Monday, October 12, 2009

357/2009

To be quite honest, I did not want to address the global snafu that is the new Slovak "Official Language Act" ("Zákon o štátnom jazyku" 357/2009). First, Slovak politics disgusts me. There is no left - the main ruling party may talk the talk, but their populist/nationalist agenda sure ain't fooling me; the nationalists are just what the name says and the occasional comic relief they provide isn't worth the trouble; the party of pater patriae is almost out of the races and not a moment too soon and don't you get me started about the right - the choice is either Christian Democrats who are neither with a post-fascist touch, or three teeny-tiny parties with way too much media presence who worship the Golden Calf of the Invisible Hand, hate Muslims, gays and the EU and bow to the White House - unless, of course, its current occupant is a Democrat. (To my readers in the US - imagine you have three Republican parties led by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan.) And so I, a devout western-civilization-hating muslim-appeasing gay-abortionist-leftie-peacenik-hippie, always end up voting for the wishy-washy center right party and don't want to have anything to do with the whole circus for the next four years.
Second reason I didn't really want to weigh in on the language law because this involves playing Hungarians and Slovaks against each other. I never know on which side of the battlefield to park my bilingual bicultural doesn't-really-belong-anywhere fat ass, especially when I see that it's not just the Slovak nationalists stoking the fires of fear and hatred. Standing on the sidelines and cussing both teams out just doesn't strike me as constructive, nor is it good for my health.
But as you might expect, I did watch the whole thing unfold and I kept record of the important developments as well as the many reactions to them, especially on LG Policy List. And so when this morning I read first John Cowan's email and then languagehat's latest post (Gmail opens a lot faster than my RSS reader), I thought what the hell, let's do this. So here are my comments on István Deák's blogpost and the Official Language Act 357/2009 with special regard to the six nightmare scenarios outlined by Mr. Deák's friends at HHRF. Please remember all I said above and know that in the following, I do not take anybody's side but my own.
To employ my favorite metric (the George Carlin Scale of Stupid), Mr. Deák is either stupid or full of shit. If the fact that he doesn't even cite the law isn't enough to make your BS indicators glow red, then consider that, as his commentors have pointed out, he doesn't even understand the political landscape of Slovakia. It's the (at least nominally) left-wing and nationalist/populist parties that are behind this piece of legislation. Some right-wing parties - like the aforementioned Christian Democrats - may have nationalist/fascist skeletons in their own closets, but in general, the right as a whole cooperates with the Hungarian parties and has included them in their last two coalition governments (Dzurinda’s cabinets of 1998-2002 and 2002-2006).
So back to facts and keep in mind, IANAL: we are talking about Act no. 357/2009, the "Official Language Act" (henceforth: OLA 357/2009). Contrary to popular opinion, this is not the first such act to be passed by the parliament, nor is it the first one to mandate fines. I even put together a historical overview, but alas, it's at home and I'm at work. All I can tell you now is that OLA 357/2009 is an updated and amended version of the original OLA 270/1995. That one also included a section on fines, but that particular section was abolished with the adoption of the "Use of Minority Languages Act" (UMLA) 184/1999 on September 1st, 1999.
The currenct Act consists of 15 sections, but the last four are parliamentary legal mumbo-jumbo, so that leaves us with 11. Section one informs us that Slovak is the official language in Slovakia (1.1), mandates that it be given preference over other languages spoken in Slovakia (1.2), notes that this act does not have anything to say about liturgical languages (1.3), and most importantly, reminds everybody that there's still the "Use of Minority Languages Act" 184/1999 which governs the use of those languages and protects their speakers' rights to use them. Which is another reason I feel justified describing Mr. Deák as either stupid of full of shit. Nothing else can explain the monumental stupidity of his introductory statement:

On September 1, the Slovak parliament made it largely illegal for its citizens to use any language other than Slovak.

