Berger - Slovaks in Czechia — Czechs in Slovakia TILMAN...

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Unformatted text preview: Slovaks in Czechia — Czechs in Slovakia TILMAN BERGER Abstract The article gives an overview of the relations of Czechs and Slovaks and their languages under various points of view. The first part concentrates on an external view of the history of both nations, the migration between the two countries and demographic data, and the legal situation. It is shown that for most of history the political and cultural influence of Czech on Slovak was much stronger than the other way around The types of migration also differed since Czechs went to Slovakia as teachers, clerks, etc, whereas the Slovak immigration to Czechia concentrated on workers. The legal situation of the two languages was asymmetric until 1938; real equality began only in 1968. Since the division of Czechoslovakia there are quite a lot of regulations on language use in Slovakia (’ though they concern Czech only to some extent) and so far no regulations in the Czech republic. The second part of the paper is concerned with the presence of written and spoken Czech texts in Slovakia and Slovak texts in Czechia. Written Czech texts have always played an important role in Slovakia and continue to do so in a diminished form today; Slovak texts came to Czechia mainly in the short period of equality within one state. Spoken Czech texts are present in Slovakia in the media, in films, etc, and the same is true to a lesser extent for Slovak texts in Czechia. Mixed texts, which were characteristic for the time between 1968 and 1992, have nearly disappeared, with the exception of information on packages, which is often written in both languages for economic reasons. The third part of the paper deals with linguistic issues such as the mutual intelligibility of the two languages and the real influence of Czech on Slovak and vice versa. The mutual intelligibility, which can be explained by the close relationship of the two languages, is nevertheless variable and to a great extent dependent on the experiences of the individual speaker. In everyday life members of each nation use their own language when communicating with members of the other nation (so-called semicommunication). The influence 0165—2516/0310162—0019 Int’l. J. Soc. Lang. 162 {2003}, pp. 19—39 © Walter de Gruyter 20 'II Berger of Czech on Slovak concerned nearly all parts of the lexicon and of phraseol— ogy; ‘parallel neologisms” and “quotations” have played a huge role here. In recent years borrowings have declined, but many old doublets are still alive. In some minor cases influence of Slovak on Czech could be noted as well. 1 . Introduction Czech and Slovak are two closely related languages, which together form the Czecho-Slovak subgroup of the West Slavonic languages, to which belong two further subgroups, the Lusatian and the Lechitic. In spite of their similarity and a nearly complete mutual intelligibility (see below), the literary languages are clearly differentiated, which is among other things due to the fact that they were standardized on the basis of different dialects of the Czecho-Slovak dialectal continuum (Czech on the basis of the Central Bohemian dialects in the Prague area, Slovak on the basis of the Central Slovak dialects in the area of the town of Martin). Although Czechs and Slovaks lived together in one state for the relatively short period of 68 years (1918-1938 and 1945—1992) (compared to their long literary tradition—the first Czech texts were written in the second half of the thirteenth century), their linguistic relations have been very close since the Middle Ages. Most of the time, however, it was an asymmetrical relationship: Czech was used as a written language in the territory of contemporary Slovakia (at that time Upper Hungary) from the early fifteenth century, and even when slovakized varieties of Czech began to emerge (in the sixteenth century) and eventually a Slovak literary lan- guage was introduced (in the late eighteenth century), the Slovak literary tradition always developed in opposition to and in permanent contact with the Czech literary language. For some time Slovak was used to a larger extent by the Catholic part of the population, whereas the Protestants continued to write in Czech, the language in which their Bible was written. After a period during which the use of the Czech language had been weakened, mainly due to the centralist reforms of Maria Theresia and Joseph II, which strengthened the importance of German as the language of the Empire, the Czech National Movement was successful in developing a new literary norm in the first half of the nineteenth century. This new norm was based on the language of the so-called “Golden Era” at the end of the sixteenth century and was quite different from the language as it was really spoken toward the end of the eighteenth century. From the 18503, the National Movement managed to strengthen its influence on the educational system, and soon