Thesis Abstract

This work examines the development of national feeling in nineteenth century Slovakia.  It argues that contemporary allegiance to a Slovak nation and Slovak language developed from the interplay between Slavic loyalty to the Hungarian Kingdom and the Czech language.  This introduces contingency into the story of national “awakening”: Examining failed conceptions of the nation or national languages helps reveals the constraints upon social construction. 

Reacting against ethnic Hungarian policies of Magyarization, Slovaks developed theories of dual nationality, claiming to be simultaneously loyal to the Hungarian kingdom and the Slavic language.  These dual loyalties drew on the Hungarian concept of the “political nation,” explain a fashion in the 1860s for Slovak-Rusyn cooperation, as well as attempts in the 1890s to ally with Romanians and Serbs as the “non-Magyars” of Hungary.  Most importantly, Hungarian loyalties inspired Ľudevít Štúr’s codification of a Slovak particularist orthography:  Štúr thought that a literary language restricted to the Hungarian kingdom would win support from Hungarian leaders.

Orthographic questions have a special significance to Slovak history, since written languages form script communities, around which national communities coalesce. This work also tells the story of Slovak language codification from its All-Slav origins through the first Czechoslovak republic. Slovaks developed a Slovak script partly out of the mistaken belief that a common Slavic, or Czechoslovak, language could contain multiple written forms, “literary dialects.”  Both the Slovak national language and the Slovak nation, therefore, were unintended consequences:  Slovaks, seeking to promote a Slavic or Czechoslovak language in the Hungarian kingdom, developed a uniquely Slovak culture.

This work, then, contributes to three different scholarly fields.  It contributes to the literature on central European nationalism both through its emphasis on contingency and its stress on multi-cultural Hungarian nationalism.  The discussion of language codification, combined with the discussion of literary dialects, makes an original contribution to sociolinguistics. Finally, this work provides an original reinterpretation of the Slovak-Hungarian relationship, thus shedding new light both on Slovak and Hungarian history.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1     Introduction:  Nation, Language, and Contingency              

Chapter 2    The Hungarian Context  

Chapter 3    Imagining a Slavic Hungary  

Chapter 4    Slovak Theories of Dual Nationality                               

Chapter 5    National Languages and Sociolinguistics                   

Chapter 6    Literacy and Orthography in Slavic North Hungary                

Chapter 7     All-Slavism in Northern Hungary  

Chapter 8    The Czechoslovak Language in the Early Nineteenth-century          

Chapter 9    Štúr’s Orthography and Taxonomy  

Chapter 10    Bibličtina’s Supporters and Resistance to Štúr          

Chapter 11    The 1850s, and the Incomplete Triumph of Hattala-Slovak  

Chapter 12    Conclusion: Czechoslovakia as a Slovakizing State                

Appendix: Magyarization