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The History of Linguistic Thought and Language Use in 16 th Century Slovenia

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Kozma Ahacic

This book is the first work on this topic to have been published in English and is thus brought before the international public. A preliminary sociolinguistic survey of the major issues concerning language use in 16t h century Slovenia is followed by the central section – an analysis of Adam Bohorič’s pioneering grammar of Slovenian (1584) that establishes its position in the framework of contemporary European linguistics. Other subjects include the four-language grammatical appendix to Hieronymus Megiser’s dictionary (1592), the linguistic work of the German writer and teacher Nicodemus Frischlin during his stay in Slovenia, and the language issues addressed in the writings of various Slovenian Protestant writers.
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1 An Introductory Overview of the factors Contributing to a Literate Culture in Slovenia and of its Testimonies before the Emergence of the Slovenian Literary Language in the 16th Century

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1.1 Language use according to social status

If we exclude the clerics, the language situation in 15th and 16th-century Slovenia is best divided into THREE GROUPS BASED ON SOCIAL STATUS: the peasant population, the town population, and the nobility. That said, we should avoid the stereotypical rigid attribution of the three languages (Slovenian, German — in some places Italian as well — and Latin) to one of the three classes. This conception, while completely rejected by contemporary scholarship, can be traced in both Slovenian and international literature as late as the mid-20th century — a timely methodological reminder that the relations between such concepts as language, nation, or social status were fundamentally different in earlier periods (in the 15th and 16th centuries in our case). The role played by the Slovenian language in the Slovenian lands is understood only if the role of the other languages used in this territory (Latin, German, Italian) is taken into consideration. Similarly, the role of a speaker’s or a writer’s national or ethnic affiliation can only be grasped if language and nationality are not equated; a member of one nationality may very well have written in one language and spoken in another (or others).

The PEASANTS and their families, who represented the majority of the population,1 were generally uneducated and illiterate; what they spoke was a variety of Slovenian idioms and dialects, which differed from one region to another. Since they spoke no German or Latin (their knowledge would have...

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