Important legal notice
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The Euromosaic study

Slovenian in Hungary

  1. General information
    1. The language
    2. History, geography and demography
    3. Legal status and official policies
  2. Presence and use of the language in various fields
    1. Education
    2. Judicial Authorities
    3. Public Authorities and services
    4. Mass media and Information technology
    5. Arts and Culture
    6. The business world
    7. Language use in family and society
    8. The European dimension
  3. Conclusion

 

1. General information

1.1 The language

Slovenian [slovenski jezik/slovenščina] is a South Slavic language closely related to Croatian. Both Slovenian and Croatian belong to the western subgroup of South Slavic. In all some 2.4 million people speak Slovenian. Most of them live in Slovenia (1.75 million or approximately 87.8% of the country’s population). The Slovenian varieties spoken in Hungary differ from those used in Slovenia.

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1.2 History, geography and demography

The Slovenian community is one of the indigenous national minorities in Hungary that has coexisted longest alongside the Hungarians, i.e. since the Hungarians settled in the plains around the middle Danube river. It is, however, not clear to what extent the Slovenes that now live in the Raab-region are related to the first Slovene settlers in Hungary.

Most of the Slovenes in Hungary live in seven neighbouring settlements to the south of St. Gotthard [Szentgotthárd] and the Raab (Rába) river in a geographically isolated area sandwiched in the corner of the Slovenian and Austrian border. This area (approx. 92 km²) belongs to the region that was formerly known as the ‘Wenden-region’ and now is usually designated as the Slovene-region. This region is in Vas county.

The number of people belonging to the Slovene national minority in Hungary is estimated between 3,040 (according to the provisional results of the 2001 census) and 5,000 (according to minority organisation, see the country profile on Hungary). Of those stating that they belong to the Slovenian national minority in the 2001 census, about 11% were in the ‘0-14’ age group, about 37% were in the ‘15-39’ age group, about 27% were in the ‘40-59’ age group and about 24% were in the ‘60+’ age group. Of the 37% Slovenes that according to the 2001 census are economically active, about 4% work in the primary, 16% in the secondary and 74% in the tertiary sector.

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1.3 Legal status and official policies

Information on the legal status of Slovenian and of official policies affecting Slovenian in Hungary can be found in section 4 of the country profile.

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2. Presence and use of the language in various fields

2.1 Education

In 1999/2000 there were 5 pre-primary Slovenian schools. The Slovenian bilingual pre-primary schools (second type of minority pre-school education, see section 4 of the country profile) had an enrolment of 112 pupils. In the same school year 4 schools offered primary Slovenian education. 22 pupils attended bilingual primary schools (second type of minority primary education, see section 4 of the country profile) and 94 pupils enrolled in Slovenian language teaching education (third type of minority primary education, see section 4 of the country profile). Secondary education in Slovenian was offered at one school offering Slovenian language instruction for 9 pupils. In the academic year 1999/2000 6 students studied Slovenian in institutions of higher education. In the academic year 2000/2001, 5 students were granted scholarships by the Hungarian government to study in Slovenia. Training of secondary school language teachers is offered at Eötvös Lóránt University of Arts and Sciences (ELTE) Faculty of Arts (BTK) in Budapest. At the pedagogical institute Dániel Berzsenyi in Szombathely there is a department of Slovenian language and literature that trains Slovenian teachers and scientists.

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2.2 Judicial authorities

General information on this issue is given in section 4 of the country profile.

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2.3 Public authorities and services

General information on this issue is given in section 4 of the country profile.

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2.4 Mass media and information technology

The weekly magazine Porabje, controlled by the Association of Slovenes in Hungary, is state funded and is published in Szentgotthárd.

