Lives Journal 2

Rajko Shushtarshich




The old Latin saying says how important a man’s name was in ancient times. Today we have to write a little bit more, such as: The name symbolizes the identity of a subject – individual; or, according to Lojze Adamich, »one’s identity is one’s name«. The statement 'one’s name is one’s self-perception' does not mean to stress the ego and maybe it would be better to say: 'one’s name is one’s essence' (an individual's essence). Latin experts certainly knew what it was all about, but today we do not know anymore, as sayings are wearing out like a propaganda appeal. Even if we write a comprehensive dissertation about the problem it will not make those we do not want to know disappear.

The abbreviation M.P. of the name and surname of the authoress of a cited article (i.e. Mira Puc) as a signature under her article is particularly inappropriate. However she can not be blamed, as this was a post-revolution editor’s practice. In 1949, when this article was written, an individual (as well as his symbol – name) did not mean much. In the new way of expression, abbreviations were just adored. The initials in the gazette NS (Novi svetNew World) should additionally symbolize the modesty of an author and the modesty of an individual in SD (socialistichna druzhba – socialist society). This theme is for Slovenes again topical or maybe even more topical than it was at that time, because today we are faced with the question »What is Your Name?« just at home, in our native land.

Let me say in short: The solution is simple: you just need to write your name in bohorichica (pronounced: Bohorichitsa), the Slovenian alphabet used by the middle of the 19th century, and decisively insist on its correct pronunciation. So, the name will stay intact, except that it will be written a little bit differently (that is, in Latin letters), and nobody will corrupt it any more, whether for well-meaning, practical reasons or (only) because of ignorance or, mostly, with the improper objectives of large cultures wanting to denationalize us or, as they call this, to familiarize (assimilate) us.

The reality is of course more complex – cruel at one time, and milder at another time; however it is always necessary to look individually. An individual goes through his personal growth process in very different circumstances, and at a certain point he becomes aware of his personal identity. The cited article describes an auto-reflection of Lojze Adamich. At first, as he described it, he was even pleased by the wrong spelling of his name because »the first years in the USA, as a young greenhorn, he wanted to Americanize as soon as possible«. However his old, real name was pricking him, reminding him of his nation, his roots, and he felt that he could not uproot himself with a clear conscience. Otherwise, (according to Mira Puc) Adamich stated in his book that changing a name is a symbol of »merging the outlandish immigrants into their Anglo-Saxon environment which is often extremely painful«. In the case of an aware individual this denationalization and assimilation is rejected, and his response is often to search for his roots, nation by discovering and preserving his personal and national identity, as we call this today. A person’s individual identity and his national (descent) identity are mutually intertwined in such a way that both should be taken into account for studying them. If we waive our national identity we consequently root out our personal identity, and when individuals »in the flower of the nation« (its cultural elite) neglect the importance of their own names, they will in the same manner also neglect the independence of their nation – their national freedom. When such things happen, the nation becomes extinct.

The Republic of Slovenia spends a lot of money promoting itself in the world (it spends most money on the sporting achievements of sportsmen/women, both ours and imported ones, and also promoting State tourist products); however, its most visible representatives, in particular the most powerful media, always complain that Slovenia is unrecognizable abroad. For the prevaling Slovenian political, economic, scientific and cultural elite, the question of a national identity is not important. Almost all the above-mentioned groups/elements mistake a Slovenian national identity for the recognition of our country - the Republic of Slovenia - in the world. George Robertson, former Secretary General of NATO, replied to their complaints (as a joke, of course) with a suggestion to change their name to the »Adriatic Republic«; so, everybody will recognize them and nobody will mix them with Slovakia or Slavonia.

Our most visible protagonists regard the question of identification »What is your (our) name?«, and how this name is spelled, as an unimportant formality. As if it would be solved by the introduction of a new law - for example, the Law on the Use of the Slovene Language in the Republic of Slovenia. The questions of our national identity – Who are we?; Where are we from?; How long will we be a nation? – are deemed to be marginal, and unessential hair-splitting. Some even regard those questions as being detrimental nationalist narrow-mindedness. Mistaking a national identity for recognition of the State, the so-called »image of the Republic of Slovenia«, and mistaking an individual’s identity for an »image of the individual« (for example, writer XX) is in the case of the cultural activists inexcusable. The honour and glory of the writers recognized in the Europe and the world are undoubtedly important, and again these manifestations are only their image which will vanish at the first wind that blows. The recognition of the Land, after so much pushing, is an over-inflated balloon, whose floating only hits us in the eye; in the world this image fades faster than we can promote it.

