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Reader feedback: Why should anyone mind Slovakia's Hungarians?

Re: Photos fan new Slovak-Hungarian tensions, TSS Online, August 23, 2006

Hungarians living in Slovakia is not something that you have the right to mind or not mind; if it were an immigration issue, you might have a point, but it isn't, so you don't. If you want to mind something, mind that Beneš and Masaryk got greedy and took more land than their nations occupied.

In what bizarrely intolerant age do we live where one can't speak whatever language one wants on the street, particularly if it's one's mother tongue? The last time I checked, you could get away with not speaking German in Berlin, English in London, or Hungarian in Budapest.

In the UK, what you are talking about is an immigration issue, and I agree with you wholeheartedly that if you emigrate to a different country, you should learn that country's language in order to assimilate.

Slovakia, however, is an entirely different picture, with hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who are not immigrants - they, or rather their grandparents, just woke up one day to find the Powers That Be had redrawn the borders. I'm not saying that learning Slovak wouldn't be an advantage to them - of course it would - but it's a very different issue than if they had all of a sudden decided to move there from Hungary.

Look at it this way - if it was unfair to demand that all Slovaks learn Hungarian and be schooled in Hungarian in the late 1800s, what makes it fair to go the other way now? If it bothers you so much that there are many Hungarians living in Slovakia who want to speak primarily their own language, perhaps we should consider revisiting the Vienna Awards.

Or maybe we should learn Hungarian. Hey, I'm learning Slovak - it's only fair to be balanced.

Laci,
New Jersey

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