On September 1, the Slovak parliament made it largely illegal for its citizens to use any language other than Slovak. The use of minority languages in “official” situations is now punishable by fines of up to €5,000 (US $7,270)—and possible offenses include:
a fireman responding in Hungarian to a call for help from a person in a burning building; a civil servant discussing job opportunities with an unemployed Roma in Romany; a German book club discussing a book in German without first introducing it in Slovak; a [train] conductor addressing a passenger in Hungarian on a train from Slovakia to Hungary; a radio station broadcasting in English without Slovak translation; failure to re-carve a 50-year-old grave marker [into Slovak]
(I know from experience that not even manhole covers in Slovakia are allowed to display the old Hungarian-language inscriptions.)
How these rules will be enforced in daily life is another matter; the law appears to rely, at least in part, on denunciations. It’s enough to scare public employees in Slovakia—including even doctors, teachers, postal workers, and railroad clerks—into self-censorship.
Visit the post for Deák’s discussion of the depressing politics involved. (Thanks for the link, Jim.)
Important update. It would seem that Mr. Deák (whose writing I have enjoyed in the past) is lying and/or wildly exaggerating to express/stoke Hungarian fears. See bulbul’s detailed post on the subject.