Slovenian Linguistic Atlas 2: The Farm

SLA 2.1: Atlas

SLA 2.2: Commentaries

From the history of the Slovenian Linguistic Atlas (SLA)

Dialectology is the science which explores the geographically delimited variants of individual languages – that is, the local dialects and speeches, at both the synchronic and diachronic levels. The distribution of dialects and their classification can be displayed using dialect maps: the SLA contains a map of Slovenian dialects compiled in 1983 by the dialectologists Tine Logar and Jakob Rigler, later supplemented by Vera Smole (for the Encikolopedija Slovenije [Encyclopaedia of Slovenia] from 1998) and Jožica Škofic (first volume of the Slovenian Linguistic Atlas from 2011) using contemporary dialectological data. As a sub-field of dialectology, geolinguistics is interested in the spatial distribution of specific language phenomena of one or more languages which is then displayed on a linguistic map or in linguistic atlases. For geolinguistics the geographical presentation of the selected dialect material presents only the starting point for interpretation and further exploration of the language.

The Slovenski lingvistični atlas (SLA) [Slovenian Linguistic Atlas (SLA)], which is the basic work of modern Slovenian dialectology and geolinguistics, was established by the linguist Fran Ramovš in 1934, but proper preparation for the Atlas started after the Second World War at the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language (Kenda-Jež 2000, 196). Both, the network of localities and the questionnaire were rearranged on several occasions during this period. The current SLA network has been expanded to include 417 local speeches, and the SLA questionnaire contains 870 numbered questions (3065 including all the sub-questions). Questions are divided into 15 semantic fields: 1) Human body, 2) Clothing, 3) House, 4) Village, 5) Holidays, 6) Tools, 7) Livestock, 8) Plants, 9) Mountains, 10) Illnesses, 11) Time, 12) Landscape, 13) Family, 14) Counting and numbers, 15) Miscellaneous. These are followed by grammatical questions (from question No. 700 onwards), mainly covering the phonetics and morphology.

The collection of dialect material which is stored in the Dialectology Section of the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language in Ljubljana, currently comprises around 720 records of local speeches, i.e. 884,000 index cards in the catalogue and 390 notebooks (and, additionally, 182 notebooks outside the SLA network). Most of the material was gathered by Tine Logar or by his students from Faculty of Arts of Ljubljana University, along with a number of other Slovenian linguists. Over the last ten years, the collection has been supplemented by records of 51 so-far-unexplored local speeches (mainly in neighbouring countries). All the archived material has been scanned and is therefore in electronic form; in addition to linguistic analysis for publication in this SLA this material is gradually being entered into the SlovarRed database.

In the second half of the 20th century many papers were written based on the analysis of the SLA dialect material by Tine Logar and Jakob Rigler. An introductory volume to the SLA was published in 1999 (Vodnik po zbirki narečnega gradiva za Slovenski lingvistični atlas (SLA) [Guide to the collection of dialect material for the Slovenian Linguistic Atlas (SLA)] by Francka Benedik, accompanied by the study written by Karmen Kenda-Jež). Different cartographic methods have been developed in parallel with the SLA project – from the first drafts for label maps and the first hand-drawn linguistic-symbol maps made in the 1950s, to modern spatial visualisations of dialectal phenomena based on the use of computer cartography tools, automated map-making and the interactive presentation of linguistic material.

The hand-drawn maps (many of them prepared by Tine Logar and Jakob Rigler for their research purposes), and, in particular, their participation in the OLA [Slavic Linguistic Atlas], gave Slovenian dialectologists valuable material and experience, enabling them to start publishing their own linguistic maps for the SLA at the end of the 1980s. The first lexical map was published in 1988 by Vera Smole and the first phonetic map in 1990 by Francka Benedik – both were hand-drawn and a map contained a network from 1984 which has remained unchanged until today. Around 50 linguistic maps have been published (mainly lexical but also some phonetic and morphological ones) in the past two decades; all of them were re-published in Ponovne objave člankov s kartami za Slovenski lingvistični atlas (do leta 2008) [Re-publication of papers with maps for the Slovenian Linguistic Atlas (up to 2008)] as an electronic publication on CD-ROM and on the internet (
), edited by Peter Weiss, Jožica Škofic and Karmen Kenda-Jež. Two monographs on the dual number in Slovenian dialects (one in Slovenian and other in English) were published in 2008 (Dvojina v slovenskih narečjih; The Dual in Slovene Dialects); these were written by Tjaša Jakop.

