Slides for the presentation

Miran Hladnik

Slovene Language, Literature and Culture on the Internet Slowenische Sprache, Literatur und Kultur im Internet

Concerning basic information on the Slovene literary tradition, one may note the following facts: the first evidence of written language in Latin letters dates to 972-1039 AD; the first printed book in Gothic letters in 1550; the complete translation of the Bible (the 12th translation of the Bible in the world) in 1584; the first grammar in 1584; the first novel in 1866. Today's production for a population of 2 million is 200-300 poetry books per year and 50 novels per year. The quoted data originate from Cobiss (, which is the on-line catalogue of all of the 270 Slovene libraries and it can be viewed as the very beginning of a future Slovene electronic library. The majority of the items listed above are available as printed books, while some literary items are presented either in CD format or on the Internet. I should mention that the Slovenes foster a myth about themselves as a literary nation and they imagine that literature has constituted their nation.

As a specialist for the Slovene literature I shall give an account of my experiences from 1990 on, when I, as a Humboldt fellow in Göttingen, started with digitization of literary texts. Four years later a new opportunity appeared to present Slovene language, literature and culture on the Internet. Because at that time I was on a research grant in the USA, I had in mind the foreign user, the user with no access to Slovene libraries. In this way I was trying to pave the way for such a person to use Slovene books with ease. My colleagues had similar considerations: as a result, the informative pages on Slovenia, at that time (on cooking, wine, mushrooms— were predominantly in English. I can claim that residing far away from my homeland and wishing to promote local information beyond Slovenia's borders represented an important motivation for the "Internetization" of Slovene culture. Secondly, we cannot neglect the fact that the social atmosphere of the 90s was marked by the conservative attitude of traditional humanities, which reacted with distrust and even enmity towards the boom of new media. Rebelling against this conservatism, I was more inclined to the appeals of Siegfried J. Schmidt and Northrop Freye, who advocated a scientific approach in the humanities. I regard the "Internetization" of Slovene literature as a pedagogical activity. My first-year students of Slovene enjoy seeing themselves as noble souls, misunderstood by others. They are idealists opposing the materialistic and technical character of today's world and they refuse, unlike the rest of the generation, to use modern media. My pedagogical mission is to change this behavior, to make them computer literate and to acquaint them with the demands of today's world. It seems that also the Slovene writers have decided to stick with the good old book. Only 20 from 309 registered members of the Society of Slovene Writers ( find it vital to present themselves also on the Internet (however, not with full texts), and only one third can boast of an electronic address (less than plumbers, carpenters, construction workers).

There is no official or central web site for Slovene language. Links to language and linguistic pages can be found via the Slovene directory Matkurja, in the chapter Education and Science ( Matkurja used to be the starting point for browsing on the Internet. (Nowadays it is common to start Internet sessions with Najdi si (, search engine called "the Slovene Google".) Matkurja was set up and maintained not by humanists (who in those times had no idea about computers whatsoever), but physicists and mathematicians at the Institute Jožef Stefan ( A friend of mine, Professor Marc L. Greenberg of the Slavic Department at the University of Kansas, has compiled a selected list of grammar books, dictionaries and textbooks for Slovene (; check also his encyclopedic entry Slovene at; Mark Martinec has added the alphabet (; and I have contributed two introductory chapters from the book Slovene for Travelers, which has been published 1987 and 1994, along with the clickable and audible phrases from Good day to You are welcome. Later I hired two students to convert all 1800 phrases in the book into mp2-form. In 2001 the complete book became available from the server of my home institution (, as well as on CD-ROM or audio CD for those who wish to learn the language while on the road. During his tenure on a research grant in Ljubljana, another friend of mine, David Stermole, collected and placed on-line some dialectological material, an Italian-Slovene-German phraseological booklet from the start of 20th century and an 18th-century dictionary ( David is a Canadian Slovene from Toronto and the editor of the Society for Slovene Studies web pages ( Han Steenwijk, now professor at the University of Padua, Italy, has collected excellent pages on the Slovene dialect in Resia, Italy (

At the Institute of the Slovene language at the research institute of the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences, Primož Jakopin, a mathematician (though from a family of linguists) maintains the linguistic pages. He received permission to set up the vast Dictionary of the Slovene Written Language (printed version 1970-1991; 2002) for free access (;

Since 1994 it has been possible to find some bilingual and terminological dictionaries on the web (, but cannot be compared with much better similar products for major languages. Should you be interested in speech synthesis, the location be checked. Computer-aided instructions for learning Slovene are poorly developed. Otherwise, Slovenian for Travelers, the Slovenian On-Line ( and the project Thezaurus in Australia ( show good intentions.

