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Temporary Croatization of Parts of Eastern Slovenia between the Sixteenth and Nineteenth Century

Changing Identities at the Meeting Point of Related Peoples


Boris Golec

This book analyzes the reasons for the emergence and extinction of the Croatian name in four Slovene border regions. The author uses comparative methods and a broad spectrum of sources. In the early Modern Age, the Croatian name established itself in these areas as a temporary phenomenon, replacing the original Slovene name, which at that time had a «pre-national» content and was also used by a considerable portion of today’s Croats. Extending the use of the Croatian name to the Slovene border regions was a component of a broader and long-term process. The author explores how this process was triggered by tectonic geopolitical changes resulting from the Ottoman conquests in the Balkans and the Pannonian Basin.

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The issue concerning the use of the Croatian linguonym for the language spoken in the Prlekija region in the northeastern part of Lower Styria (i.e., the ethnically Slovene part of Styria) has not been afforded sufficient attention primarily because it remained unknown for a long time that, in the eighteenth century, the linguonym “Croatian” covered a significantly larger part of Prlekija than what was generally believed. Even though considerable time had already passed since the publication of key new data from the visitations of the Salzburg Diocese Archdeaconry between the Drava and Mura rivers (1987),420 neither historians nor linguists had considered them until recently.421 These data include information on language, to which even the publisher of the source did not draw any attention and for an unknown reason limited the information on the language used solely to the data on Slovene and German.422

The region of Prlekija, named based on the dialect adverb prle ‘before’, lies in the extreme northeast of the Slovene historical province of Styria between the current Slovene-Austrian and Slovene-Croatian state borders and the Mura River, which separates the region from Prekmurje. In broader terms, Prlekija is defined as a cultural area, or an area in which the Prlekija dialect is spoken (i.e., a local Pannonian dialect of Slovene).423 The Prlekija dialect—according to Rudolf Kolarič most likely a mix of the “substrate” older Slovene and the later “Pannonian Slavic” elements424—developed due to specific historical circumstances: the majority of Prlekija...

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