ve^ = bje, pje, vje
de^, te^, ne^ = d^e, t^e, n^e
me^ = mn^e
F F 70 102 greater f
G G 71 103 greater as in good
H H 72 104 greater as in half
CH greater as in Scottish loch
I I 73 105 greater as in bit
I WITH ACUTE 205 237 equal long as in see
J J 74 106 greater y as in yes
K K 75 107 greater k
L L 76 108 greater l
M M 77 109 greater m
N N 78 110 greater n; but ni = n^i
N WITH CARON 210 242 equal nj as in canyon
O O 79 111 greater as in hot
O WITH ACUTE 211 243 equal long as in short :-)
P P 80 112 greater p
Q Q 81 113 greater kv, not kw
R R 82 114 greater r, rolled in the front of the mouth
R WITH CARON 216 248 greater somewhere between r and sh
S S 83 115 greater as in set
S WITH CARON 169 185 greater sh as in short
T T 84 116 greater t; but ti = t^i
T WITH CARON 171 187 equal tj, similar to tulip
U U 85 117 greater as in book
U WITH ACUTE 218 250 equal long as in moon
U WITH RING 217 249 equal long as in moon
V V 86 118 greater v
W W 87 119 greater v as in van
X X 88 120 greater x
Y Y 89 121 greater i as in bit
Y WITH ACUTE 221 253 equal long i as in see
Z Z 90 122 greater as in zebra
Z WITH CARON 174 190 greater zh as in pleasure

The Czech Keyboard

The standard Czech keyboard can be roughly characterized by the following:

dead ring
dead caron
dead acute
tab Q W E R T Z U I O P /
dead dieresis
caps lock A S D F G H J K L "
shift Y X C V B N M ?

Several variants of this standard keyboard exist, most of them being created for people who got used to the U.S. keyboard in times when Czech keyboards were not available. These are also called "amateur" or "programmer" keyboard layouts. They usually have the punctuation symbols and parentheses at the U.S. positions, only the digit row and the dead key remain Czech. Also, "Y" and "Z" are swapped back to their U.S. positions. Another variant leaves all the keys at their Czech positions, except for "Y" and "Z" that are swapped back. This keyboard is called "Czech QWERTY".

Baltimore, 1998