A fearful mess prevails in written communications via the Internet; thousands of Slovenian users easy in their minds register their incorrectly spelled names i.e. without accents. In written e-mail and SMS messages the accents also disappear. In such a way the Slovene language is being disfigured as never before. However, the National Education Institute has done nothing, and acts as if the problem does not exist or as if its importance for the Slovene language is only marginal.

When in the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) they hear the words bohorichica (pronounced ‘Bohorichitsa) and »Veneti«, our ancient ancestors and similar, it ruffles their feathers; it is a public secret, in fact, that these are either taboo themes or challenges not worthy to be mentioned.

The National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia has not been able to adopt the Law on the Use of the Slovene Language for more than ten years. They did not issue any answer to the suggestion of the Revue SRP (Revija SRP /Svoboda, Resnica, PogumLiberty, Verity, and Spirit) relating to the draft Law on the Use of Slovene as the Official Language (Zakona o rabi slovenshchine kot uradnega jezika); we put forward a proposal that this law should compulsorily include at least one article defining how the word »slovenshchina« (Slovene language) shall be spelled in accordance with the new law.

We need so little to promote our identity compared to the fuss made about »recognition«, one can hardly believe it. In most cases we don’t have to do anything for Slovene identity ! In fact, nothing of what others want us to do to be assimilated. The problem of Slovenian nationality in the EU will fade slowly but systematically; this is understandable as there are so many more important common issues, and day after day their number will increase and the EU leadership will tell us which of them are the most important. Maybe this will not be necessary, as we are really skilled at guessing what the master wants us to do before he even says what he wants. The promises about the European Union, where all nations, big and small, have equal rights, are attractive. I am wondering is there anyone, except naive people, who could believe this? National identity should also be observed realistically. Each nation is an individual in itself and it cannot be preserved easily, for example by the new institutional formation – Union. In this case, it would be pretty much like in the book Animal Farm by George Orwell: »All (nations) are equal, but some of them are more equal than others.«

It has been known for a long time now that the new formations mean enlargement for several nations and restriction for others. Our nation actually has many nationalists who, in selling themselves to the EU and NATO, have surpassed themselves. The results of the referendum, where 'FOR accession to both structures' prevailed over 'AGAINST accession to the Union and joining NATO' were described as »a great victory for rational arguments«, but this smelled a great deal of selling out. Time and again we can see that being in subjection and servitude is acknowledged to be the distinct feature of the Slovenian nationality, as a first-class national dish. So, from now on, our efforts for preserving the Slovenian nation – for renewed independence – is commencing again; this is about a national movement, which we are familiar with, but somehow we do not want the fruits of our efforts.

It would be nice and useful in relation to both subjects (individual and national identity), if the system - i.e., our State, in particular its mass media - would henceforth stop being preoccupied with individual identity and also national identity in general. The credibility for such efforts has been lost for a pretty long time now. We should just be more modest and keep trying to improve the State image, its recognition in the world; in sum we should be more concerned about the »image of Slovenia«, and the status (reputation, prestige and other modalities of the same meaning) of its chosen individuals. These values may be expressed, as well as measured and shown by the »individual image« (or by the image of a great number of individuals). Regarding common values, in contrast to institutional (system) values, one cannot be more or less individual, neither can a nation be more or less a nation. They are, or they are not, what they are. In their original meaning we cannot in any way rank them and consequently we cannot trade them.

Accordingly, we can hardly say that the stubborn lack of interest in the subject of identity (both individual identity and national identity) in Slovenia is not something inherited from the former system. Judging from their activities, the same may be said for the above-mentioned national (State) institutions which are not interested at all in the concrete questions of the essential symbols of the Slovenian nation.



P. S.


As there is no way to agree on the importance of a name for our native land and State where we live, I would like to suggest two names. Aware Slovenians may consistently call their land Slovenija. Aware citizens of the Slovenia and the governing Slovenian political, economic, scientific and cultural State elite may call their state Republika Sloveni(j)a (the Republic of Slovenia), which is exactly the same as now, but this should only be its abbreviated name, as its full name will be unambiguously recognized: »Nekdanja jugoslovanska republika Slovenija« (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia). The truth is that the latter, somewhat traditional name, looks back to the past, but it is also appropriate for today. Those who are looking towards the future may ignore this temporary formation or just skip it, as one way or another some of them feel very much, or even completely, identified with the European Union.


Translated from Slovenian Tajana Ida Feher




Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)