International mother language day

Slovene: a South Slavic language spoken by about 2.5 million speakers in the world.

Languages are an essential part of the human heritage; they are fundamental for people and nations and an essential part of the culture. The EU has 24 official languages; its objective is that the EU residents should speak at least two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongues.

  • 16 February 2015 at 10:30
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UNESCO proclaimed 21 February the International Mother Language Day in 1999 in memory of the protest and death of Bengalese students who in 1952 in Pakistan demanded equality for their language. With this UNESCO wanted to draw attention to the need to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity.

Slovene is the mother tongue of most of the people living in Slovenia. On 25 June
1991 it became the official language of the Republic of Slovenia. It is a South Slavic language spoken as a mother tongue by about 2.5 million speakers in the world, most of them living in Slovenia, and the only language in the EU that has the dual. Its position is formally defined in Article 11 of the Constitution. At independence, Slovenia had fewer than 2 million inhabitants, of whom, according to data from the 1991 population census, 88.3% spoke Slovene as their mother tongue. Eleven years later, at the 2002 population census when these data were collected for the last time, Slovene was spoken as a mother tongue by 0.5 of a percentage point fewer inhabitants of Slovenia. In municipalities where Italian or Hungarian national communities are living Italian and Hungarian are also official languages. At both censuses Italian as a mother tongue was spoken by 0.2% of people while at the 2002 census Hungarian as a mother tongue was spoken by 0.1 of a percentage point fewer people (0.4%) than at the time of the 1991 census (0.5%). 

Slovene is also one of the subjects in basic and upper secondary schools. According to the Ministry of Education and Sport, in basic schools in total more than 1,600 hours per year are devoted to learning the Slovene language, which is about 310 hours more than are devoted to learning mathematics. Most of the hours are devoted to learning the Slovene language in the 2nd and 3rd grades of basic school.
 
For preserving a language, reading is very important. In 2013 about 1,190 titles of literature were issued, 49.0% of titles of Slovenian literature and other of foreign literature. In 2012 most of the material in school libraries (91.3%) was in the Slovene language.
 
Europe is very rich in languages and language is also one of the most recognizable elements of identity and culture. With accession of Croatia to the EU, the EU has 24 official languages. Linguistic diversity in the EU is a fact and cooperation with people who are speaking other languages is becoming our daily routine. One of the guiding principles of the EU is that besides mother tongue everyone should speak at least two foreign languages. Language skills are very important, especially for finding employment. 

English
is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, but the number of native speakers is not the highest. The most widely spoken languages by the number of native speakers are Mandarin, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hindi and Urdu. 

According to data from the 2011 Adult Education Survey, English as a second language was spoken in Slovenia by 65% of adults (18-69 years) and by 67% of people aged 35-49. They were followed by speakers of German (48%), Italian (14%), Spanish and Russian (6%) and French (5%); 81% of adults spoke another foreign language (i.e. mostly former Serbo-Croatian). 

Among the students in the EU who learned German as a foreign language in 2012 students from Luxembourg, Denmark and Poland stood out. 

Chart 1: Percentage of pupils learning English and German as a foreign language at higer primary level of education (ISCED 2), selected EU Member States 2012[1] %
Chart 1: Percentage of pupils learning English and German as a foreign language at higer primary level of education (ISCED 2), selected EU Member States 2012[1] %
Source: Eurostat

[1] Germany: until 1990 the territory of the former Federal Republic of Germany.
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