Department of Slovak Language
History of the Department of Slovak Language
Slovakist disciplines were introduced to Comenius University’s Faculty of Arts immediately after it was chartered, i.e. in the 1921/1922 academic year. The first professors to teach them were Dr. J. Hanuš, Dr. J. Škultéty, Dr. M. Weingart, Dr. A. Pražák and Dr. F. Wollman in the capacity of a language lector. In terms of organization, Slovak studies were included under the School of Slavic Studies, which was divided into four separate sections. One of them was the Section for Slovak Language and Literature, which was directed by Prof. J. Škultéty. However, he retired rather soon, on 1 October 1924. After his departure from the faculty, the section ceased to exist. Its place was taken up by the Section for the Czechoslovak Language with Prof. M. Weingart as its director. The faculty’s management was not at that time keen to strengthen the academic community oriented towards promoting the national language as it supported the idea of Czechoslovak national unity.
Smoothly running instruction was disrupted by a ban on employing Czech professors at the faculty in the academic year of 1938/1939. The list of lectures was cut by Prof. F. Ryšánek’s and Prof. V. Vážný’s lectures. In order to replace some of their courses, Prof. J. Stanislav and Assoc. Prof. Ľ. Novák had to expand their teaching activities. The School of Slovak Studies, which was established at the faculty at that time and which was directed by Prof. J. Stanislav, was in the same year divided into the Section for Slavic and Comparative Linguistics and Proto-Slavic led by Prof. J. Stanislav and the Section of the Slovak Language and the History of Slovak Literature, which was composed of Prof. Ľudovít Novák and Prof. Andrej Mráz. These teachers continued to read lectures and teach courses in the discipline even after the Second World War. In the summer term of 1946/1947, Prof. V. Vážný returned to the faculty. What further contributed to the reinforcement of the presence of Slovak studies at the faculty was the foundation of the Division of Philological Sciences in the winter term of 1948/1949. It had a separate Section of General Linguistics, which was led by the substitute Assoc. Prof. J. Ružička.
In 1950 the original School of Slavic Studies transformed itself into the Department of Slovak Language and Literature with A. Mráz at its head. After his death, the post was assumed by Prof. E. Pauliny, who led the department until 1966. Starting in 1951, the Department of Slovak Language and Literature also provided instruction and training for students of librarianship. Within organizational changes in 1959, the Faculty of Arts acquired departments of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Teachers’ College (established in 1953 and closed down in 1959). It was also the time when M. Darovec joined the department.
In 1964 an independent Department of Slavic and Indo-European Studies, or today’s Department of Slavic Studies, separated from the Department of Slovak Language and Literature. In 1966 the original Department of Slovak Language, Slovak Literature and Literary Science was divided into two independent departments – the Department of Slovak Language and the Department of Slovak Literature and Literary Science. In this period increasingly more attention was paid to the teaching of Slovak as a foreign language (J. Prokop and J. Bartoš).
Since 1966, the Department of Slovak Language has been headed by Prof. E. Pauliny (1966-1977), Prof. P. Ondrus (1977-1980), Assoc. Prof. E. Bajzíková (1980-1989), Prof. J. Mistrík (1989-1990), Assoc. Prof. J. Mlacek (1990-1997, appointed professor in 1995), Prof. J. Dolník (1997-2007) and Assoc. Prof. O. Orgoňová (since 2007).
Starting in 1961, the department organized weeks of the Slovak language, literature and culture for foreign participants in the Summer School of Slavic Studies, which took place in Prague every year. These events gradually evolved into an independent course in the Slovak language and culture under the title of Studia Academica Slovaca. In 1959-1974, instruction in the Slovak language for foreigners and language training for foreign applicants to universities in Slovakia were provided by the then Bratislava subsidiary of the University of 17 November in Prague, which also offered translation and interpreting programmes in foreign languages. Since the subsidiary was closed down, i.e. since the 1974/1975 academic year, the Department of Slovak Language has also taught basic courses in Slovak studies for students of translation and interpreting programmes.