Hungarian public radio transmits a weekly regional Slovenian programme of 30 minutes and a weekly half-hour country-wide programme. The national programme is broadcast between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The regional programme is broadcast in the morning as well as in the afternoon. The Slovenian programmes are produced in the regional studio in Szombathely. Among the national minority self-governments of Hungary, the Slovene self-government was the first to create its own radio station: Radio Monoster. It broadcasts in Slovenian from Szentgotthárd and has its own bandwidth. In 1999 the national minority self-government was granted a broadcasting licence for eight hours per week in accordance with the rules of the Act on the Media. Regular broadcasts started in June 2000. This radio station broadcasts one hour of native-language programmes daily from Monday to Saturday, and two hours on Sunday. The national self-government received significant support for the necessary equipment from Slovenia. No further information on the use of Slovenian on Hungarian radio could be found.

Hungarian public television broadcasts a fortnightly 26-minute Slovenian programme entitled Slovenski Utrinki. The broadcast takes place between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on workdays on Channel 1 of the Hungarian television. The programme is repeated on Saturday morning on satellite Channel 2. Slovenian television programmes are produced in the studio in Szombathely. No further information on the use of Slovenian on Hungarian television could be found.

At the end of 2003 one homepage operated by the Slovenes in Hungary was present on the internet. Links to several Slovak organisations and institutions are given on www.kisebbseg.lap.hu. (see section 4 of the country profile for general information on the situation of the new media in the case of Hungary’s minorities)

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2.5 Arts and Culture

The cultural life of the Slovenian minority is characterised by the activities of traditional ensembles and school groups operating in the settlements inhabited by the Slovenian minority. The activities of the recently established Slovenian self-government have contributed to the invigoration of Slovenian cultural life. With financial support from the kin-State, the Federation of Slovenians in Hungary founded the Slovenian Cultural and Information Centre at Szentgotthárd. It is clear that the geographical and intellectual proximity of Slovenia positively influences the cultural life of the Slovenes in Hungary.

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2.6 The business world

General information on this issue is given in section 4 of the country profile.

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2.7 Language use in family and society

The Hungarian Slovenes nowadays are mostly bi- or trilingual (meaning that they use Hungarian and/or a local variety of Slovenian and/or standard Slovenian). There are intergenerational differences: whereas the older generation is predominantly dominant Slovenian bilingual, the younger generation is Hungarian dominant bilingual (if not Hungarian monolingual). A sociological study of Slovene-Hungarian bilingualism on both sides of the border, carried out in the mid-1980s, found that the use of Slovene in Hungary predominates within the nuclear and the extended family, whereas language use in conversations with friends and school-mates, as well as for shopping, tends to be bilingual. While in the 1990 census 2,627 people declared Slovenian to be their mother tongue, 3,187 did so in the 2001 census. Given the purely indicative nature of census figures it is not clear whether this increase points to a reversal of language shift.

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2.8 The European dimension

The Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Slovenia signed an Agreement of Co-operation in the fields of Education, Culture and Sciences in 1999, for the period of time from 2000 to 2003. Both the Slovenian Cultural and Information Centre in Szentgotthárd and the Slovenian radio station owned by the National Slovenian Self-Government are operating successfully. They enjoy support from both countries.

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3. Conclusion

With a membership estimated between 3,040 (2001 census) and 5,000 (according to minority organisations) the Slovenian minority is one of the smallest minorities in Hungary. The Slovenes, whose predecessors settled in Hungary mainly in the 17th and 18th century, have largely assimilated to Hungarian. Slovenian is used in a limited way in the media as well as in some cultural organisations, but the actual frequent daily use of Slovenian is restricted to an aged minority within the minority. Attempts are being made to reverse Slovenian-Hungarian language shift by establishing Slovenian native language schools or Slovenian-Hungarian bilingual schools as allowed by the Education Act. If these initiatives are to boost the intergenerational transmission and the use of Slovenian in everyday life within the Slovenian community again, they will have to be accompanied by other coordinated measures in different areas of the lives of the Slovenian minority. Alas, despite the sophisticated Minorities Act such measures have not been yet been put in place. A lack of funding, the apparent gap between the legal framework and the actual implementation of the legal provisions in the field and the convictions of some minority members that Slovenian culture and identity can survive without the Slovenian language seem to be the main reasons for this.

 

Last update: 27-10-2006