1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Slovenes

SLOVENES [Slovenci, Ger. Winden, to be distinguished from the Slovaks (q.v.) and from the Slovinci (see Kashubes) west of Danzig], a Slavonic people numbering about 1,300,000. The chief mass of them lives in Austria, occupying Carniola (Krajina, Krain), the southern half of Carinthia (Chorutania, Korosko, Karnten) and Styria (Stajersko, Steiermark) and some of the northern part of Istria; a small division of them is found over the Italian border in the vale of Resia; others in the extreme south-west of Hungary. Their neighbours on the south-west are Italians, on the west and north Germans: history and place-names point to Slovenes having formerly held parts of Tirol, Salzburg and Austria Proper; and on the east they have given up south-west Hungary to the Magyars; to the south they have the kindred race of the Croats. The boundary on this side is difficult to fix, as the transition is gradual and a certain dialect of Croatian (marked by the use of kaj = " what ") is by some considered to have been originally Slovene (see Croatia-Slavonia). Even within the limits above defined the Slovenes are much mixed with Germans, especially in the towns; only in Carniola are they fairly solid. Here they call themselves Krajinci rather than Slovenes, in fact everywhere the general term gives place to local name*, because the race is so much split up geographically, dialectically and politically that consciousness of unity is of rather recent growth. The main intellectual centre has been Laibach (Ljubljana) and next to it Klagenfurt (Celovec); in Graz (Gradec) the German element, and in Gbrz (Gorica) the Italian, predominates.

The Slovenes arrived in these parts in the 7 th century, apparently pressed westwards by the Avars. By a.d. 595 they were already at war with the Bavarians, later they formed part of Samo's great Slavonic empire and were not quite out of touch with other Slavs. On its collapse they fell under the yoke of the Bavarians and Franks. At first they had their own princes, but in time these gave place to German dukes and margraves, who had, however, to use the native tongue on certain occasions. These fiefs of the empire finally fell to the Habsburgs and never gave them any trouble, hence their language has had freer play than that of most of the Austrian Slavs: they have been allowed to use it in primary and secondary schools and to some extent in local administration. The Slovenes were very early (beginning with the 8th century) Christianized by Italian and Geiynan missionaries; to them we owe the Freisingen fragments, confessions and part of a sermon, the earliest monuments, not merely of Slovene but of any Slavonic. The MS. dates from c. 1000, but the composition is older. The language is not pure Slovene, but seems to be an adaptation of an Old Slavonic translation. Yet it is enough to show that Old Slavonic is not Old Slovene. Kocel, a prince on the Platten See, to whom Cyril and Methodius (see Slavs) preached on their way to Rome, was probably a Slovene, but no traces of their work survive in this quarter. Except for a few 15th-century prayers and formulae we do not find any more specimens of Slovene until the Reformation, when Primus Truber translated a catechism, the New Testament and other works (Tubingen, 1550-1582), and J. Dalmatin issued a splendid Bible (Wittemberg, 1584), with an interesting vocabulary to make his work intelligible to any Slovene or Croat: at the same time and place A. Bohorizh {zh = l) issued a good grammar (Arclicae Ilorulae, &c). To counteract this the Roman Catholics translated the work of their English apologist Stapleton, but their final policy was to burn all the Slovene books they could find, so that these are extremely rare. The policy was successful and only about 15% of the Slovenes are Protestants. Slovene woke to a new life in the latter part of the 18th century. Valentin Vodnik was the first poet (see Arch. f. Slav. Phil. (1001), xxiii. 386, xxiv. 74), but his successor France Preseren (1800–1849) appears to have been really great, worthy of a larger circle of readers. Other poets have been A. Janežič, S. Gregorčič and Murn-Aleksandrov; Erjavec was a story-teller, Jurčič a novelist, but as usual with these beginnings of literature the same man may make a grammar, issue an almanack, and try all kinds of poetry. The two great Slavists Kopitar and Miklosich were Slovenes, but were led astray by race feeling to insist upon Old Slavonic being Old Slovene. They were succeeded by G. Krek and V. Oblak.

The chief centres of Slovene letters are the Matica or Linguistic and Literary Society and the Lyceum at Laibach. The Matica publishes a chronicle (Letopis) and there are many periodicals, chief of which are the Ljubljansky Zvon and Kres, the latter published at Klagenfurt. The liberal and clerical organs carry on a lively polemic.

The Slovene language is the most westerly of the South Slavonic group. It is very closely allied to Serbo-Croatian, but shows some points of resemblance to Čech (retaining dl and tl, loss of aorist, &c). It is split into eight dialects which differ among themselves widely. The people of Resia are sometimes classed quite apart. In phonetics Slovene is remarkable for the change of the original tj dj into i and j (our y) respectively, of ? into u, and for the coincidence of the old half vowels i and u in a dull e. In morphology it has retained the dual of both nouns and verbs more perfectly than any other living language, also the supine and several periphrastic tenses: it has lost its aorist and imperfect, and its participles have mostly been fixed as so-called gerunds or verbal adverbs. The language has suffered much from Germanisms and even developed an article which has since been purified away. There is a free accent and the accented syllables may be long or short. The Resia dialect has preserved the Proto-Slavonic accent very exactly. The Slovenes have always used the Latin alphabet more or less clumsily: recently the orthography has been reformed after the manner of Čech, but uniformity has not yet been reached.

Bibliography.—J. Šuman, " Die Slovenen " in Die Völker Österreich-Ungarns, vol. x. (Vienna, 1881); J. Sket, Slovenisches Sprach- und Übungsbuch (Klagenfurt, 1888); Slovenska Slovstvena Citanka (" Slovene literary reading-book ") (2nd ed., 1906); C. Pecnik, Praktisches Lehrbuch der slowenischen Sprache (Leipzig, 1890); M. Pleteršnik, Slovensko-Nemški Slovar (Sl. Ger. Diet.) (Laibach, 1894–1895); Freisingen Fragments, best ed. V. Vondrák, Čech Akad., pt. iii. (Prague, 1896); V. Oblak, many articles on Sl. Grammar in Archiv f. slav. Philologie (1889 sqq.) ; J. Baudouin de Courtenay, Opytfonetiki Rezjanskich Govorov (" Attempt at phonetics of the dialects of Resia," Russian) (Warsaw, 1875); K. Štrekelj, Slovenske narodne Pesmi (" Slovene popular songs ") (Laibach, 1895 sqq.).  (E. H. M.)