Along with language and literature, I shall enumerate only a couple of web locations I use most often or I am most often asked about. Slovene immigrants in America are especially interested in their roots, so I direct them to the genealogical pages (;; On my information page for immigrants ( I point to the Slovenian atlas ( for geographical data: there you can find a photo of your house taken from above if you type in your address. The second map source for mapping house numbers (in towns only) is the Slovene telephone directory (

Literature. I have been maintaining the literary homepage ( since 1994. From the outset I dedicated it to my students, which is why information on Slovene literary scholarship predominates there. I have collected fiction and poetry in a separate chapter ( Prose texts prevail because I mostly deal with them. The number of authors is not very impressive (20 poets, 65 prose works, 1 dramatist), but we must bear in mind that the editing of the collection was thoroughly individual and a sideline to my other professional duties. The selection of the authors was accidental: I scanned some works by myself, some were sent to me by other fans or generous people in printing houses; there are also some links to the already made authors' homepages. The greatest Slovene poet, France Prešeren (1800-1849), for instance, and the short-lived Josip Murn (1879-1901) have very nice homepages (;; Due to the strict authorship rights act, there are very few well-known contemporary authors on the web. Very few authors have let their texts be digitized for free. As for myself, I am advocating the free accessibility of all literary texts. Now let me express my opinion about the fear that the competitive media will reduce the sales of a book. According to the experience, just the opposite happens: the film promotes the sales of the book.

I also wanted to add the critical edition of the complete poetry by the classical poet Alojz Gradnik (1882-1967) to the list of digitized texts. I have been editing Gradnik since 1983. The critical notes to the variants of the poems are rather complicated and unclear in the book form. In addition, editing the whole opus of the classical author in the book is connected with great costs and the hairsplitting remarks beg the question whether this enterprise has any sense at all. The digital edition makes the complicated remarks friendlier. Variants of a text can be presented to the reader in a "palimpsest" manner, i.e., by loading one variant over the other on the screen, so that the reader can freely switch from one version to another (

At first, I tried to ease reading with scripts, which would enable undisturbed reading enjoyment on the screen. If the reader were interested in a variant of a poem, just by moving of the mouse over a certain verse he could open the pop-up window with the alternative text. Later, a research project at the academic institute was registered and I helped Tomaž Erjavec prepare one of Gradnik's poetry collections along with the variants and notes for its publication on the web. It is coded in the format XML and then converted to a web-form. Unfortunately, the results cannot be enjoyed on the Internet because the owner of the authorship rights did not allow the publication.

I used to convert the texts for my literary collection in html by hand, thus avoiding unnecessary tags that different programs dust into documents, and achieving very simple and clear coding. That is why some good-intended critics present my collection as "the Slovene Gutenberg". As regards the content, the comparision is extremely problematic: namely the project Gutenberg ( encompasses many more texts: 10,000 books in English, its German version ( contains over 1500 novels, 13,000 poems, 450 authors, etc. What the Slovene and German Gutenberg have in common is that both were created in 1994 by volunteers and none of the two had any major financial support. Among the information pieces in the English Gutenberg, there is also a reply to the following question of a person who would like to make his contribution to the collection:

-- Can I produce a book in my own language?
-- Yes! We want to encourage people to produce books in all languages, and we cheer when we can add a new language to the list.
Principally, the project Gutenberg is open to texts in all languages, but in reality there are only a few examples stemming from Eastern and Southern Europe: Serbian, Polish, Slovak, Bulgarian, and no Slovenian. Some years ago I contacted the editor Michael Hart sending him a number of Slovene classical works, but nothing came of it: unfortunately, real life does not always go hand in hand with principles.

