Minda, Micka (names for cats)


New Member
English - Canada

I'm researching different names of the female cat Dinah in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." In Skoumaloví's translation, Dinah is translated as Micka, and Cisař's translation translates Dinah as Minda. Could anyone tell me whether these names are very popular Czech names for cats, or if they have some cultural connotation?

Also, the Cheshire cat in Cisař's translation becomes 'čínská kočka' - would anybody know of possible Czech connotations for that?

Thanks in advance!
  • Minda and Micka are very popular names here for cats! Don;t know their etymology though so I can't help you here.
    Čínská kočka means Chinese cat...Don't know it's cognates/relatives/whatever. :(

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    The Cheshire cat, of course, doesn't exist, it's entirely fictitious, the brainchild of Carroll himself. I'm no expert on moggies (for non-natives: "moggy" = colloquial, humorous and affectionate British English word for "cat"), but as far as I know, the Chinese cat doesn't exist either.

    I would guess that the translator thought that most readers of the translation probably wouldn't know what a "Cheshire" cat was (unless they'd read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in English) so he was looking for some sort of equivalent whose meaning might be more accessible to the Czech reader.

    "Chinese" cats (as a breed) also don't exist (readers of the translation would be more likely to know that, or could easily find it out), and the word has the added advantage that it starts with the "ch" (č) [tʃ ] sound, and has two syllables.

    It's probably one of the culturo-socio-linguistic compromises translators sometimes feel they have to make. Kolik překladatelů, tolik názorů - a neat way in Czech of saying: put five translators in a room with the same text to translate, and you'll get 27 different versions.


    New Member
    English - Canada
    Thank you for the input! :))

    The Cheshire cat does come from a well-known English idiom, "to grin like a Cheshire cat," and there is some British background/culture surrounding that. Could "činka" - which means "dumb-bell" in English (which is also slang for a foolish or stupid person) - also have the same connotation or slang meaning in Czech like it does in English? Or did it in the 1940s?


    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    The noun činka has nothing in common with the adjective čínský.

    činka - from German Schiene (= bar, lath)
    čínský - from Čína (= China, from Jin/Qin dynasty)

    The Czech word for moggy (the spell-checker does not know the word) is číča (do not confuse it with Don Ciccio).

    So the connection to that English idiom is lost in translation. :(


    New Member
    English - Canada
    I know that činka and čínský aren't related etymologically, but I was hoping that perhaps the translator was playing on the word činka, since we seem to have established that čínský does not have any Czech slang or colloquial meaning besides "Chinese", and there is and was no Czech perception of the Chinese that they smile too much. (The cat, even in this translation, still does smile a lot.) Could there be another word that sounds like čínský that the translator could be playing with?
    čičinka => či-činka => činka

    čičinka: we call an unknown cat "čiči", thus "čičinka". Čičinka is usually "very nice & sweet" (little) cat - it is "činaná" (nice & sweet)
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    New Member
    Czech - Czech republic
    Yes, those names are pretty popular. I think we once had a cat with that name, but i'm not sure.

    I have no idea why 'cheshire cat' would translate to 'čínská kočka'. The name for the cheshire cat is completely diffrent- it's kočka šklíba by the way -here.


    Senior Member
    Zofie, kočka Šklíba /Grinning Cat/ is in Skoumals' translation. I am not sure about the other one, though, it is much less known and I did not read it (apart from a few poems).
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