Scholarly article on topic 'Multicultural Character of Slovak Standard Lexis'

Multicultural Character of Slovak Standard Lexis Academic research paper on "Civil engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Civil engineering, author of scientific article — Oľga Škvareninová

Abstract The paper deals with the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis, which is based on the acquisition of foreign lexemes and their adaptation into the language system of Slovak. It focuses on languages that have left important traces on Slovak lexis. The paper also considers five main factors that determine the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis from the point of view of language ecology: language status, linguistic similarity, linguistic contrast, particularities of language, and codification of language. The influence of these factors on the hosting language represents a complex eco-linguistic phenomenon that is regularised in and by communication.

Academic research paper on topic "Multicultural Character of Slovak Standard Lexis"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 236 (2016) 119 - 124

International Conference on Communication in Multicultural Society, CMSC 2015, 6-8 December

2015, Moscow, Russian Federation

Multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis

Ol'ga Skvareninová*

University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Faculty of Mass Media Communication, Nám. J. Herdu 2, Trnava 917 01, Slovak Republic

Abstract

The paper deals with the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis, which is based on the acquisition of foreign lexemes and their adaptation into the language system of Slovak. It focuses on languages that have left important traces on Slovak lexis. The paper also considers five main factors that determine the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis from the point of view of language ecology: language status, linguistic similarity, linguistic contrast, particularities of language, and codification of language. The influence of these factors on the hosting language represents a complex eco-linguistic phenomenon that is regularised in and by communication.

© 2016 The Authors.Published by ElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute).

Keywords: Borrowings; eco-linguistic; language ecology; lexeme; Slovak

1. Introduction

Slovak as a language is relatively open to the enrichment of vocabulary and the penetration of foreign elements. It is a mid-open language, which means that many foreign words enter Slovak lexis but linguists keep a very close eye on them - i.e. their penetration is not unrestrained. In addition to that, foreign words pass through a so called "word market" - only if there is demand on the part of language users, these words actually become part of the system (Ondrejovic, 2009).

The process of internationalisation of Slovak lexis by means of borrowing foreign-language elements was more or less present in the past and is still present nowadays. Already in the first half of the 19th century, Eudovit Stur, the codifier of the standard Slovak language, readily borrowed and actively used some Czech words. The same applies

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +42-133-556-5111. E-mail address: olga.skvareninova@ucm.sk

1877-0428 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute). doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.12.047

today - we enrich Slovak with foreign-language neologisms and adapt them naturally to our grammatical system. Such new words take gender and case suffixes, they are inflected and further used for different word-formation processes. When communicating, Slovak speakers systematically employ Proto-Slavonic and Old Slavonic words along with those that came into Slovak from other languages, during its long history or just recently. A considerable part of foreign-language elements in Slovak has been naturalised to such a degree that most Slovak native speakers perceive them as expressions coming from their own language, without even suspecting their foreign origin.

Many Slovak linguists consider borrowing of foreign-language elements into Slovak as a proof of "vocabulary dynamics" (Horecky, Buzássyová, Bosák et al., 1989) or a "universal way of enriching the lexis of a language" (Dudok, 2012, p. 271). This language phenomenon is also characterised as a process in which "the dominant, donor language exercises an influence on paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations of the hosting language - i.e. on its innermost system" (Tibenská, 2007, p. 136), as a "constant communicative coping with foreign-language innovations on the part of a language community" (Dolnik, 1999, pp. 77-78) or as "communicative penetration" (Bohmerová, 2012). Slovak contemporary linguistics publications focus mostly on English loans; papers and other contributions dealing with foreign words in Slovak also usually dedicate the biggest part to English borrowings (one can find more facts about English borrowings in Slovak and about Slovak linguistic publications and papers in the paper written by Skvareninová (2015)). This situation is undoubtedly provoked by the fact that English is the language from which most loan words currently come (not only) into Slovak.

At the moment, more than 100 languages are unequally participating at the evolution of Slovak lexis. A large majority of these languages has only a limited or no real impact on Slovak vocabulary (Dudok, 2012, p. 264). However, they increase its multicultural character.

Our initial question therefore stands as follows: From the point of view of language ecology, which factors participate at the building of the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis? We suppose that there are several different factors and their influence on language is rather complex.

2. Data and methods

The basic materials that we work with in this study are two Slovak codification manuals: Pravidlá slovenského pravopisu [Rules of Slovak Spelling], used for the purpose of correct writing, and Krátky slovník slovenského jazyka [Short Dictionary of the Slovak Language], used for vocabulary - both are available also online at http://slovniky.korpus.sk/. The data we offer were also checked in Slovensky národny korpus [The Slovak National Corpus], which is an electronic database containing real-world, authentic Slovak texts (available online at: http://korpus.juls.savba.sk/).

