Considering how few people outside the Balkans know anything about Slovenia (or enough to distinguish it from Slovakia), I doubt many people are aware of the problems faced by Slovenes living as minorities in neighboring countries. (I’m using “Slovene” to mean someone who speaks Slovenian or is otherwise identified as culturally Slovenian; a “Slovenian” is a citizen of Slovenia.) Renee has alerted me to a news item about four employees of Radio Dva, the Slovenian-language radio station in Carinthia (the southernmost state of Austria, bordering Slovenia), who have gone on a one-week hunger strike to protest the end of government financing for the station. This surprised me; I knew about the Slovene minority in Austria, but didn’t realize they were facing discrimination serious enough to provoke a hunger strike. Here is an account of their grievances; for more information, there is an article by Brigitta Busch, “Slovenian in Carinthia—a sociolinguistic survey,” in The Other Languages of Europe. And this report on Slovenes in Italy includes some comparative discussion:

[I]t is not the only Slovene minority outside the independent state of Slovenia, nor the worst served. In some ways the 50,000 Slovenes living in Austria are even more crushed, not to mention the almost entirely neglected community of Slovenes living just across the border from Slovenia in Hungary [and that in Croatia as well—LH]…. [On the situation in Italy:] Italian supremacist graffiti are rife, and a crew-cut group with Nazi-like banners parades unhindered regularly in one of Trieste’s city squares. It is not a good idea to speak Slovene until you are clear of the city centre.


  1. You might know about it already, but the great Austrian novelist Peter Handke has Slovenian heritage. He explores it in his best novel “Die Wiederholung” (beautifully translated as Repetition by Ralph Manheim). It’s about a young man who crosses the border in search of his elder brother. He discovers the landscape and the language instead. One for languagehat for sure.

  2. I did not know that, and I’ll look for the book; thanks!

  3. Pardon my ignorance, but can I safely conclude from your post that Slovenians are not Muslims?;-)

  4. Right — they’re overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. (And they were considered the “Germans of Yugoslavia” — hard-working, law-abiding, etc. — so, as you might imagine, they’ve done the best following the split.)

  5. I recall some low-level discrimination against Yugoslavs in general (not just Slovenes) when I visited Austria some time ago… this was back in the days of united Yugoslavia, of which Slovenia was part. Many of them seemed to end up doing the low paid jobs… Though it was fairly low-level back then, I wonder how things have changed as a result of the career of Jorg Haider…

    Also, I wonder if it’s possible to compare their lot with other economic migrant groups – Mozambicans in South Africa, Central Americans in the US, etc…

  6. What is the Slovene name for Carinthia?

  7. Koroška.

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