Monthly Archives: July 2013

Slovenian Emigrants Worldwide

As with almost all countries in the world, Slovenian emigrations occurred in historic times. The causes were diverse, from political, to economical; because of opportunity to earn a better living. I want to explore this topic because Slovenian emigrants are also a part of the Slovenian language and culture.

Most Slovenians moved from their homeland at the end of the 19th century because of the 1st world war. The next period of emmigration was in the 30’s—for political reasons, e.g. nazism and fascism—after the 2nd world war, and again, in the 50’s and 60’s—mainly because of the economic situation.

Slovenians who left their country because for economical reasons, mostly immigrated to western European countries, such as Austria, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Great Britain and Germany. Political emigrants went to the USA, Canada, Argentina—to a lesser extent to other South American countries—and Australia.

Nowadays, there are around 500,000 Slovenians all over the world, which is a twice size of our capital, Ljubljana. On a global scale it’s not exceptional, but in comparison to our country, it is significant. In the countries I mentioned, the 3rd—and in rare cases the 4th—generation of Slovenians have already been born. Statistics show that every 5th Slovenian lives outside of border of mother country.

Slovenian Emigrants and Language

According to my references, the Slovenian language is preserved best in western European countries, Canada and Argentina. In English speaking countries—mostly USA and Australia—where Slovenians have immigrated, the language is a mix of English and Slovene, which is best demonstrated in syntax and wrong sequence of the words. Saying that, recently I watched recordings of a TV programme ‘Slovenci po svetu‘, Slovenians worldwide, on Youtube, and I have to say that I was nicely surprised to hear their knowledge of the Slovenian language.

I haven’t really immersed myself in this topic before; in high school we just learned some basics of Slovenian emigrants. The 1st and the 2nd generations speak Slovenian very well, but the success of future generations depends on the interest and organisation of Slovenian schools in emigration.

An interesting fact in my opinion is also how more and more Slovenians, especially younger generations, look for their Slovenian roots. On the TV programme I mentioned, they stated a couple of times, that the younger generations also have a Slovenian passport. That, among other things, really impressed me. The show is worth watching, if even to just listen and feel the Slovenian language.

Their national consciousness of Slovenian emigrants is high. I remember one lady, a Canadian Slovene, said on a Slovenian TV programme, that they are even more nationally conscious than Slovenians living in Slovenia. It was said in a funny way, but there’s some truth in this.

I think the reason for more well-tuned national consciousness stems from their multicultural environment; they don’t have a direct connection with their homeland and language. Because of that, they find and maintain communities, where they can preserve the language and customs of their mother country.

In general, within Europe, Slovenian emigrants organise remedial classes of Slovenian, and in the transmarine countries they have so- called ‘sobotne šole’ (Saturday schools), where they learn to speak Slovenian.

Slovenian emigrants maintain their language in different societies, clubs, schools and organisations. Key to preserving the language is also socialising with people and a usage of the language inside and outside of the family.

Argentina

In Argentina, Slovenian appears in printed media and on radio stations. They have a lot of organisations and societies. Slovenian centres are a point of national, cultural and religious life. There are around 40,000 Slovenians in Argentina, the biggest community is in Buenos Aires.

Here are some websites from different societies and media:

Slovenian emigrants publish a weekly magazine in Argentina

Weekly magazine of Argentine Slovenians

Slovenian radio in Argentina

Slovenian radio in Argentina

Australia

There are around 25,000 Slovenians in Australia, mostly in Sydney and Melbourne. In federal states Victoria and New South Wales, Slovenian is renowned as a high school graduation subject. There are a lot of societies, like ‘Slovensko društvo Melbourne’, and so on.

A bilingual Slovenian newspaper in Australia

A bilingual Slovenian newspaper in Australia

USA

In the USA there is the highest number of Slovenians, around 178,000. One fourth of them live in Cleveland (Ohio). Bigger communities are also in Chicago, Pensilvania, Minnesota and California. Slovenian is preserved mainly in churches.

And some links:

A bilingual Slovenian newspaper from Cleveland USA

A bilingual Slovenian newspaper from Cleveland USA

Canada

There are around 36,000 Slovenians in all Canadian provinces, mostly in Ontario (Toronto). They have a lot of societies and also Slovenian schools—Slovenian schools in Toronto teach around 100 children. Slovenian is an optional subject in matura examination. The languge is maintained by numerous societies, such as ‘Slovensko društvo Bled’, and ‘Slovensko letovišče’.

Slovenian magazine from Canada

The magazine ‘Glasilo kanadskih Slovencev’

Slovenian societies in Europe

I found also some other websites of Slovenian societies in Europe, like ‘Association of Slovenians in Paris'(Association des Slovènes de Paris) and ‘Association of friends of Slovenia’ (Združenje prijateljev Slovenije) from Netherlands.

