Correct use of Slovak could be required by law

PEOPLE who use the Slovak language incorrectly could end up with a fine, under an amendment to the Law on the State Language approved by the government, the culture minister says.

PEOPLE who use the Slovak language incorrectly could end up with a fine, under an amendment to the Law on the State Language approved by the government, the culture minister says.

The amendment, submitted by the Culture Ministry, proposes a whole series of measures aimed at cultivating the Slovak language. It holds public bodies, local administration offices, the education sector and even the media responsible for "spreading dignified, standard Slovak language".

The Slovak government approved the amendment at its session last week.

After the session, Culture Minister Marek Maďarič (Smer) said the incorrect use of Slovak language may result in a fine.

"If media are supposed to bear the responsibility for the language, it has to be enforceable," Maďarič told the Hospodárske Noviny daily.

The amendment proposes requiring advertisements to be in Slovak, with foreign text possibly following the Slovak text.

Slovak language seminars would be launched at colleges and universities. At primary and secondary schools, experts would lecture on the proper use of Slovak. And people could only get a job in the public sector after passing a Slovak language test.

"In many sectors, the basic attributes of the use of the state language are not observed - in media, in advertisement, in official documents," Maďarič told the public STV channel on November 7.

But the amendment does not deal with top politicians using ungrammatical or vulgar language in public, or quoting these statements in the media.

HZDS chairman and former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar is well known for using vulgar language to attack the media. In September 2002, after a Joj television reporter asked where he got the money for his Elektra boarding house, Mečiar responded by shouting, "You ask me that one more time and I will (expletive) you up!"

Slovak National Party (SNS) chairman Ján Slota is best known for using obscene terms to describe political opponents and minority groups, such as Hungarians.


By Ľuba Lesná

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