The Slovenia Times

Reformation's impact on Slovenia lasting


In Europe, the Reformation had a social impact far beyond the theological realm, for it shaped economic ethics and cultural change, according to Frane Adam, a sociologist.

While its impact on present-day society is not completely clear-cut and there are exceptions, many argue that North European countries in which Protestantism prevailed were more accommodating to capitalism and were fertile ground for the development of responsible individualism.

In countries and societies in which the counter-Reformation was stronger, these new economic and cultural models were established later, Adam has told the STA.

In the territory of present-day Slovenia, at the time of the Reformation a part of the Habsburg Empire, the Reformation was initially successful, but counter-Reformation eventually prevailed.

And even though some things were forgotten, the impact of Protestantism on Slovenian national identity persists to this day, in particular in the language, according to Adam.

It was during the Reformation that the first book in Slovenian, Primož Trubar's Catechism in 1550, was written, and in writing the book Protestant priest Trubar actually created what would evolve into the Slovenian language.

He took elements of the disparate vernaculars of the time to create a Slovenian literary language designed to be understood by all people living in Slovenian lands.

In doing that, he created a key building block of Slovenian national identity, which his Protestant contemporaries and successors expanded and affirmed.

Foremost among them was Trubar's protege Jurij Dalmatin, who put in ten years of work into the first translation of the Bible into Slovenian, which was published in 1584.

Linguist Kozma Ahačič describes the creation of the Slovenian language and publication of the first books in Slovenian as projects that succeeded because of the braveness of their authors.

They were well aware of the problems but that never prevented them from action, he has told the STA in reference to the strong resistance Protestants encountered, including persecution.

Ahačič says that the Protestants in fact conceived the Slovenian literary language as a project.

Trubar created the language but did not stand in the way of alternate solutions, in terms of script or individual linguistic solutions.

As a result, Trubar's language existed in parallel to Sebastjan Krelj's, with the language eventually adopted by Dalmatin for the Bible being a result of deliberations of a broader group of people.

In fact, according to Ahačič, Trubar's impact on present-day Slovenian can only be judged through its impact on Dalmatin's language, which really has had a long-term influence.

Ahačič highlighted another aspect of Protestantism's role in the formation of the language: they started out writing books for non-existent readers using language and script that the few people who could read were not used to.

This shows that the Protestants' language push, a project seemingly doomed to fail, was made possible only by virtue of the strong conviction of the protagonists that what they are doing is truly important and necessary.


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