A broad opinion in Slovakia considers the normative works by Samo Czambel (Slovensky pravopis, 1890 and Rukovať'... , 1902) to be the fundamental handbooks stabilizing the standard Slovak around the turn of centuries. However, the public opinion does not remember another aspect of Czambel's work. Unpublished verses from the author's younger years have been found in the Czambel archive, in which he is expressing doubt about the possibility of preserving his Slovak mother tongue even while obtaining a professional position, given the official pressure to magyarise. In this situation the best Slovak linguist of his time developed a tactic all of his own: he launched a theory that literary Slovak is deeply penetrated by Czech words and constructions, even though Slovak does not belong to the same Western Slavonic language group as Czech. These Czech elements are alien to the Slovak language, and the acquisition and command of this half-alien standard language therefore hinders Slovaks from learning Magyar, the only accepted language in public usage in that times Hungary. The Hungarian authorities should therefore help Slovaks in emancipating their language from the influence of Czech, helping them thereby to more easily acquire, and also mentally accept, Magyar. The article aims to show two faces of Czambel's work - on one hand the strengthening of the norm of the Slovak standard (literary) language and, on the other, his attempts to break up the old linguistic and cultural community of Slovaks and Czechs so as to facilitate the magyarisation of Slovaks in the pre-WW I Hungary.
L. Durovic, Spexarewagen 53, SE-2247 Lund, Sweden
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