Some organisations in Slovenia exist to stay connected emigrants and those who live behind the national border (‘zamejci’). Every year there the festival, ‘Dobrodošli doma’ (Welcome Home), is organised, which takes place in the centre of Ljubljana at the beginning of July. There Slovenians gather from around the world.

Slovenian emigrant festival "Welcome Home"

I realised that Slovenian culture and language is not limited just to Slovenia, which is great. For me it’s quite hard to imagine that on the other side of the world exists Slovenian schools and descendants born abroad, who speak Slovenian very well. It was definitely great and educational to research the topic of Slovenian emigrants.

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Our program, Learn Slovenian Online, is explained in this 40 second video.

Learn Slovenian Online — Overcoming Challenges

Learn Slovenian Online is designed for beginners. The course aims to introduce you to the language gradually, but quickly. Starting with an introduction to the alphabet, pronunciation and the sound of the spoken language. Continuing with practical dialogues and useful phrases. Concluding as it dissects the rare ‘dual’ form (which the Slovene language has in addition to singular and plural), and demystifies the complex grammatical cases.

Although Slovenian has a reputation for being complex, many have successfully mastered it, and many more have learned the basics, enough to enrich their experience visiting the country, enabling them to enjoy it to the utmost. With the right motivation, accompanied by the right tools, you will succeed.

Your Learn Slovenian Toolbox

We wrote about some recommendations for learning Slovene on this blog in the past. Using Anki for memorising new words is another tool we highly recommend. You can read about using Anki with Learn Slovenian Online here.

Have you thought about learning Slovenian with the help of music? Valentina curated a great list of Slovenian artists with clear vocals, so you have the opportunity to experience some Slovene culture while you learn.

Other actions you can take include, asking questions on our Facebook page and subscribing to our blog by email to receive our latest articles, on Slovenian language learning and culture, straight to your inbox. We have written about Slovenian slang, dialects, cuisine, and more.

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Slovenian Minorities in Neighbouring Countries

Slovenian minorities, known as ‘Zamejci’, or foreigners in English, are those who live ‘za mejo’, literally, ‘behind the (national) border’ of the Republic of Slovenia. There is no the exact meaning for them in English, because a word ‘foreigner’ can be translated in Slovenian as ‘tujec'(somebody who is from a foreign country).
‘Zamejci’ live in our neighbouring countries; in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Slovenians in Italy, Austria and Hungary are recognised as ethnic minorities and their mother tongue is Slovenian. They live in these areas from time immemorial, and because of the political definition of borders they ended up on the external side of the state border of Republic of Slovenia.

Around 80,000 ‘Zamejci’ live in Italy, around 5,000 in Hungary, around 30,000 in Austria, and around 3,500 in Croatia.

  • In Italy, they live in the following regions: Tržaško, Goriško, Videm (Udine), Benečija, Rezija, Kanalska dolina, Trbiško.
  • In Autria they live in Štajerska and Koroška regions.
  • In Hungary they live in Porabje region.
  • In Croatia they live in north Istria, Gorski Kotar, Medžimurje.
Slovenian minorities map

Slovenian ethnic minorities in Austria, Italy and Hungary

Slovenian Minorities in Italy

In Italy, in areas where Slovenian minorities can be found, bilingual signs, schools and public inscriptions exist. Slovenes in Trieste and Gorizia regions have their own public Slovenian primary and secondary schools. They can also file documents bilingually.

Italian Slovenian bilingual signs

Italian Slovenian bilingual signs

Everybody there can listen the radio and TV in Slovenian. They live mostly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, and there are a number of cultural institutions, such as Stalno Slovensko gledališče (Permanent Slovenian Theatre) and Slovenski raziskovalni inštitut (Slovenian Research Institute).

In 2001 Italy adopted the Law on the protection of the Slovenian Minority.

Here you can view a Slovenian programme, S-prehodi, on TV Koper (Capodistria)They speak about the situation in the Benečija region, you can also hear a special dialect from Rezija, which has its own orthography, grammar and dictionary, and some special letters which aren’t known in standard Slovenian. In fact, they say that’s a totally different language—I couldn’t understand it at all.

Slovenian dialect from the Rezija region

Slovenian dialect from the Rezija region

Otherwise Slovenians in Italy speak very clearly. In this dialogue you can hear the Italian melody while they speak Slovenian. The same is with Slovenians who live in our coastal area. I was surprised last time when I was in Trieste (Trst), and I started to speak with an employee at the bus station in English (my Italian is still not so good), but she asked me if I’m Slovenian and started to speak Slovenian. I was really impressed.

