Albina Nećak Lük
Slovene Language Status Planning
Revista de Llengua i Dret, Journal of Language and Law, núm. 67, 2017 59
languages [i.e. Slovene, Hungarian and Italian] in Slovenia. In general, such legislation has been adopted
with the intention of protecting the Slovenian language.”6
Although small, the population of Slovenia displays quite a diverse linguistic picture: along with Slovene,
over 11 language categories/groups were registered in 2002 when the last eld collecting of data on the
ethnic and language features of the population took place. Since then demographic information has been
taken from the Population Register and data about the ethnic and language structure are no longer accessible.
According to the data from January 1st, 2015, Slovenia had a population of 2,062,874, nearly 5% of them
In 2002, out of 1,964,036 people, 1,631,363 declared Slovene as their ethnic afliation and 1,723,434 declared
Slovene to be their mother tongue. The three minority communities, explicitly named in the Constitution and
enjoying collective protection and special rights, show the following structure: Hungarian: 6,243 by ethnic
afliation and 7,713 by mother tongue; Italian: 2,258 by ethnic afliation and 3,762 by mother tongue; and
Roma: 3,246 by ethnic afliation and 3,834 by mother tongue. The missing numbers pertain to members
of ex-Yugoslav nations and nationalities,8 migrants from other countries, undeclared ethnic and language
association and missing data.9
3.1 Native speakers of Slovene
In concordance with the socio-psychological attitude described above, since the end of the First World War,
when for the rst time Slovenes joined a multinational state – the State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – through
their own decision, concern for the language and cultural identity wellbeing of their compatriots living
outside the state’s borders has been on the agenda of the Slovene state’s duties. Today, three communities of
native Slovene speakers are explicitly mentioned in the Constitution with regard to Slovene language policy
protection and promotion: 1. Slovenes in Slovenia; 2. Slovenes in three geographically contiguous territories
in Austria, Italy and Hungary;10 and 3. Slovenes abroad in the diaspora where the highest numbers are in
Germany, Switzerland, the USA, Canada, Argentina and Australia.
Provisions concerning the Republic of Slovenia’s obligations towards these communities in terms of
promoting Slovene language and culture in their settlement areas also featured in the Constitution of Slovenia
as a Yugoslav Republic. Today they are contained in the current Constitution:11 “It [the state] shall maintain
concern for autochthonous Slovene national minorities in neighbouring countries and for Slovene emigrants
and workers abroad and shall foster their contacts with the homeland.” A series of documents12 and statutory
legal acts13 regulate the Slovene state’s obligations to these communities, including helping them to preserve
their language. Slovenia has also ratied some international and bilateral legal acts on the same grounds.14
Tasks relating to the Slovene minority in neighbouring countries and Slovene emigrants around the world
6 Roter 2012.
7 This is 143 more than three months earlier; it is interesting to note that during this period the number of Slovene citizens decreased
while the number of foreign citizens increased and reached nearly 5% of the population. http://www.stat.si/statweb/en/show-news?
8 According to the 2002 Census, the structure of ex-Yugoslav language native speakers was the following: Albanian 7,713; Bosnian
31,499; Croatian 54,079; Macedonian 4,760; Montenegrin 462; and Serbian 31,329. As for the German minority, which is often the
object of argument in the minority and language protection debate, 1,628 people declared German to be their mother tongue, while
only 499 declared themselves to be German by ethnic afliation and 181 declared themselves to be Austrians by ethnic afliation.
10 The feeling of the loss of vital parts of the Slovene nation due to unjust drawing of borders is also often expressed in the term
“Slovene cultural realm” which suggests that the territories settled by Slovenes on both sides of the state border constitute an
11 Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, Article 5.
12 Resolution on Relations with Slovenes Abroad 2002, Resolution on the Position of Slovene Autochthonous Minorities in
Neighbouring Countries and Related Activities of State and other Bodies in the Republic of Slovenia, Strategy on Relations between
the Republic of Slovenia and Slovenes Abroad, 1996.
13 Act Regulating Relations between the Republic of Slovenia and Slovenes Abroad, 2006, and Act Amending the Act Regulating
Relations between the Republic of Slovenia and Slovenes Abroad, 2010.
14 Act Ratifying the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Act Ratifying the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities, Agreement on Ensuring Special Rights of Slovene National Minority in the Republic of Hungary
and Hungarian National Minority in the Republic of Slovenia.