Up until 2000, all the maps for the SLA were hand-drawn using a printed base. The first maps using computer-automated map-making tools were published in 2001; these were compiled by Jožica Škofic, in cooperation with various (mostly external) collaborators. Zoran Stančič and Tomaž Podobnikar (both from the Spatial Information Centre (PIC) of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) produced an experimental digitalised map with Slovenian borders, rivers, larger cities and numbered data-points included in the SLA network, along with their coordinates. The Syncomp Company, in cooperation with the dialectologist Karmen Kenda-Jež, produced a set of basic symbols, SLSlovan, which could be used when mapping phonetic as well as lexical maps.

In 1996 Zoran Stančič was the first person to write about the possibility of using the GIS (Geographical Information System) to research Slovenian dialects which – in addition to improved and automated mapping – also pointed out the possibility of using the GIS for more complex analytic operations in dialectology and geolinguistics. In order to prepare an appropriate database for SLA and to start mapping and analysing the dialect material with the help of the GIS, it was necessary to draw up an appropriate set of letters and diacritical symbols for recording and for the subsequent linguistic analysis of this extremely diverse Slovenian dialect material; Peter Weiss therefore developed a transcription system which works in Microsoft Word for Windows and is based on the Unicode standard. The supplementary characters are in the ZRCola font, distributed in the private use area of this standard. Peter Weiss also prepared a set of symbols for mapping: in 2005, within the Unicode table, he designed the SIMBola font on the basis of symbols used for OLA [Slavonic Linguistic Atlas], ALE [European Linguistic Atlas] and other (mainly Slavonic) linguistic atlases.

The electronic blank map for the SLA (produced by Jerneja Fridl from Anton Melik Geographical Institute of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) is the map of the Slovenian linguistic territory (including the Slovenian language in neighbouring countries), with relief, rivers, national borders and the larger towns in a scale of 1 : 750,000 and 1 : 1,100,000. Peter Pehani from Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts has (with the help of the database of Geodetski zavod Slovenije [Geodetic Agency of Slovenia]) set geographical coordinates of data-points from the SLA network and position of the symbols on the map and in collaboration with Jožica Škofic and Vera Smole prepared the digitized map of the Slovenian dialects. In 2000 Tomaž Seliškar developed a special version of the SlovarRed database, which together with the Geographic Information System (GIS) enables not only the detailed input of dialect data and its analysis at different linguistic levels, but also various cartographic methods and various modes of displaying linguistic data on the map and also includes the record’s age, the structure of informants and scans of archived material (binders and card catalogues). This will enable an interactive display of mapped dialect material. In 2007 the first map has been made with the help of the SlovarRed database (by Jožica Škofic).

Published discussions and analyses of dialect material from the archives for the Slovenian linguistic atlas (SLA) show the continuous concern for professional (linguistic) publication of this important part of the Slovenian linguistic and cultural heritage, as well as the professional development of researchers participating in the project, and the development of the profession itself (i.e. the Slovenian dialectology and geolinguistics). The lack of finances and personnel is the cause for delayed publications of the SLA; nevertheless the current group of Ljubljana dialectologists managed to publish this basic project of the Slovenian linguistics after nearly 80 years since the idea of this atlas arose and after 65 years of collecting the dialect material with the SLA questionnaire. The first volume of SLA (SLA 1.1 – Atlas and SLA 1.2 – Commentaries) contains vocabulary of the semantic field of ‘man’ has been released in 2011 with the additional help of the applied project Besedje iz pomenskega polja »človek« v slovenskih narečjih – geolingvistična predstavitev (L6-9529-0618-07) [Vocabulary of the semantic field of ‘man’ in Slovenian dialects: A geolinguistic presentation], which was co-financed between 2007 and 2010 by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana (SAZU), and with the support of the Slovenian Book Agency (JAK).

In the years 2011 to 2015 the second volume SLA from semantic field of ‘farm’ (SLA 2.1 – Atlas and SLA 2.2 – Commentaries) with vocabulary for house and its parts, living area and working spaces, equipment, outbuildings and some of the domestic work (farm, household). Also this volume was published with the financial support for the applied project Materialna kulturna dediščina v slovenskih narečjih – geolingvistična predstavitev (L6-4042) [Material Cultural Heritage in Slovenian Dialects: A Geolinguistic Presentation], which was co-financed between 2011 and 2014 by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) and the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana (SAZU).