Slovenians in Italy also publish their own newspapers: Primorski dnevnik (literally ‘Littoral daily newspaper’), Novi glas (‘A new voice’).

Slovenian Minorities in Austria

Slovenians in Austria live in the Koroška (Carinthia) and Štajerska (Styria) regions. Primary schools are bilingual in this area; Slovenian and German are spoken just by Slovenians. Slovenians speak their language mostly between family, friends, relatives, but in workplace they speak a combination of Slovenian and German.

Slovenian minorities have their own secondary school Klagenfurt

Slovenian minorities have their own secondary school Klagenfurt

Koroški Slovenci (Carinthian Slovenes) developed two central organisations, Narodni svet koroških Slovencev (National Council of Carinthian Slovenes) and Zveza slovenskih organizacij na Koroškem (Union of Slovenian Organisations in Carinthia). In Slovenian minority regions there are also a number of cultural, educational and sport associations. They run bi-weekly magazines and a private radio station.

Online news in Slovenian, from Austria.

Here you can view the Slovenian TV programme Dober dan, Koroška on ORF K, from Koroška region. They talk about events in Koroška and Slovenia. A TV presenter speaks in Slovenian and German (just at the beginning and end).

Their dialect is very interesting in my opinion, they speak Slovenian very well. The only difference is that they pronounce the letter ‘r’ similar to French ‘r’, which makes them unique. I realised from this programme, that the Carinthian Slovenes mostly have Austrian surnames.

Austrian Slovenian bilingual road sign

Austrian Slovenian bilingual road sign

Slovenian Minorities in Hungary

The Slovenian minority in Hungary live mostly in the Raba valley, in western Hungary. They are called porabski Slovenci (Raba Slovenes). The centre of Porabje region is Monošter (Szentgotthárd) with around 650 Slovenes. Monošer is the centre of Slovenian cultural life. They speak a dialect, which reminds me of the Prekmurje dialect in Slovenia.

Monošter

Monošter

Here you can view a TV programme in Slovenian, Slovenski utrinki, on Hungarian channel.

In this programme the presenter speaks in Slovenian, the subtitles are in Hungarian, and when Hungarians speak, it’s the opposite. A TV presenter speaks in standard Slovenian, so it’s hard to hear their dialect, but the children in that programme speak Slovenian with Hungarian melody.

A bi-lingual primary school and a kindergarten in Gornji Senik

A bi-lingual primary school and a kindergarten in Gornji Senik

The Raba Slovenes publish a newspaper, Porabje-časopis Slovencev na Madžarskem (‘Porabje-A newspaper of Slovenes in Hungary’). In this newspaper they write mostly in standard Slovenian, with some articles in their special dialect. You can find all of their publications here.

Raba Slovenian dialect

Raba Slovenian dialect

Final Thoughts

In theory, all three countries lawfully take care of their Slovenian minorities, but the reality is different. Slovenians in these areas are confronted with diverse pressures, for example, their culture and the language are liable to assimilation. But when I watched these broadcasts of TV programmes from all three countries, I saw that the situation is not so black, in fact it is encouraging, and the younger generations preserve Slovenian very well.

Foreign words influencing the Slovenian language

Denizens are words that came from other languages and are now completely adapted to the Slovenian language. They are pronounced, written and inflected by Slovene literary language rules.

Nowadays we bear witness to an mass acquisition of words from foreign languages, mainly from Germanic and Romance languages. There are more and more companies, commercials and inscriptions that include English descriptions for example.

Many of the people who name products, concepts, phenomena, businesses, or anything similar, think that the item will sell better, if words from other languages are used. This is because they believe that will make them more outstanding and more attractive.

Slovenian has been influenced by the English language for the last 50 years. Pupils and students learn it from an early age. The American culture, movies, music and technology contribute their share to this. Especially in slang, a lot of English words exist, as I wrote about in my post on Slovenian Slang.

Many people think that they will look more intelligent if they will use foreign words, instead of Slovenian. Sometimes that is true, but if there are too many foreign, and somehow non-domestic expressions, it becomes annoying. Not everybody understands what a certain denizen means in Slovenian. Especially if the expressions were introduced to the language recently. And if we have already a certain expression for something in Slovenian, an usage of a denizen is not necessary.

When I did a little online research, I realised there are a lot of words which have been introduced to Slovenian and totally adopted. Most of them come from Latin, Greek, French and English.

