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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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2 A Sociolinguistic Survey of some key issues Concerning Language and Literary Production in the 16th Century

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2.1 Introduction

The watershed in the sociolinguistic development of the 16th century was the formation of Slovenian as a literary language, and thus the formation of a linguistic norm (1550 saw the publication of the two pioneering Slovenian books by Primož Trubar). Until the appearance of the first book, the Slovenian language had (as suggested in Chapter 1) mainly served as a spoken language, one which branched out into many dialects.22 Its public use was largely limited to the church, as is attested by some of the manuscripts listed above.23 Although those manuscripts were not familiar to the authors of the first Slovenian books,24 the occurrence of Slovenian sermons prior to the first book suggests that the preachers partly drew on a public speaking tradition, at least at the lexical level.25 Rather than merely to promote Slovenian, the main purpose of establishing a literary language was to disseminate the new Protestant creed in a language comprehensible to a wider circle of churchgoers. Indeed, a major obstacle to the spread of Protestantism in Slovenian was the lack of Slovenian handbooks, which of course affected the quality of the preachers’ work.26 Two general Protestant principles served as further incentives to the Slovenian Protestants: each believer should receive religious instruction in his own language; books should facilitate direct contact with the word and precepts of God. As is best attested by Jurij Dalmatin’s preface to ← 33 | 34 → DB 1584, the writing and dissemination of Slovenian Protestant books was...

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