Moving along to Section 2, we find that it's full of your standard horseshit about how the official language needs to be protected and codified with some added blah-blah about language culture (the holy grail of all Slovak prescriptivists) and the need to improve it. 2.4 explicitly forbids any interference with the codified form of the Slovak language that is in violation of its rules. Buggered if I know what that means, more on that perhaps later.
Section 3 covers the use of Slovak in official interactions (the original term is "úradný styk", the translation is that used by the EU). To sum up: all government business, including that of local and regional government, is to be conducted in Slovak, all laws, regulations, government records and local records are to be kept in Slovak. 3.1, however, once again points out that nothing in this section limits the use of minority languages which is governed by the aforementioned UMLA 184/1999. This brings us to HHRF’s nightmare scenario no. 2: „a civil servant discussing job opportunities with an unemployed Roma in Romany”. Well, that situation is governed by OLA 357/2009, which in turn insists that UMLA 184/1999 applies. Section 7 of UMLA permits civil servants to use the minority language under conditions laid out by UMLA and other legislation. And as far as I can tell – IANAL times infinity – nothing in OLA 357/2009 expressly forbids a civil servant from using a minority language when speaking to a client – in fact, such a provision would violate a number of laws and EU accords. So I call bullshit. Same goes for nightmare scenario no. 4 – “a conductor addressing a passenger in Hungarian on a train from Slovakia to Hungary”. Since a train conductor is not a government representative in any sense of the word, nor is his job official government business, provisions of subsection 3.1 simply do not apply to him or her.
3.2 governs the use of Slovak by employees of state postal and telecommunication bodies, members of armed forces and firemen, all of whom must only use Slovak in official interactions. Note that 3.2 speaks of "official interactions" ("úradný styk"), while section 6, which specifically governs the use of Slovak in the armed forces and fire brigades and mandates the use of Slovak, speaks of communication during “execution of their duties” (“služobný styk“). While the former is generally taken to mean predominantly written communication, the latter is taken to mean what the English translation says. So yes, the law mandates that firemen only speak Slovak when executing their duties (nightmare scenario no. 1), which might involve rescuing a speaker of Hungarian from a burning building. But as for the fines for answering their calls for help in a language other than Slovak, we’ll get to that later.
Somewhat OT, but it’s funny: section 3, subsection 5 introduces a hilarious term “jazyk spĺňajúci požiadavku základnej zrozumiteľnosti z hľadiska štátneho jazyka“ = „a language fulfilling the requirement of basic intelligibility with regard to the official language”. Guess what they mean.
Section 3a addresses the old question of geographical names by referring to specific legislation on the subject.
Section 4 governs the use of Slovak in education. Once again it notes that there is a separate set of laws governing schools where languages other than Slovak are the main medium of instruction and the schoolbooks they use. Chief among them is the “Education Act” (EA) 245/2008, especially section 12 which governs not only schools where minority languages are the main medium of instruction, but also the so-called bilingual education, i.e. schools where the majority of subjects is taught in English, German, Spanish or French (I think that’s it). Here’s probably where HHRF’s nightmare scenario no. 3 – “a German book club discussing a book in German without first introducing it in Slovak” – comes in. A book club set up by private citizens is naturally off limits, so school is the only other scenario where provisions of OLA would apply I can think of. Pursuant to EA section 12.6, classes can be conducted in any minority language or a foreign language. So once again, bullshit.
As for minority languages, not much of a change here except, if I remember correctly, under the new Act, school administrations have to keep two sets of records – one in Slovak, the other one in the minority language.
Section 5 governs miscellaneous aspects of the law. 1.1 covers the mandatory use of Slovak in the broadcast media and lists exceptions. 5.1 e), for example, specifically exempts all types of music pieces and performances with original lyrics, 5.1 f) exempts radio productions in minority languages broadcast by Slovak state radio, 5.6 exempts various cultural events (although fliers and such must still include a Slovak version of the text). As for HHRF's nightmare scenario no. 5 – "a radio station broadcasting in English without Slovak translation" – that only counts as one half of one piece of bullshit. Technically it is possible to fine that, but I cannot imagine a situation where this would be necessary. First of all, this provision only applies to radio stations licensed in Slovakia - or does anybody think that it is the intent of the Parliament to go around and fine every Austrian, Hungarian, Polish and Ukrainian radio stations that can be picked up here, not to mention all the short wave stations? And secondly, the Act provides exceptions for all reasonably thinkable instances of radio broadcasting in languages other than Slovak, including - but not limited to - broadcasting in minority languages, international broadcasting and language courses. As far as anything else is concerned, I don't really see why anyone would put on a broadcast in English and not provide a translation.
Subsection 5.7 governs inscriptions on memorials, monuments and memorial tablets ("... pamätníkoch, pomníkoch a pamätných tabuliach ...") – all of which refers to objects which are a part of the public sphere and which are in the care of the state or local authorities. Contrary to HHRF’s nightmare scenario no. 6, it doesn't say anything whatsoever about private tombstones or grave markers (“náhrobný kameň“ in Slovak). I hate to repeat myself, but – bullshit.
We’ve covered section 6, so on to section 7 which covers the use of Slovak in legal proceedings. Not much to report, except that subsection 7.2 confirms that the rights of speakers of minority languages in this respect shall not be infringed. How that stacks up against Mr. Deák's introductory remark, you can judge that for yourself.
Section 8 is another miscellanea section (which goes to show how much thought our MPs put into this). Subsection 8.1 mandates that all consumer information be in Slovak, subsection 8.2 allows for the parallel use of languages other than Slovak in written documentation relating to labor relations and alike, subsection 8.3 covers technical documentation and specifications as well as statutes and charters of political parties and other associations, subsection 8.4 deals with healthcare providers who are allowed to, but not obligated to, speak any language to their patients and clients and 8.5 mandates that only contracts in Slovak will be considered valid for the purposes of legal proceedings. Subsection 8.6 is the one that has attracted the most attention so far. It mandates that all public notices, signs, announcements, inscriptions and alike must be written in Slovak. Any text in a second language must be identical in meaning to the Slovak one and follow it. As you can imagine, these provisions have caused a lot of outrage among business owners, largely due to the fact that this is where they expect the fines to come in.
Which brings us to to sections 9 and 9a - enforcement of the provisions of the Act and fines. As with the previous version of this Act, two types of authorities are charged with enforcing these rules: authorities regulating advertising and the Broadcasting Comission for all advertising and all broadcast media and the Ministry of Culture for everything else. Contrary to popular belief, there will be no language police going around fining people for speaking anything else than Slovak, just like there was none back before September 1st, 1999 when UMLA abolished the fines. Mind you, the asshole authors of OLA 357/2009 make no qualms about the fact that this is precisely what they're trying to undo. But just like back then, this mind bogglingly stupid provision is not meant to penalize private and public use of languages other than Slovak. Section 9a, subsection 1 which governs the application of fines explicitly states that only government bodies, legal persons and self-employed natural persons (whom the unofficial translation calls "natural persons entrepreneurs", ugh) can be fined.
In other words, I, bulbul teh private person, cannot be fined for writing this in English or any other language of my choosing, nor can I be fined for cussing in Finnish, wearing one of those Thinkgeek "I'm in ur X Y-ing ur Z" t-shirts with Chinese characters in the blank spaces or writing بلبل on my mailbox (true story, all of that). I, bulbul teh self-employed natural person, IČO 37643967/DIČ likehellImtellingyou, could be fined for, say, writing بلبل on the sign of my office building, especially if I placed it above the Slovak equivalent of my nom de plume or even ignored to provided the translation. So there goes the nightmare scenario no. 1.
Mind you, I still think sections 9 and 9a are fucking stupid, just like the whole Act and the whole fucking government and especially that dumbfuck Minister of Culture (I might get to that later). But that doesn't excuse Mr. Deák from bullshitting the good readers of the NYR blog nor HHRF from bullshitting everybody else.