The research is aimed at those factors that determine the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis from the point of view of language ecology. Our research methods include analysis of Slovak codification manuals, scientific literature, and desk study. We focus our attention especially on those donor languages that have left more important traces on Slovak lexis and that traditionally provide it with multicultural elements. Among non-Slavonic languages, we should mention Latin and Greek (borrowings of which came into Slovak mostly through Latin), French, German, Hungarian and, of course, English, and, as a Slavonic language, Czech.

3. Results and discussion: factors that determine the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis

On the basis of the study of linguistic literature, material analyses and desk studies, we systematised and defined the following factors that determine the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis from the point of view of language ecology: (1) language status, (2) linguistic similarity, (3) linguistic contrast, (4) particularities of language, and (5) codification of language. The influence of these factors represents a complex eco-linguistic phenomenon. It is not possible to establish a clear hierarchy of individual factors; we do so only for methodological reasons.

3.1. Language status

There is a direct proportion between language status and its influence on other languages: the higher the status is, the bigger the influence that it exercises on other languages (compare S. Ondrejovic: "the higher the language status

and prestige, the smaller the influence of other languages" (Ondrejovic, 1996, p. 10)). While Latin used to be the most prestigious language for Slovak speakers in the past, its status and functions are progressively substituted by those of English, the language of globalisation. However, we cannot forget that the vast majority of English loan words are in fact "internationalisms with a common Greco-Latin origin which have been enriching our languages for centuries" (Simková, 1999, p. 135). For this reason, words of Latin origin and those borrowed through it from Greek constitute the greatest part of foreign elements in Slovak lexis. In everyday communication, they are used either as semantically unmarked words or words with a certain degree of expressivity. Some of the unmarked Slovak words borrowed from Latin are for example the names of months and the following words (English translation in brackets): advokát [advocate], hierarchia [hierarchy], logika [logic], kancelária [office], klient [client], kostol [church], kríz [cross], partner [partner], profesor [professor], titul [title], vákuum [vacuum], arogantny [arogant], diskrétny [discrete], komplikovany [complicated], precízny [precise], recyklovany [recycled], stabilny [stable], systematicky [systematic], persona non grata. According to E. Tibenská (2007, p. 142), words marked with some degree of expressivity are, among others, these adjectives: absolútny [absolute], brutálny [brutal], extrémny [extreme], maximálny [maximum], totálny [total]. Greek origin is undeniable in Slovak words, such as anjel [angel], hymna [anthem], komédia [comedy], metóda [method], pápez [pope], stratégia [strategy], teória [theory], cynicky [cynical].

Another language that used to have an important status in the past is French. Nowadays, "words of French origin represent the 'higher' social class oftheir users in Slovak" (Mistrík, 1988, p. 53). In Slovník cudzích slov [Dictionary of Foreign Words], there are more than 4200 words of French origin (Valentová, 2012). We could mention for example adresa [address], aperitív [aperitif], balada [ballad], blondína [blonde], brozúra [brochure], bujón [bouillon], diamant [diamond], esej [essay], garáz [garage], hotel [hotel], kravata [tie], krieda [chalk], likér [liquor], parfum [perfume], plomba [filling], pomáda [pomade], profit [profit], reklama [advertisement], román [novel], rúz [lip rouge], servis [service], sampiñón [champignon], sampión [champion], záner [genre].

A specific place in this context can be attributed to German that had "a long-lasting but discontinuous influence on Slovak in terms of time" (Tibenská, 2007, p. 143). Many German loan words that we use in everyday communication have been totally naturalised, and ordinary language users do not perceive their foreign, Germanic origin any more. These include words, such as cibul'a [onion], cukor [sugar], farba [colour], fl'asa [bottle], jarmok [fair], kuchyña [kitchen], mních [monk], papier [paper], posta [post office], rytier [knight], ryza [rice], sunka [ham], svagor [brother-in-law], zeml'a [bun], zula [granite], dakovat' [to thank], krstit' [to baptise], musiet' [to have to], sl'ahat' [to whip], zehnat' [to bless]. Nowadays, Slovak is borrowing some technical terms, such as Ich-forma [IchForm, first-person narrative] or leitmotív [leitmotif] from German.

Currently, the highest language status, from the Slovak point of view, is undoubtedly attributed to English. The penetration of English words into Slovak lexis is closely related to social, economic and political changes that followed November 1989 as well as to scientific and technological progress, development of financial and bank sphere, international co-existence of states and globalisation. Slovak lexis is being enriched also "by employing top managers from abroad in foreign companies in Slovakia, by hosting cultural institutions and by making country's stranger communities more visible" (Dudok, 2012, p. 267).

