Upon visiting Old Town Square for the first time, we were all in awe of the architecture and abundance of art around us. I soon noticed the Jan Hus memorial which I had read about before arriving.

The statue was built in 1915 which was 500 years after the death of Jan Hus. The memorial was built completely on donations. (Photo by Mary Betz)

The statue was built in 1915 which was 500 years after the death of Jan Hus. The memorial was built completely on donations. (Photo by Mary Betz)

Jan Hus is known historically as a reformer and a philosopher. He spoke against many clergy and urged them to reform the Church. In 1415, Hus was burned at the stake for his writings against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Later, he became a symbol of resistance against oppression, especially during the Communist regime.

As a student very interested in linguistics and learning foreign language, I found his contributions to the Czech language very interesting. He created the diacritic system used today in which symbols were added above specific letters to denote a different sound (such as “ě” or “á”). However, this new system was not adopted immediately. It only later became the standard for the Czech language in the 16th century.

Upon arrival, we were taught some basic Czech words and pronunciations. Our instructor pronounced letters with the diacritics and without. The contributions of Hus to the Czech language is certainly helpful as a learner to be able to see the difference in pronunciation!

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