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Language Policy in Slovakia – Means of Discrimination or Recognition?
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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Over the years, many countries have been experiencing political changes and sometimes, drastic policies have been imposed on the people themselves. Many of these changes are related to language policies in countries such as Slovakia, which raises the issue of motivating the people to obey the rules of such language policies.

Why should government influence the language behaviour of people? What is the positive effect of implementing a language policy for the people and for the government?

A language in a community as used in particular settings has basically three functions; to express thoughts, interaction and reference. However, a community without a mutual understanding or a common language is very unlikely to be able to obtain effective communication and harmony.

Perhaps languages do not often actually cause wars, but they are usually a big factor that creates misunderstanding and conflicts between people who belong to different ethnicities, religions, and cultures.

In a country like Slovakia, where the government itself are strongly opposed to the Czech Republic, conflicts over the issue of language can easily raise strong emotions. In addition,15% of the population of Slovakia belongs to ethnical minorities, which basically come from countries that are bordering Slovakia. Interestingly, most of these minorities come from Germany, Hungary, Roma, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Croatia, who have migrated to Slovakia between the 15th and the 19th centuries.

These minorities living in Slovakia tend to keep their native tongue rather than using the language of Slovakian locals. However, due to the great number of minorities living in Slovakia, language barriers can easily be created.
The Slovak language policy is one of the most controversial laws in a democratic country. Many people, including experts believe that this kind of law introduces discrimination and prevents these minorities from preserving their mother tongue. According to the law, Slovakian people, including minorities should, use the State language, Slovak during public communications, such as gatherings, simple public conversation, and other meetings.

Due to the language law implemented in Slovakia, people believe that Slovakian elites are given too many privileges, which has drawn the government to neglect the welfare and significance of minorities. Slovakia, as a member of the European Union, should not ignore their European civic obligations to ensure that they offer equal rights for all people.

The poor language law of the Slovakia only promotes discrimination, but does not protect minorities. Every country has its own government with different rules, but a language policy that promotes restriction, instead of recognition is not the way forward. It has a harsh effect on people that simply aim to protect their identity and rich tradition.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a translation agency specialising in interpreting services in London.

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Article Comments
have you ever been in Slovakia? Do you know something about history of Slovak republic? Your article is a bit stupid, cause it´s not true. that´s all
October 06, 2012 15:13:00
Barb Says

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