Czech was used in schools at all levels. In 1882, Prague University was divided into a Czech and a German school. , Slovaks in Czechz'a — Czechs in Slovakia 21 Czech was also freely used in newspapers and fine arts, though the National Movement did not gain any major success in the field of politics. On the other hand, the situation of Slovak deteriorated in Upper Hungary under the pressure of Hungarian Nationalism. Slovak was banned from the schools after a short period of liberalization (ca. 1860—1875); Slovak newspapers and books could be published (under strict censorship), but the literary language remained the affair of a small intellectual minority. When Czechs and Slovaks gained independence in 1918 and came together in a common state, the Republic of Czechoslovakia, the situations of the two languages were very unequal, and it is not surprising that Czech teachers, clerks, etc., became very important in the Slovak part of the country, where they organized the school system and the public service. According to the constitution of 1920, the official language of the new country was to be “Czechoslovak,” but this was a legal fiction, since both languages continued to be used as literary languages. Nevertheless the situation remained asymmetrical, since literary Slovak was codified under strong Czech influence, and in many situations Czech was preferred even within Slovakia (cf. Marti 1993). After 1930 the relations between Czechs and Slovaks deteriorated, as the Slovaks had not been granted the autonomy that they had expected after gaining independence. At this time, Slovak scholars also began to protest against Czech influence on their literary language and rejected a proposal of new orthography rules, put forward in 1931. In March 1938, Slovak nationalists founded their own republic, the “Slovak State,” which was entirely dependent on Nazi Germany and also participating in World War II on the side of the German troops. During this period, the codification of literary Slovak was deliberately set apart from Czech. After the Slovak National Uprising in August 1944 and the vict01y of the Allied POWers in 1945 the Republic of Czechoslovakia was reinstituted. After 1945 the idea of a “Czechoslovak” language was not revived. The Slovak literary language was allowed to develop more freely than before the war but continued to be under Czech influence. Only in 1968, when Czechoslovakia was turned into a federal state, did Slovak gain complete equality with Czech. This situation continued after the peaceful revolution of autumn 1989. The discussions about the status of Slovak as a “state language,” which began to emerge within Slovakia from summer 1990, did not concern the relation of Slovak and Czech, but rather of Slovak and Hungarian (which is used as a minority language in Southern Slovakia). Nevertheless the division of Czechoslovakia into two independent states from January 1, 1993, caused a thorough change in the relations between these languages, since now there is no factual “need” for either side to take the other language into account in legislation, administration, the 22 T. Berger educational system, etc. On the other hand, new problems arise for the rather large Slovak minority in Czechia, but also for the much smaller Czech minority in Slovakia. This paper will give a short overview of the relation of the two languages and their speakers in former times and will concentrate on the period from 1968—1992 (equality Within one state) and the new situation since 1993. I will begin with some demographic data and a short outline of the legal situation and will then describe the presence of (written and spoken) Czech texts in Slovakia and Slovak texts in Czechia. After this I will concentrate on the questions of mutual intelligibility of the two languages and the real influence of Czech on Slovak and vice versa. 2. Migration and minorities The ancestors of modern Czechs and Slovaks lived together in one state, the so-called “Great Moravian Empire” in the beginning of their history (from about 830 to 900). Since the arrival of the Hungarians in Pannonia, those Slavs who in the future were to become the Slovak ethnic group lived within the borders of the Kingdom of Hungary, in the part called “Upper Hungary” (“Hungaria superior,” in Slovak Homé Ukry). The Czechs, on the other side, had their own state, the Kingdom of Bohemia, which comprised Moravia, Silesia, and other regions. From 1526 Hungary and Bohemia were ruled by the same dynasty, the Habsburgs, but until 1918 the two regions constituted separate administra- tive units with their own gentry, legislation, etc. The difference was even strengthened when Hungary became a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867, having equal rights, whereas Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia did not gain autonomy and remained under immediate Austrian (i.e. German-language) rule. In spite of the political division of these two nations there was some migration in both directions during the Middle