In this place, it is important to notice that the status of English in Slovak tends to rise as it becomes a prestigious, and sometimes even dominant foreign language. In many professions, fluency in English is one of the basic conditions that job applicants have to satisfy.

In connection with the reception of Anglicisms in Slovak, we often speak of the internationalisation of our language, of language globalisation, of Américanisation or even of McDonaldisation. Slovak linguist Ján Kacala in one of his popularising articles says that through Anglicisms, vacuous, consumption culture as well as aggression and violence are penetrating our society (Kacala, 1994, p. 3). However, most Slovak linguists and ordinary language speakers do not share his opinion. Slavomir Ondrejovic, another Slovak linguist, thinks that Slovak is a language which has been relatively open to the reception - the same way all natural languages do (and history proves it)" (Dolnik, 2010, p. 69). I completely agree with this point of his. In Slovak linguistic literature, Anglicisms are also considered as "a contribution to the quality of international communication as well as to the evolution of Slovak lexis. This does not apply, however, to their superfluous and artificial usage or the situations in which English terminology is used even if there are deep-rooted Slovak equivalents" (Oravcová, 1994, p. 269). Sociolinguistic

research shows that Anglicisms (and other lexemes of foreign origin) are used in communication mostly to fill the gaps in the lexis, if they satisfy certain communicational needs of speakers of the recipient language, and eventually if recipient language equivalents are too complicated (e.g. too descriptive).

Meaning of many Anglicisms in Slovak is obvious to anyone competent in English without a translation being necessary. Such English loanwords in Slovak include: bestseller, blues, bojkot, copyright, evergreen, farma, fit, hit, interview, laser, manazer, outlet, outsider, paperback, slogan, stand-by, star, steward, stres, welcome drink, VIP, western, and many others. (Other examples of Anglicisms in Slovak are in section 3.5.).

3.2. Linguistic similarity

From those languages which are typologically similar to Slovak, Czech has always exercised the biggest influence on its multicultural character. We can even say that it is the language that "played an 'identification role' in relation to Slovak" (Dolnik, 2010, p. 94). Firstly, these two languages are closely linked to each other, particularly at the genetic, typological, geographical, historical and cultural level. Secondly, even after the 1993 foundation of two independent, Slovak and Czech Republics, both languages (and countries) continue to be in contact thanks to political, social, economic, cultural and other exchange. The contact-based influence of Czech on Slovak is more intensive than vice versa, and many Czech words in Slovak are not perceived as borrowings. At present, there are two main types of loans from Czech in Slovak: those which belong to the standard language and are considered as an organic part of Slovak (cestopis [travelogue], cit [sense], dojem [impression], jazda [ride], latka [fabric], nalada [mood], prvok [element], rozbor [analysis], rozhlas [radio], spotreba [consumption], ucel [purpose], ustava [constitution], uvaha [reflection], zlucenina [compound], zmluva [contract]), and those which are qualified as substandard, and even though they are used in every-day communication, they are not part of the standard lexis (botnik [shoe cupboard], dopis [letter], hranolky [fries], hruza [horror], jednanie [dealing], kutil [DIY], posilovna [fitness gym], pradlo [laundry], predsedkyna [chairwoman], prehlasenie [declaration], rohlik [roll], salam [salami], sluchatko/sluchatko [receiver / earphone], snimok [shot].

Other Slavonic languages, i.e. those which are typologically similar to Slovak, have always had a relatively small impact on its lexis.

3.3. Linguistic contrast

The factor that we call "linguistic contrast" reflects especially on foreign words borrowed from Hungarian, the language that played a "fortification role" in relation to Slovak (Dolnik, 2010, p. 94). At this point, it is necessary to stress that even though Slovaks used to live within the same political entity as Hungarians, they never used the Hungarian language as much as Latin or Czech. Through Hungarian, Slovaks were able to perceive differences between two typologically unlike languages, to activate and strengthen their Slavonic language consciousness, to constitute and solidify standard Slovak as an important attribute of the Slovak nation. Many Hungarian words have been modified and adapted to satisfy the needs of Slovak lexis. Those which are still used include for example banovat' [to regret sth], batoh [backpack], bestia [beast], cardas [czardas], cizma [boot], fanka [a traditional pastry], grof [earl], gulas [goulash], chyr [rumour], kastiel' [manor house], koc [carriage], pagac [scone], tarhona [durum-wheat semolina], t'archa [burden], t'ava [camel], vankus [pillow]. Certain words of Hungarian origin are used only in some dialects or in a non-standard language (bales [flat cake, a traditional pie]) (Ondrejkova, 2011). However, we do not agree with E. Tibenska that a lot of Hungarian words in present-day Slovak are colloquial or marked with a higher degree of expressivity (Tibenska, 2007, p. 145).

