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Around Slovenia
21.02.2010 09:00
LANGUAGE, SLOVENIA, UNESCO
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Linguist Says Slovenian Language Not Endangered

Ljubljana, 21 February (STA) - Linguist Janez Dular has told STA on the occasion of the 11th International Mother Language Day, observed on 21 February, that there is no concern that the Slovenian language could be lost among other languages.

"There should be no fear that Slovenian will be lost, but it can happen, and it is already happening, that the scope of its use is shrinking considerably, primarily in science and higher education," he explained.

According to Dular, the boundary between the respect for a language and the freedom to make positive changes in it on one side and negligent attitude on the other often crossed.

This happens when a reason for change is not a search for new and original expressions dictated by new needs in communication, but "laziness and ignorance or the feeling of inferiority and snobbishness".

He offered an example of a person who has little knowledge of Slovenian but claims that its vocabulary is poor.

Dular noted that schools are taking care of Slovenian, "but one should be aware that school lessons and education are ineffective if they are not sufficiently supported in the entire social environment".

Care for the mother tongue should be a coordinated task for the entire government, rather than just for the Ministry of Education and the sector for the Slovenian language at the Culture Ministry, he believes.

The International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO in 1999 in a bid to promote cultural and linguistic diversity as a response to threats of extinction to many of the world's minor languages.

In terms of the share of speakers of predominant mother tongue, Slovenia places among the most homogeneous countries in the EU, the national Statistics Office said, citing a survey on education of adults in EU member states in 2007 as the source.

Only 5% of world languages have more than two million speakers and Slovenian is among them, taking the 179th among the most widespread languages in the world, according to the office.

Slovenian is not an endangered language, it is spoken as the first language by 1.85 million people and as the second by about 650,000 people, bringing the total of speakers at 2.5 million.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day that languages are the best means for mutual understanding and tolerance.

"Respect for all languages is a key factor for ensuring peaceful coexistence, without exclusion of societies and their members," she believes.

Bokova emphasised multilinguality, the study of foreign languages and translation as three strategic goals of the future language policy.

zm/eho
21.02.2010 09:00

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