Lives Journal 2

Jolka Milich




(Are the frontiers really only in our heads?)


I have a question for our Prime Minister Borut Pahor, which is for me very important (crucial), maybe even more important than the questions they usually ask him; so the Prime Minister, or somebody entitled to answer in his name, will make me really happy if he first takes this issue into deliberation and only then reply to me, as I do not want just formal politeness - bla, bla, bla, … but a well considered and serious answer. I am not the only one who will be grateful but also most of the Primorska people as well as those who live near the frontiers being torn down.

I have recently* read in the journal Primorske novice and also in our other press – as this news was met with a wide response – that the newly elected Prime Minister and the Mayor of Nova Gorica, Brulc and co., are glad to unite Nova Gorica and Gorizia into a single city. When that happens, in the Slovenian Nova Gorica and the Italian Gorizia, mostly settled by Italians, the famous mental frontiers will presumably start to drop down en masse – I assume accompanied by a lot of fuss – and one may say the new era will start; the era of European mutual cooperation and gradually-constructed total coexistence. My question is the following: In which language will the celebration take place? – How will we communicate during this scenario of the brotherhood and unity process (well-known to us from former experience)? In Esperanto? In English, which will be collectively elected as the lingua franca? Or maybe our neighbours – handy, as they are: detto, fatto! [said-done] – will provide a personal interpreting device and when thy feel like talking, they will pull it out of their pocket and talk to us fluently through its bilingual mouth? On the our side, in fact, the language barriers and dialect fences as well as the iron curtains dropped down a long time ago, and sometimes I think even too radically, as we Slovenians have already mostly been bilingual or multilingual, which I am afraid cannot be said, although I would love it to be otherwise, for our mostly mono-lingual neighbours for whom the Slovene language (with rare exceptions) is all Greek; what is more, they do not care about the Slovene language and most of the time they do not want even to talk about it; for some of them – those with a prejudice against foreign languages in their heads, not only with barriers and fences, who are pretty hostile to us, and moreover many more than a few of them unfortunately – our Slovene language is nothing more than, as they call it, the lingua di merda [good-for-nothing language or literally "shit language"]. As they say, it is more for the toilet than for their mouths. Allora? What now? How does our celebrated summit plan to carry out this process of becoming a single city and creating a common environment? Is it possible that our summit quietly suggests or abandons us to be deprived of our national identity for the sake of a pure and untroubled love towards: the dream-EU; the EU we were dreaming of; and finally the unfinished dream of the EU, which could not continue for long, should it demand such a great sacrifice from its weaker members, citizens and satellite States.


This question is not written by some narrow-minded country-dweller, burdened by his nationality with a conservative attitude, but – so they say – a very capable and gifted translator of the Italian language with a lot of bilingual translated material, a person who is at home in both languages and who has a very vivid picture of all these multi-layered and many-sided problems. Have we, as a nation and as individuals, struggled in vain - with Belgrade, for example - only now to look passively at how Brussels, without batting an eyelid, is letting our numerically-superior neighbours gobble us up? Our political summit even gave its absolute consent, and it seems that it will very creatively include in the realization of this objective by various investments, both European and domestic, the conclusion this heroic deed in the record time? Why did we then struggle in the first place? Why independence, and then parliament and army, the embassies and similar things? As a matter of fact they are only expensive jokes for a small country which will in a few decades become a sleepy and half-forgotten suburb of the borderland people, and its language will disappear, at least publicly. The first to disappear will be the Slovenian Istria, and then Gorica and other parts of the Primorska region etc. Are we really a folk from some lower cultural class, as all our neighbouring countries like to say, because, as they say, the lower cultures like very much to follow the example of big ones and over the decades they lose their face (Slov. colloquial: faca or fris) and like to see themselves as an amphibian and not what they really are; in the end they erase the last obvious signs of their existence and take over foreign languages and customs. And there we are again – in the two cities, Nova Gorica and Gorizia, joined into a single city. In Nova Gorica, meaning in the Slovenian part, the gossip and chatter can be heard only in Italian, because the citizens of the other half, situated in Italy, are not able to speak our language, as they are unwilling to learn it. Once again we will get equality and a multicultural environment in a typical European way: all those small cultures will be almost equal to the big ones – providing that they take over the foreign languages. Otherwise, they will have rights only on paper, on a paper which can say anything; as a matter of fact, the people will experience day after day, non-stop, only lovely, sweet and variegated chicaneries and deceptions, and then the cutting of funds for domestic press media and similar insidiousness and squabbles, until they become bored to death and surrender themselves, like over-ripe pears, beaten down. As a matter of fact, Brussels also acts in accordance with Orwell’s order from Animal Farm, but Brussels uses a custom-made version: All nations-languages are equal, but the western nations-languages – which are approved as historical – are more equal than the eastern and non-historical. If we allow the application of such standards and rules, they will never give up their habit of using them. They will likely give up such habits only after many years, once those who have been double-crossed and deceived have risen up, but I am afraid that for many a man and many things it will be too late then. This is also a scenario well known to us. To my sorrow, there’s nothing new under the sun.



* P. S.


The above-mentioned question for our Prime Minister Borut Pahor, had already been asked in the magazine Revija SRP 89/90, February 2009 (SRP stands for Freedom, Truth, Bravery), shortly after his election in 2008, but nobody responded to it, neither to support it or object to it, as if nobody had asked anything. The Prime Minister to whom the question was addressed did not even utter one word in reply, although he is known for his good manners and eloquence. Today I want to add that in the meantime the situation has not been improved - moreover it has become worse, in particular regarding the official (state) measures towards Slovenia, as our western neighbours somehow want to revive the defence of their supreme goals and ideas, as they call them, and, in accordance with their more than century-old historical tradition, they are preparing a ruthless and inexorable cultural-civilization war, which is directed towards preserving and improving the Italian position and their language. In other words: the less visible the Slovene language, the better (or better still, completely invisible). According to the motto “A multi-culture door is thrown open – but God forbids the use of the Slovene language - it should be in the urban Italian language (lashki jezik), as the people hardly know the Slovene language, but the Italian language is babbled even by Slovenian babies. Well then, you may offer salutations at the beginning of the meeting in Slovene – dober dan or dober vecher – and at the end – lahko noch or nasvidenje – this will be stoically tolerated; your Italian neighbours will not be bothered and will not take this for provocation - on the contrary, the meeting will improve its folklore level because of such greetings; with your greetings you may also bring sausages, pork cracklings and Teran (wine), besides some rural musician in national costume will be just fine and allow him to accompany you, so we all can dance at the end, although you will not sing ringa ringa raja, kuzhek pa nagaja, but of course: giro, giro tondo, com'è bello il mondo … At the table loaded with – mostly your specialties, we will crunch them together with a great appetite (we will make our best efforts, as we are doing everything and sacrificing ourselves for membership of this blessed Europe!) – at the same time we will cultivate a friendship. I am repeating the question for the Slovenian leader Borut Pahor: Could we expect such a feature-length film, blessed by our beloved summit with you at its head, or even something worse?


Translated from Slovenian Tajana Ida Feher




Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)