Re: Latin digraph characters (was: Re: Klingon silliness)

From: G. Adam Stanislav (
Date: Wed Feb 28 2001 - 11:19:23 EST

On Wed, Feb 28, 2001 at 12:39:09AM -0800, J%ORG KNAPPEN wrote:
>Did you know, the Slovak was reconstructed in the 19th century
>in order to make it more different from czech?

Not true. Written documents dating back to the Middle Ages clearly show
that Slovak has been virtually unchanged since then.

What you are talking about is the difference between Bernolák and
Štúr, both of whom tried to codify Slovak in the 19th Century, that
is to say, to create a set of formal rules (just as Webster did in

Bernolák did it first. He used a Western Slovak dialect. His attempt
failed, mostly because that dialect was not representative of the
way most Slovaks speak.

Štúr then attempted the same but using the Central Slovak dialect.
He was very successful because that dialect was something all Slovaks
could easily accept as the "official" language of Slovakia.

Since Western Slovakia is closer to Bohemia (where the Czechs live),
naturally, its dialect is closer to Czech (still quite distinct but
closer) than the Central Slovak dialect.

Because Bernolák's attempt predated Štúr, I can see how it could
give out the impression of "reconstruction" but that is not what
happened. Rather, Bernolák's attempt failed because it may have worked
for the Slovak intelligentsia living in Bratislava (which is in Western
Slovakia), it made no sense to the rest of the nation. Štúr was
successful (even Bernolák accepted him) because he did it right.

By the way, there was another attempt which preceded both. I cannot
remember the author's name off the top of my head. This gentleman
wrote what is now considered the first Slovak novel. He pretty much
created his own Slovak based on his own theories of what Slovak should
be. In the 20th Century someone translated that novel into real Slovak,
so people can actually understand it.

All of this happened during the 19th Century period of nationalism
(which arose not just in Slovakia) as a reaction to the attempt of
having Slovaks assimilated into Hungary after the Austrian Empire
turned into Austro-Hungarian Empire and Hungarian became the official
legal language of that part of the Empire (before that, Latin was the
official language of the entire Empire and all nationalities used
their own languages in day-to-day communications in their respective
territories -- incidentally, Slovak has two very different words for
Hungarian, one describing the entire territory of the Kingdom of
Hungary, one describing the specific language of modern Hungary --
that means that a 19th Century Slovak could say, yes I am a Hungarian,
as in someone from the Kingdom of Hungary, and at the same time, no,
I am certainly not a Hungarian, as in a member of the nation living
in modern Hungary -- the first word was Uhor, the second Maďar,
quite different).

The Czechs lived in the Austrian section of the Empire, the Slovaks
in the Hungarian section. Back then no one would have suggested that
Czech and Slovak were the same language (they have been distinct
linguistically, culturally, and politically, ever since the Slavs
moved to Europe). There was no need to "reconstruct" Slovak to make
it more distinct from Czech.


When two do the same, it's not the same
		-- Slovak proverb

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jul 10 2001 - 17:21:19 EDT