That distant rustling sound…

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11 Comments

  1. It sounds like when you translate a phrase directly to English you need to talk in ‘Yoda-speak.’ Just curious, and you may have mentioned this in another strip, what prompted you to live in Slovakia and learn the language?

  2. When I had some old letters (1940s/1950s) written to my family from Slovakia translated by a guy in Slovakia he seemed to struggle a bit with some words and sentences. My family was from the Zahorie region. The translator was from the central region. At the time I was confused about why that was a problem.

    It’s good to have a codified official language, but I worry that these regional dialects might disappear with little documentation and historical preservation…

      1. The funny thing is, the older people get, the more they start to talk in dialects – at least that is what I can see around me.

        Also, talking vyhodnarski with a person I just met at a party, much to confusion of all the other partygoers, was a great pastime in my college years…

      2. Peter — Interesting; why do you think this is?
        A) because they ARE older, they grew up speaking their dialect?
        B) because as the GET older, they value their dialect more?
        You say they START speaking in dialect at an older age?
        In my experience most older people STILL speak in dialect, whereas most kids do NOT… But I suppose I haven’t been around Slovakia for long enough to watch my younger friends grow older and START speaking in dialect.
        ~ M

  3. Excellent point, Marek. It’s depressing how often throughout history, formerly oppressed groups would turn around and basically do the same things to the groups that use to oppress them. Slovaks holding on to their language and identity after a thousand years under Hungarian rule is a beautiful story. But once in power some of the things…the Jews, Germans, Roma, Hungarians in Slovakia…not such a pretty story. Lots of nuisance, some bad people and some heartbreaking stuff.

    I’m personally, less concerned about ‘safeguarding’ local cultures than I am about documenting them for historical purposes. There’s no need for people to wear the old folk costumes anymore, but it’s nice to know what the old traditions were, especially as a guard against future white washing of history.

    As you envisioned your great grandmother traveling west from eastern Slovakia on your train ride, perhaps you were also thinking about how she lived and how she spoke. In that way, I think Sarisski is more special for you?

    I was surprised to learn that the Zahorie dialect was more gender neutral than the Slovak language for example. I thought that was cool. Are there regional guide books anywhere on the local dialects? Fun books that may list various phrases, pronunciations, unique words… We have them here for silly things like the regional Pittsburgh dialect. You’d be surprised about how many weird phrases we have in Pittsburgh. Americans might be a more nostalgic people in general than Slovaks though, so I don’t know how well those things would sell over there…?

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