There are very few authors who would primarily produce for the hypertext surrounding of the web and who would thoroughly adapt their writing to new media. Normally, texts are created in the traditional way and later rearranged for a new medium. Though there is an incredibly rapid increase in contemporary, as yet unknown authors, who put their own texts on the web on their own initiative. In most cases the texts are of minor literary value. Nevertheless, readers accept them with a great deal of gratitude. I have decided to store the links to their home-pages (which are far from being steady) in a separate chapter titled "Other web poets" ( It is impossible to overlook the rugged vitality of amateur poets. While elite literature grumbles about the crisis of literature, the crisis of literary scholarship, and culture in general, amateur literary production blooms without any subsidies by the state and often has an enviously great impact. Unlike elite authors, these amateurs can handle modern communication technology. Often they occupy themselves with music and they don't hide that they try to achieve a therapeutic effect. Noteworthy is the number of poets, drug-addicts, sick people and cured alcoholics. The texts are very diverse, but most try to entertain. Web poets are not limited to Slovene; they also use English, German or Croatian. One of them explained that thus he tries to set up a kind of distance towards his feelings. The choice is similar to that of graffiti painters (graffiti in Slovenia stick to English) and is very much related to the ambitions of the elite authors who tend to be promoted internationally. There is a number of "export poets" in Slovenia who issue bilingual books or translations of their Slovene books (Meta Kušar, Aleš Deblejak, Tomaž Šalamun, Veno Taufer). Slovenes are extremely flattered if they are noticed abroad, and they care how others accept them. Thus, the most accurate poetry homepage is that of the Centre for the Slovene literature, the institution which is responsible for translations of Slovene poetry ( I have contributed to this obsessive promotion with a bibliography of Slovene literature translated into English (

More Slovene texts than in my "Gutenberg" are available at two other locations. At Nova beseda (New word,; by Primož Jakopin, one can search with the concordance program through Slovene classical literature. The fiction part includes 11 million words, Slovene fiction makes up 2.2 million words out of 121 million words that the database consists of at this moment. The majority of material are contemporary journal articles from the Delo newspaper. Franko Luin, a Slovene from Trieste, Italy, who lives in Sweden, publishes Slovene fiction and poetry in the attractive pdf-form ( He has edited about 300 works of 70 authors and boasts himself with 162,000 downloads from his pages. On the top of the list of most borrowed books we find the poetry collection Erotika (1899) by Ivan Cankar: obivously, it has got the highest number of clicks thanks to the searchers for erotic contents, alas, not for poetry.

The present Slovene printed daily papers are accessible in a parallel fashion on the internet (Delo (, Dnevnik (, Večer (, Primorski dnevnik in Italy (, and so are the disciplines' magazines like Slavistična revija (1948-;, Jezik in slovstvo (1955/56-;, Slovenski jezik/Slovene Linguistic Studies (;abstracts only). The literary magazines are in this respect rather conservative, satisfying themselves by only their title pages on the web. The only one that exists on the internet only, is Locutio (1998— from Maribor.

Literary scholarship. In the mid-1990s I drafted the literary scholarship starting point for any Web information on Slovene literature ( and I started moving the discipline, my texts first, onto it. I didn't succeed in attracting many followers, so that there you will find only my personal clickable bibliography ( I shall list some books in Slovene there: Praktični spisovnik ([Introduction to the Slovene Scholarship], several editions;; Slovenska kmečka povest ([Slovene rural story, 1991;, Povest ([Erzählung], 1990;, Trivialna literatura ([Trivialliteratur], 1983; I should like to direct attention to the catalogue of the degree papers on literature from the Slovene Department ( The catalogue includes 1500 papers; the latest ones are fully available on-line. The collections of Slovene rural stories and the Slovene historical novel are smaller (;; they came to existence with substantial help from Primož Jakopin. The latter collection shows the big difference in size between German and Slovene literature in its clearest way. The Slovene collection contains the data on all the 300 historical novels and long stories in Slovene, while the comparable collection of the historical novel in German includes 6300 books published up to 1945.

Finally, I shall list the non-Slovene locations which include Slovene literature. Browsing huge international directories such as Yahoo would be fruitless. These sites have no clue about the existence of Slovene literature and you should consider it a success if you find the Slovene alphabet there. Http:// is the starting point for all the South Slavic literatures. The Serbian collection is steadily growing in the frames of the project Rastko (; there is also a Slovene chapter with quite a few Slovene texts translated in Serbian ( You will also find some links to the Slovene language at Reesweb (Russian & East European Studies; or when you subscribe to Seelangs (Slavic & East European languages;

Read at the ABDOS conference, Kiel, June 2004; in print. Put on Nov. 10, 2004.
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