Here are some of them:

Denizens from Latin English Translation
proces process
konkretno concretely
ekvator equator
informacija information
generacija generation
ilustracija illustration
kultura culture
tradicija tradition
gimnazija secondary school
populacija population
vibracija vibration
Denizens from Greek English Translation
astronomija astronomy
mehanizem mechanism
kristal crystal
filozofija philosophy
matematika mathematics
sistem system
ideja idea
psiha psyche
praksa practice
planet planet
Denizens from French English Translation
bonton good manners
orientacija orientation
elita elite
civilizacija civilization
park park
inženir engineer
revolucija revolution
dama lady
ideal ideal
moderen fashionable
republika republic
melona melon
pilot pilot
Denizens from English English Translation
rekord record
poni pony
šport sport
kavboj cowboy

For some of these words another, more Slovenian expression, also exists, but most of them are used just in this way.

Here are some, which are used nowadays which have a more authentic Slovenian equivalent:

Denizen More Slovenian English Translation
inspiracija navdih inspiration
konverzacija pogovor v tujem jeziku conversation
negacija zanikanje negation
avdio zvočen audio
emocija čustvo emotion
nervozen živčen nervous
sprej pršilo spray
sentimentalnost čustvenost sentimentality
popularen priljubljen popular
populacija prebivalstvo population
kontekst sobesedilo context
praksa vaja practice
proces postopek process
kontinent celina continent
kvaliteta kakovost quality
ideja zamisel idea
kolektiven skupen collective
eksplozija izbruh explosion
dialekt narečje dialect
kontakt stik contact
stil slog style
kvantiteta količina quantity
karakter značaj character
nacionalnost narodnost nationality

I personally prefer to use the more authentic Slovenian word, but sometimes when I don’t find an expression for a certain word quickly, I use a denizen. However, I avoid using the words ’emocija’ or ‘sentimentalnost’ completely.

You certainly noticed how all these words are similar to English. That’s a result of the historical developement of the languages. Also, more than 50% of the words in English come from the Romance languages, mostly French.

Languages are changing all the time, they have a living structure and words will always enter and leave the language. In Slovenia the oldest expressions and words remain just in the books or are spoken by older people. And new ones are being introduced so quickly from different languages, even I can’t keep up with them. Particularly those from politicians, who like to use somewhat ‘incomprehensible’ expressions. Maybe not without reason.

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Traditional Slovenian Cuisine

To compliment learning a foreign language, a knowledge of the culture and interesting facts of a country can be useful and entertaining. For that reason, I will introduce you to traditional Slovenian food.

A Slovenian Cuisine Taster

Slovenian cuisine has been influenced by neighbouring countries, including some dishes we have adopted and made our own. The most famous Slovenian food include potica, prekmurska gibanica, idrijski žlikrofi, sirovi štruklji, belokranjska pogača, matevž, bograč, blejska kremna rezina, trojanski krof, ajdovi žganci, bujta repa, and more. Some Slovenian dishes can be translated in a way that describes them, but others cannot be translated literally. For example, Potica, a nut roll, is a Slovenian festive dessert, made with many different fillings; walnuts, poopy seeds, coconut and tarragon. It’s very popular.

Slovenian cuisine potica

Potica

Ajdovi žganci is another typical Slovenian dish. It’s made with buchwheat flour and water. The word ‘žganci’ comes from the word ‘žgati’, ‘to burn’. They can be served with cracklings or with milk, and are usually served as a side dish.

Adjovi žganci Slovenian dish

Idrijski žlikrofi are similar to Italian ravioli, they come from Idrija. They are made with a potato filling.

Idrijski žlikrofi Slovenian cuisine

Idrijski žlikrofi

Matevž is a side dish made of beans and potatoes and is eaten with sauerkraut. It’s a typical dish of Dolenjska region. Matevž is also a Slovenian male name, the difference is, that a dish ‘matevž’ is written lowercase.

Matevž

Prekmurska gibanica is a dessert from Prekmurje region. In English it would be called ‘Prekmurian layered cake with poopy seeds, walnuts, apples, and cottage cheese filling’. It’s really filling, but delicious.

Prekmurscka gibanica Slovenian dessert

Prekmurska gibanica

Štruklji are made of dough with different fillings. I prefer ‘sirovi štruklji’, which are filled with cottage cheese. Štruklji can be baked or cooked. The preparation is quite difficult. Our grandmas knew how to prepare them very well, but nowadays not many people would be able to prepare them on their own.

Štruklji

Štruklji

These dishes are quite old, but still a lot of people eat them. I have to say that I’m not so keen on preparing these dishes, because they require a lot of time and cullinary skill, but they are delicious, and you can get them in any typical Slovenian restaurant. Some of them can be bought frozen from bakeries too.

Nowadays, like many places in the world, Slovenian cuisine is a mixture of different cuisines of the world, called fusion food. It could roughly be said that the most typical association with Slovenian cuisine would be meat and potatoes, but that’s just a stereotype. More and more people realise the value of healthy eating and include more fresh ingredients, like fruit and vegetables.

Here you can find a full list of Slovenian traditional food.