Ages. Intellectuals of Slovak origin came to Prague in order to study there and eventually stayed there. Slovaks from Southern Slovakia fled to Southern Moravia after the Turkish invasion of Hungary, and their descendants still form a specific ethnic group in the region called “Slovacko,” but today they are considered to be part of the Czech nation. After the victory of Catholicism in Bohemia and Moravia many Protestants came to “Upper Hungary,” where the literary language of the Czech Bible continued to be cultivated in a slightly slovakized form (known under the name of bibliétina). In the second half of the nineteenth century economic emigration from the rural parts of Slovakia became more and more important. The Slovaks in Czechia — Czechs in Slovakia 23 largest group emigrated overseas, many others to Hungary, but also to the Czech lands. This tendency became predominant after 1918, when Slovak workers came mainly to the industrial region of Ostrava, but also to other parts of the country (cf. Prokop et a1. 1998: 56ff.). On the other hand many Czech officials, teachers, etc., came to Slovakia in order to establish a new administrative and educational system. These developments were the reason why the Slovak minority in the Czech lands and the Czech minority in Slovakia belonged to completely different social groups. In 1938, a large part of the Czech minority in Slovakia had to leave the country, and only some of them returned after 1945. In contrast, Slovak emigration to the Czech lands became even stronger after World War 11, since many Slovaks (and Roms from Slovakia) migrated to those regions in the north and west of Bohemia and Moravia from which the German population had been expelled (cf. Zeman 1995: 525; Nekvapil 1997: 1643). Together with the continuing economic migration, this caused the Slovak community in Czechia to become so much larger than the Czech community in Slovakia. When Czechoslovakia was divided into two separate states in 1992 —l993, most Czechs in Slovakia obtained the citizenship of the new state. The same applies to Slovaks in Czechia, though there was some tendency to exclude some of the Slovak-speaking Romani. A very small, but pro- minent group of Slovak intellectuals left Slovakia after it was declared independent and emigrated to the Czech Republic. The migration in both directions can be illustrated by demographic data, but only to some extent; see the distribution of the nationalities at the censuses of 1950, 1970, and 1991 shown in Table 1 (according to SRCSSR Table 1. Distribution of nationalities Absolute figures Percentages 1950 1970 1991 1950 1970 1991 Czech Republic Czechs 8344 9293 8364 93.8 94.7 81.2 Moravians 1362 13.2 Slovaks 258 309 315 2.9 3.2 3.1 Roms 33 0.3 Others 294 213 228 3.3 2.1 2.2 Slovak Republic Slovaks 2982 3884 4519 86.6 85.5 85.7 Czechs 40 48 53 1.2 1.1 1.0 Hungarians 355 554 567 10.3 12.2 10.8 Roms 76 1.4 Others 65 56 59 1.9 1.2 0.9 24 T. Berger 1971: 85; SRCR 1993: 412; absolute figures are given in thousands). There are no reliable data before World War 11 since Czechs and Slovaks Were not differentiated in official statistics and treated as one “Czechoslovak” nation until 1938. A special problem is connected with the fact that statistics were based on the “principle of confession”; this implies that immigrants who were willing to assimilate could define themselves as members of the majority. It is also relevant that until 1989 it was not possible to declare oneself as Rom (nor as Moravian, Silesian, etc.). This might explain that the number of Roms noted in the census of 1991 is much lower than one might expect (for details see Nekvapil and Neustupny 1998). A last interesting fact that should be mentioned is that recent Statistical Yearbooks of the Czech Republic (e. g. SRC‘R 1999) do not give any figures on nationalities at all. This does not apply to the Slovak yearbook (cf. SRSR 1999: 167). 3. The legal situation As mentioned before, Czechs and Slovaks were regarded as one “Czecho- slovak” nation in the first Czechoslovak republic founded in 1918. As a consequence, they enjoyed equal rights before the law (as opposed to the numerous minorities). The language situation, however, was more complicated. Although the constitution of 1920 stated that there was a Czechoslovak” language, the language law issued in the same year said that this language had two varieties, Czech and Slovak. Each of them was to be used in its own territory, but Czech was the language of the central administration. This automatically meant that Czech was in a much stronger position, also considering that the Czech literary language had been able to develop freely during the second half of the nineteenth century and was prepared to take on the role of a state language much better than Slovak. This led to a situation where Czech was clearly privileged compared to Slovak (for more detailed information see Marti 1993). After the period from 1938 to 1945 when Slovak was the sole language of the “Slovak state,” and the position of Czech was