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Use of Slovenian declining in Carinthia, survey shows

Klagenfurt, 21 September - Ever fewer people use Slovenian in Carinthia, home to the Slovenian community in Austria, a study conducted by pollster OGM for the Austrian Chancellor's Office found. The declining trend is due to emigration from bilingual towns, lack of options to study Slovenian, and minority organizations being little present on social media.

Klagenfurt, Austria
A bilingual place name in Austria's Carinthia.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

People, especially young women, emigrating from places with a high proportion of Slovenian speakers to large cities has had a particularly negative effect, the study found, according to a report by the Austrian news agency APA.

The trend is only somewhat mitigated by people immigrating from Slovenia to bilingual areas - the number has quadrupled since 2008, mainly because the Pliberk-based Mahle Filtersysteme company was in need of employees.

The study also found Slovenian was mostly used in speech in a private setting and mostly by older people. Meanwhile, Slovenian was least used in municipal and administrative units. Only 40% of primary school students attend bilingual classes.

The Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS), an umbrella organization of the Slovenian community in Austria, welcomed the study and said that findings indicate the national and language policies in Austria should be revised.

"Seeing as the Slovenian language is undergoing a positive change, and as the Republic of Austria and the State of Carinthia have made a clear commitment to cultural and linguistic diversity, in line with the European charter for regional or minority languages ratified by Austria, along with the Council of Europe's framework convention, this is high-time to kick-start a new national and linguistic policy," a press release from the SKS read, also highlighting some successful measures adopted in teaching that "now need to be immediately supported by legislative measures."

The SKS also stressed that learning Slovenian, along with all other minority languages in Austria, should promptly be made available and reinforced with legislation due to Austria's demographic trends and its good economic positioning.

The study was based on data from the latest population census carried out in 2001, the civil registry, interviews with various experts, and a survey among some 1,200 living in the bilingual area, according to APA.

The findings were presented on Wednesday in Klagenfurt.

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