Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

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Gooner1
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Postby Gooner1 » 28 Feb 2018 17:45

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Gooner,

Unfortunately, theory and practice were apparently rather different:

"The Hungarian Nationalities Law (1868) guaranteed that all citizens of the Kingdom of Hungary (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), whatever their nationality, constituted politically "a single nation, the indivisible, unitary Hungarian nation", and there could be no differentiation between them except in respect of the official usage of the current languages and then only insofar as necessitated by practical considerations. In spite of the law, the use of minority languages was banished almost entirely from administration and even justice. Defiance of, or appeals to, the Nationalities Law met with derision or abuse. The Hungarian language was over represented in the primary schools and almost all secondary education was in Hungarian."


Hi Sid,

Yes, that was in the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen, they took a different approach than the Imperial lands.
Playing devils advocate a bit, but weren't the Hungarians just doing what every other nation was attempting at the time - standardising on one official language? In France there were only French schools, in Italy, Italian schools in Germany, German schools etc.
Austria was the odd-one out, and wasn't that a mistake? Wouldn't it have been better if Austria had imposed German as the standard language across the Empire, opening up the great wealth of that language to the peoples rather than them being stuck sharing a language with at most a few millions of fellow speakers?

You post regarding the fact that the only way to get on in the professions or state service was to speak either German or Hungarian, "Should jolly well hope so as well!"
So, you consider it right that any monoglot Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Pole, Croat, Slovene, Bosnian or Romanian should effectively be debarred from entering the professions or state service in Austria-Hungary?


Of course it's fair enough. Since when has it been an entitlement to join the professions or state service? In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua francas. Not being multilingual would for the Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Pole, Croat, Slovene, Bosnian or Romanian also prove a handicap in business, in academia, in the arts. Even a humble job on the railways would consign you to second choice.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Postby Sid Guttridge » 04 Mar 2018 16:55

Hi Gooner,

Yup, the Hungarians were just trying to do what other dominant nations were trying to do at the time - extinguish minority identity on the territory they controlled.

However, they were not, as you suggest, just trying to standardize a language like the French, or Italians. They weren't trying to standardize different sorts of Hungarian. They were trying to homogenize their state by gradually extinguishing the use of rival languages on their territory, like the contemporary Germans in Poland or Russians almost anywhere under their control outside Russia itself. Indeed, between the wars the Romanians, Serbs and Slovaks began to use the same tactic on their Hungarian minorities.

You say, "In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua franca." It is, if they cannot get qualifications or professional progression at all with only their native tongue.

Furthermore, Hungarian was not the "lingua franca". It was the Hungarian aim to make it so by restricting professional advancement and higher education to Hungarian-speakers. If the language of adminstration, commerce, military and urban life could be made exclusively Hungarian, then Romanian, Slovak, etc., etc., would be restricted to ill-organized, largely illiterate peasantries and Hungarian would first become the lingua franca, and then ultimately the universal language.

Cheers,

Sid.

Gooner1
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Joined: 06 Jan 2006 12:24
Location: London

Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Postby Gooner1 » 06 Mar 2018 16:20

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Gooner,

Yup, the Hungarians were just trying to do what other dominant nations were trying to do at the time - extinguish minority identity on the territory they controlled.

However, they were not, as you suggest, just trying to standardize a language like the French, or Italians. They weren't trying to standardize different sorts of Hungarian. They were trying to homogenize their state by gradually extinguishing the use of rival languages on their territory, like the contemporary Germans in Poland or Russians almost anywhere under their control outside Russia itself. Indeed, between the wars the Romanians, Serbs and Slovaks began to use the same tactic on their Hungarian minorities.


Hi Sid,
the French suppressed Spanish, Flemish, German and Italian speakers in their time too. Pretty normal behaviour.


You say, "In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua franca." It is, if they cannot get qualifications or professional progression at all with only their native tongue.


Why should they be able to progress? Its not as someone only speaking Welsh or Gaelic would stand much chance of getting a job in the civil service or the professions in Britain. Ignorance shouldn't be a virtue.

Furthermore, Hungarian was not the "lingua franca". It was the Hungarian aim to make it so by restricting professional advancement and higher education to Hungarian-speakers. If the language of adminstration, commerce, military and urban life could be made exclusively Hungarian, then Romanian, Slovak, etc., etc., would be restricted to ill-organized, largely illiterate peasantries and Hungarian would first become the lingua franca, and then ultimately the universal language.


Hungarian and German were the lingua francas. What language(s) would Romanian speakers and Polish speakers most likely converse in? Or Ruthenians and Italians? As you say because Hungarian had a virtual monopoly on high school education in Transleithania it follows that anyone educated would know Hungarian. Whilst the Imperial lands lacked these language laws it seems unlikely that anyone educated beyong the primary level wouldn't know German.

Sid Guttridge
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Posts: 5611
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Postby Sid Guttridge » 06 Mar 2018 18:46

Hi Gooner,

I am very surprised you ask why speakers of only minority languages should be allowed to progress in the professions. Did you actually mean this, or am I missing your true intent? Please clarify.

Today there would be no problem for Welsh or Gaelic speakers getting a job in the civil service or the professions. Such diversity is actively encouraged.

Unfortunately, historically it was not. I don't think there are any monoglot Scots Gaelic speakers left. Cornish has entirely disappeared as a functional means of communication. Only Welsh remains pretty robust, with several hundred thousand primary speakers. However, this is not just a British issue. Irish Gaelic has continued to retreat as a primary language, even after Irish independence and a century of state support.

No, Hungarian wasn't the lingua franca. It was the language of central government. It was the Hungarian intention to make it the local lingua franca by ensuring that all government, commercial, military and professional business was conducted in it at the Hungarian-dominated end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Cheers,

Sid.


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