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Slovenia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

The official language in Slovenia is Slovene. In those municipalities where Italian or Hungarian national communities reside, Italian and Hungarian are also official languages. Programmes planned for minorities (see chapter 4.2.4) also contain support to projects linked to the development of their languages. Special status of Roma people promotes preferential treatment of Roma problematic and their language. Nest to the projects for strengthening comprehensive competencies in Slovenian language by Roma people the main concern goes to language codification and systematisation of Roma language and creativity in Roma language. In last few years more attention has been paid to the languages of immigrants and support to creative and media projects by inhabitants and organisations from ex-Yugoslav countries. Public television has special programmes intended for all officially recognised minorities. In Slovenia the problem of language pluralism is not publicly exposed. However, Slovene is a language spoken by only 2 million people and it needs to be preserved and developed, therefore special care and language policy is undertaken.

The legislative procedure to adopt Public Use of the Slovene Language Act in 2004, which gives a legal basis for linguistic policy, showed that in different societal sub-systems (economy, education and science) the protection of Slovene is considered as a barrier for development. The current status of Slovene as the language of communication in scientific research and academic instruction at Slovenian universities reflects the global problem of the relationship between national languages and English in science and academia.

The range of normative measures is therefore restricted and the weight of linguistic policy will have to stand on positive measures, which are linked to financing different linguistic programmes, projects and structures dealing with language.

The Ministry of Culture has a special department for the Slovenian language and language policy with numerous concrete tasks:

  • admonish those agencies which do not implement the legal provisions on the use of the Slovenian language;
  • monitor the inclusion of language policy into national programmes;
  • address comments and complaints from legal persons and citizens regarding the use of the Slovenian language as an official language;
  • co-finance programmes and projects which are meant to enforce, promote and develop the Slovenian language;
  • provide information explanations about standards for the Slovenian language, about possibilities for language improvement among adults and about language rights of citizens and foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia; and
  • co-operate with similar organisations / institutions in other countries.

In 2007, the National Programme for Language Policy for the period 2008-2011 was adopted as the main instrument predicted by Public Use of the Slovene Language Act (see also chapter 4.1) at the occasion of the European Day of Languages on the 26 September. Since 2010 a new NPLP for the period 2012-2016 has been in the process of formulation and is currently in the last stage of verification and acceptance at the government level – it is reported that the parliament will be able to address it at the beginning of year 2013. Main changes in focuses in comparison to first Programme is shift from the field of protection of Slovenian language to the field of language education (in Slovenian and in context of the implementation of foreign languages in the education process – compulsory secondary foreign language, English language in higher education process and in research, bi– and multi–lingualism, Slovenian language as secondary language and as foreign language) and to the field of language equipment (resources, technology, digitalisation, standardisation, language description, terminology and multilingualism, etc.). More attention as compared to previous period is dedicated also to language policies of speakers with special needs. The Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy 2014-2018 adopted in July 2013 identified a series of goals and measures to be implemented at inter-ministerial level. The measures will support excellence in artistic and cultural production in the Slovenian language, development of linguistic capacities of all groups of speakers in order to improve their reading skills, promote good-quality language skills that will be comparable to those of other European countries, and develop and promote the public use of the Slovenian language.

In 2008 the Ministry of Culture published a booklet on Slovenian as a European language, which was prepared in co-operation with the European Parliament, the Information Office for Slovenia, the Representative Office of the European Commission in the Republic of Slovenia and the Government Office for European Affairs. The core of the booklet is based on the history and present-day dimensions of the Slovenian language, its many dialects and development of the written language, its official status and the use of modern social and technological processes and of course its grammatical features. The initiative for the publication came from the Ministry of Culture's Sector for the Slovenian Language, as informing the Slovene and foreign publics about the Slovenian language, the language status of Slovenia and the language policy and culture is one of the primary goals of the Resolution on the National Programme for Language Policy.

Since 2004 there is a special budget line for the promotion and development of the Slovene language and since the year 2007 also a special budget line for implementation of measures of language policy which is also in the interest i.e. for the benefit of speakers of other languages at the Slovenian territory. From 2004 until 2007 on the yearly basis around 20 000 EUR has been allocated on yearly basis for the first purpose through a public call. From 2007 until 2012 in the range from 50 000 to 150 000 EUR has been allocated for the second purpose for support to projects of implementation of language policy measures (researches and analyses, digitalisation, creation of web tools, portals and user manuals, promotional / marketing activities, etc.) through instruments of public calls and contracts. In this period the ministry has allocated several thousands of Euros for implementation of different aspects of language policies also from other sources (budget lines) while individual measures for the field of language policies have been (co)financed also by other state bodies (despite there is no overview, the report on implementation of NPLP 2007-2011 is being made including the estimates of these financial resources). In 2007 a separate item line was introduced for the promotion of the languages of other ethnic communities. All together the amount of public funds increased from 20 000 EUR annually in the period from 2004-2007 to 50 000 EUR-150 000 EUR in the period from 2007 to 2012.

Chapter published: 11-02-2015

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