weakened by the German occupants (though books and newspapers could be issued and Czech continued to be taught in schools), Czechs and Slovaks again enjoyed equal rights in the postwar Czechoslovak republic. The idea of a “Czechoslovak” language was not renewed and the situation of Slovak improved. This was due to the fact that Slovakia gained autonomy to a certain degree, but also to the fact that by then, there were many more Slovak intellectuals than in 1918 and the literary language had developed considerably in the Slovaks in Czechz'a —- Czechs in Slovakia 25 meantime. But the situation as a whole remained rather asymmetrical: Czech prevailed in all contexts Where members of both nations were present and Czech texts played an important role in Slovakia, whereas the same could not be said in the reverse. The Czechoslovak army seems to have been the only institution where both languages were used to the same extent. In 1968 Czechoslovakia was turned into a federal state with a Czech and a Slovak republic, which were constituted in a similar way and with the same rights. The federal government transferred part of its powers to the governments of both republics, from which time there was also a Czech government (it played a much less important role than the Slovak government until 1989). Though there was no official language law, the federalization brought about a new language policy that aimed at real equality of Czech and Slovak. For the first time measures Were taken to support the use of both languages in both parts of the federation. Mixed texts with alternating passages in Czech and Slovak began to be used in many official contexts, such as in the radio and television news; the same applied to many popular and scientific journals (but not to newspapers). Consequently, Slovak was now used frequently in the Czech part of the country, and many more people became accustomed to understanding the other language passively. It must be stressed that this policy also took advantage of the fact that Czech and Slovak were closely related. Each individual had the right to use his/her native language in each part of the federation, but there was no obligation for the authorities to produce every text in both languages nor to secure formal education in the other language. Two examples shall be given to illustrate this fact: Slovak judges who worked in the Czech part of the country could write their verdicts, etc., in Slovak (cf. Pohanka 1993), but it was not possible to study Slovak in Prague or Czech in Bratislava (cf. Korensky 1998: 32)! Theoretically the Slovak minority in the Czech Republic or the Czech minority in the Slovak Republic had the right to receive education in their own language, but defacto there Were only some Slovak schools in the region of Karvina (Northern Moravia, or rather, Silesia). To my knowledge there have been no Czech schools in Slovakia since 1945. After the end of communist rule in 1989 the relations between Czechs and Slovaks, which had been stable for quite a long time, began to change. The nationalist organization “Matica slovenska” opened a discussion of the status of Slovak, which in their opinion was threatened especially in the south of the country (i.e. in the territory of the Hungarian minority). In summer 1990 they introduced a language law, according to which Slovak was to be the “state language” (stémyjazyk) in Slovakia. Such a law would have conflicted with the constitution, hence the Slovak parliament finally 26 T. Berger passed a much weaker version of the bill and declared Slovak to be the “administrative language” (maria)? jazyk) of the Slovak republic, in spite of numerous protests and demonstrations. When the nationalist parties who advocated much stronger autonomy for Slovakia or even independence won the elections in 1992, they brought forward a new constitution, which states in article 6 that “Slovak is the state language in the territory of the Slovak Republic” and that “the use of other languages in dealings with the authorities will be regulated by law.” The approval of this constitution by the Slovak parliament on September 2, 1992, confirmed the end of Czechoslovakia. The treatment of minorities in the two new states differs considerably. The new Czech constitution of December 16, 1992, does not mention a state language nor the Czech nation. The “Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” which has been included into the Czech constitution, says that everybody is free to determine to which nationality he belongs and guarantees the rights of minorities. On the whole, the situation of Slovaks in the Czech republic did not change. There is, for example, still one Slovak school in Silesia with 38 pupils (cf. SRCR 1999: 553; Sokolova et a1. 1997: 107f.), but it should be stressed that their numbers have decreased dramatically (two schools with 584 pupils in 199010991!)I The idea to found a Slovak secondary school in Prague could not be realized since there were too ...
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