Czech lands are a place where many different language elements meet - there si Czech language, but there were parts where German was the most common language till the half of the 20th century. How did this happen?
As you most probably know, one third of the Czech lands inhabitants were Germans till the second half of 1940s. This was caused by the large medieval colonisation when owners of Czech estates invited people from quite overcrowded Bavaria and other German speaking regions to come and settle in almost uninhabited regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. As these people were living in quite secluded areas (such as mountain valleys) they kept their language and spoke German.
This of course means they had German surnames. You can indetify these surnames quite easily if you speak both Czech and German. It's a bit more complicated for those who speak English only, but what could help is the fact German is related to English.
When we take a loook on the list of the most common Czech surnames and search for those which originate in German, we would be surprised the one which is the most common sounds Czech - it's Šmíd (or Šmídová in female form). This surname comes from the word der Schmied, which means a blacksmith in German (see similarity between German Schmied and English Smith).
Second most common surname with German origins is Müller (or Müllerová) - der Müller means a miller (mlynář in Czech). Again, there is a similarity between English and German word.
Third one is Kraus - a word kraus is an adjective which means curly (kudrnatý). It is similar to Czech surname Kudrna and it's a reference to the hair of the first man named this way.
Fišer is the fourth in the list of the most common surnames originating in German. Der Fischer means - what a surprise - a fisher. Last one I'm going to mention here is the fifth one - it's Richter, where der Richter was a village reeve.
As you can see, 4 out of 5 surnames refer to the occupation of the first holder. There are other surnames which do the same, such as Vágner (German der Wagner, a wheeler), Šnajdr (comes from der Schneider, a tailor), Šustr (from German der Schuster, shoemaker), Weber (a weaver) or Šulc (refering to der Schulze, also a village reeve).
If you are not sure which surname has German origins, you could always ask here in comments.
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