17182Re: article about my (Slovak) mother
- Nov 26, 2006
mention of accents need not be taken quite literally, but I wonder --
did your mother who arrived at the age of 8 retain Slovak accent in
The following picks up on some of your themes. Your thoughts about
Slovak immigrants' perceptions of their place among other cultures
certainly sound familiar. They show a common underlying thread -- a
propensity to compare themselves to the few dozen ethnic groups that
have a major representation in other cultures of the world. While
that may be a continued source of frustration for some, their apparent
low representation actually lines up the Slovaks with the overwhelming
majority of the world cultures.
> Slovaks have few world-famous authors, politicians, or artistsThere are 3-6 thousand languages in the world, many multiple times
> to claim as their own."
larger than the Slovaks, and but a tiny fraction of them has anything
that can be called world-famous. Kerala has about 33 million
inhabitants, about 30 million of them are Malayam speakers, but few
Americans and Europeans have ever heard about them, not to mention a
world-famous person from their culture. There are hundreds more
examples like that.
> Their rulers were not inspired to produce written worksThere are about 3-6 thousand languages in the world, and cultures are
> reflective of their lives."
even more difficult to count. Only a fraction of them had rulers who
produced written works about them. Even the Romans wrote rather
little about anyone in their realm, including the Latin-Roman farmers
and artisans, by comparisons to writing about their ruling elite. The
same applies to most European rulers of the past -- most of what they
wrote was about themselves and their wars, not about their subjects at
large and about their subjects' cultures.
> In the academic world, Slavic studies do not have relativelyThe Slovaks are probably getting their share in the amount of
> high prestige or funding; even within this marginalized realm,
> Slovaks are remarkable for their relative invisibility."
publications about them by comparison to some other Slavic groups.
The Slavic population (100%) consists approximately of:
_5.3% Serbs, Montenegrins, Bosnians
If more than 1-2% of the writing about the Slavs in the US concerned
the Slovaks, they'd be overrepresented. My estimate is that there's
actually been more writing about the Slovaks than about the
Belarusians, for instance, which has changed only recently due to the
political situation in Belarus. This is just an incidental example:
at the most recent US national Slavic conference a week ago, 6
panelists addressed Bulgarian topics, 12 Belarusian, and 13 spoke on
Slovak topics although there are 80% more Bulgarians and Belarusians.
> it has been said that the Hungarians, who ruled over SlovakiaIt might be safer to say "some Hungarians". It's also useful to
> directly previous to the birth of the informant for this paper,
> regarded the Slovaks as non-human"
clarify that this didn't begin until the 19th century. There are no
records of Slovak--Hungarian ethnic tensions during the first 600
years of the Kingdom.
> Before 1918, there were no secondary schools in Slovakia.That would be like saying that there are no secondary schools in
Southern California today. There are and they teach in English, not
in Spanish. There were many secondary schools as well as two colleges
in Slovakia. They taught in Hungarian, and during the centuries
before about 1850 the high schools and colleges in the whole Kingdom
taught in Latin regardless of whether the students were ethnically
Slovak, Hungarian, German, etc. The Slovaks got or didn't get
high-school diplomas and university degrees like any other ethnic
group, just like the Hispanics in Southern California do. Literacy in
Slovakia was the highest of all the regions of the Kingdom.
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu
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