Why the Slovak Language has Three Dialects:
A Case Study in Historical Perceptual Dialectology
This article introduces historical sources to Preston’s concept of “perceptual dialectology,” examining how Slovak grammarians classified the dialects of Slovak during the nineteenth century. The present consensus that the Slovak language has three dialects (western, central, and eastern) is shown to be a recent invention, deriving from L'udovít Štúr’s polemical needs. Historical actors select dialect taxonomies in response to a changing political situation, which suggests that such taxonomies are affected by political and social context of the taxonomizer. Examining the causal relationship between nationalist argument and linguistic taxonomies suggests that language planning does not cause nationalism, that nationalism does not cause language planning, but that the two are mutually interactive.