Higlights February 2008

Slovenes and Culture: 2008 Marked by Trubar, Languages and Intercultural Dialogue

The fact that the 500th anniversary of Trubar’s birth occurs in the year 2008, which has been proclaimed International Year of Languages by UNESCO and European Year of Intercultural Dialogue by the EU, is a truly marvellous coincidence.

Protecting languages and promoting literacy are one of the fundamental pillars of cultural diversity. Languages are indeed essential to the identity of groups and individuals. Half of the 7000 world’s languages are in danger of extinction and it’s largely owing to Primož Trubar that this is not the case of Slovene language.

Trubar was the consolidator of the Slovene language as he wrote and published the first Slovene books "Catechismus" and "Abecedarium" more than 450 years ago. He created an instrument of expression and communication that connected Slovenians in time and place regardless of their differences. However, in the next decades other writers and poets left an indelible mark: Anton Tomaž Linhart, Valentin Vodnik, France Prešeren, Josip Jurčič, Ivan Cankar and Srečko Kosovel. Nowadays, Tomaž Šalamun, Drago Jančar and Slavoj Žižek are among the most prolific and famous contemporary Slovene authors, well known also abroad.

The Minister of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Vasko Simoniti

Dr Vasko Simoniti was born on 23rd March 1951 in Ljubljana. He holds a doctorate in history and is Professor of Mediaeval History at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana and author of numerous scientific and expert works in the area of early modern history.

According to Vasko Simoniti, it was Slovene culture, especially Slovene language, which preserved our national identity during the centuries, when we did not have our economy, sports or politics as distinctive marks. He said that cultural consciousness is still alive and very strong especially in foreign countries. Minister Simoniti thinks that everyone who promotes Slovene culture outside borders deserves recognition and he regrets the fact that too many times we are not paying enough attention them because of our ignorance and superficiality.

Jacqueline Widmar Stewart

Jacqueline Widmar Stewart, brilliant lawyer and writer, is a descendant of Slovenes who went to United States of America at the turn of the 20th century. After having studied in different parts of the USA, Greece, Germany and Slovenia, she has obtained also a Bachelor of Arts degree in German and French as well as Masters degree in French literature and Doctor of Laws degree. In the last years writing has become her great passion. Her first book, "The Glaciers’ Treasure Trove", covers the five parks along the southern shores of Lake Michigan from geological, historical and ethnological point of view. This is the place she likes particularly because she spent her childhood there. During this work she realized that there are some similarities between Lake Michigan and Slovenia and decided to dedicate her second book to her grandparents’ homeland.

Evgen Bavčar – The Blind Photographer

Evgen Bavčar is an art photographer, philosopher, essayist, publicist and guest professor at many European and American universities and he is completely blind. He was born in 1946 in Lokavec, a small village near Ajdovščina and he lost his eyesight before he was twelve in two consecutive accidents. He is settled in Paris since 1972. He decided to move there because of Louis Braillle, the inventor of braille, a world-wide system used by blind people for reading and writing. According to Bavčar, photography expresses hope, that maybe we are able to stop the time, to preserve our childhood, youth on the other inaccessible side of the objective.

In 2004 he was conferred an award for his creative work and his contribution to Slovene culture from then president Drnovšek.

Podium for Petra Majdič and Andrej Jerman

Petra Majdič won the women’s World Cup classical sprint cross-country skiing final in Canmore, Canada. Moreover, she was fifth in freestyle race, which is her best result in this discipline so far.

Slovenia’s best skier of the season Andrej Jerman finished third at the downhill event in France’s Chamonix. This was the first podium of the season for him. In the overall standings in downhill Jerman is currently fifth.

Petra Prelec 

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