3.4. Particularities of language

Slovak standard lexis comprises equally some words denoting specific phenomena and elements that characterise a certain country or culture. According to J. Mistrik (1988, p. 53), such lexemes are typical foreign words because even ordinary speakers perceive them as foreign, non-Slovak. These include for example words borrowed from Norwegian: slalom [slalom], Finnish: sauna [sauna], tundra [tundra], Icelandic: gejzir [geyser], Hebrew: harem

[harem], Japanese: kimono [kimono] or Persian: tulipán [tulip], narcis [daffodil]. At present, the influence of these languages on the enrichment of Slovak lexis is relatively small.

3.5. Codification of language

Codification is of great importance when speaking about preserving language identity and balance. It is closely related to the adaptation of foreign words to phonetic and morphological principles of the hosting language. These necessary modifications guarantee that foreign words become an organic part of the lexis, reinforcing its multicultural character.

Codification manuals of Slovak distinguish 4 different degrees of the process of adaptation and integration of foreign words into Slovak:

1. only the original form is used: boom, comeback, holding, know-how, mainstream, outfit, outlet, selfie, selfpromo, sorry, tender (in the sense of a bidding process), workshop;

2. spelling variants co-exist: rock, rok/rockovy, rokovy (denoting "rock music"), samit, summit; sou, show; tínedzer, teenager;

3. the naturalised form of the word is accompanied by the original spelling, using the abbreviation "orig. word", for example bilbord, orig. word "billboard"; dizajn, orig. word "design"; hardvér, orig. word "hardware"; kouc, orig. word "coach"; softvér, orig. word "software"; sprej, orig. word "spray"; tim, orig. word "team";

4. only the naturalised, adapted form appears - the original spelling is not used any more: dabing [dubbing], dispecing [dispatching], dzem [jam], dzez [jazz], dzús [juice], farma [farm], futbal [football], hokej [hockey], kemp [camping], klub [club], stres [stress], sot [shot], tramp [tramp], vikend [weekend], volejbal [volleyball].

Notwithstanding the form of loan words - original, variant or naturalised, adapted one - foreign and international words do not differ graphically in any way from the rest of the text: no special font is used for them, no inverted commas are needed. This can be considered as a proof of adaptation of these new lexemes into the vocabulary of the Slovak language.

4. Conclusion

Language is a cultural phenomenon undergoing a perpetual evolution and change. Stabilising, codification changes aimed at preserving language functionality as well as its identity are one of the key factors that have an important influence on the evolution of the language. Another type of such influence is exercised by spontaneous, innovative language change and borrowing of foreign-language elements as a consequence of cultural contacts between different language communities and their members. Currently used standard Slovak is a language that works in a standard, functional way with regard to the internationalisation of the vocabulary. It copes rather well with the incorporation of foreign elements into its language system. The multicultural character of Slovak lexis is based on the compatibility between acquisition of foreign elements into the language system and preservation of the Slovak language identity.

From the point of view of language ecology, the multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis is determined by the following factors: (1) language status, (2) linguistic similarity, (3) linguistic contrast, (4) particularities of language, and (5) codification of language. Nowadays, it is the language status and its codification that have the biggest impact on the multicultural character of Slovak. As regards to the language status, the well-known principle has proved to be true: the higher the language status is, the bigger the influence that it exercises on other languages. The factor that describes particularities of language is equally more and more important, Slovak lexis being constantly enriched by words denoting specific phenomena and aspects of life abroad. The linguistic similarity factor best reflects on the example of Czech that, from all typologically similar languages, has always exercised the most important influence on Slovak. We attribute this situation especially to historical and cultural proximity between these two languages as well as to the intensive contact between both nations and languages. Compared to Czech, other geographically close Slavonic languages (Polish, Ukrainian), or those that used to hold dominant positions in terms of economy and politics (Russian) in the past, have always had a relatively small impact on the

multicultural character of Slovak. The influence of all five factors represents a very complex eco-linguistic phenomenon.

Slovak language users have always been aware of contemporary needs related to the reception of foreign elements and their optimisation with regard to the native ones. At present, the penetration of foreign words into Slovak is mostly conditioned by users' communicative needs that have a direct impact on semantic range and semantic change of individual loans. To conclude, we can say that the selection of foreign words in Slovak is generally regularised in and by communication. The multicultural character of Slovak standard lexis contributes to the extension of language boundaries, its perception and analysis.

I would like to finish my paper with the paraphrasing of Federico Fellini's words: "A different language is a different vision oflife" - A multicultural lexis is a multicultural vision of life.

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