UPDATE: As chance would have it, George Pataki visited Slovakia today and weighed in on the controversy. Check out the video.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

snowclone

X is the new Y as seen in the vanity card of Monday's episode of "The Big Bang Theory":

CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #260

FASHION TRENDS

Dead is the new unambiguous. Bipolar is the new undecided. Heavily armed is the new born again. Bald is the new head... and the new crotch. Hairy is the new face. Sheepishly admitting to having an STD is the new flirting. Purell is the new face of fear. Finding the time that's right for you is the new impotence. The smiley-face emoticon is the new "sincerely yours." Smoking is the new outdoorsy lifestyle. Looking forward to insanely expensive private schooling, thousand dollar a week nannies and soccer is the new yuppie birth control. Misinformed is the new patriotic. Veganism is the new "tastes like chicken." Serotonin uptake inhibiting is the new crowd control. Texting is the new talking. Talking is the new singing. Singing is the new hubris. Gay marriage is the new "be careful what you wish for." And finally, and only because I really need this to catch on, fifty-seven years old is the new forty-five.

I, for one, hope thirty is the new twenty.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

cossacks

Most of you probably know this painting by Ilya Repin and the (most likely apocryphal) story behind it: the Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV wrote a letter to the Zaporozhian Cossacks in which he commanded them to cease and desist any and all attacks on his army and territory and furthermore to submit to his rule. Uncharacteristically, the cossacks responded with a letter of their own. Quite characteristically, the letter is filled with profanities and denigrating comments on the Sultan, his character, combat abilities and personal hygiene and the only thing missing is an obligatory reference to his mother.
Some time ago, I stumbled upon a paper (archived PDF) by Victor Friedman of University of Chicago where he analyzes the textual history of the legend and the linguistic peculiarities of its most popular recension. Now that it's cited on Wikipedia, it's too late for me to brag about the discovery, so just go and read the whole thing. And after you do, you might want to know this: it turns out that the incident was recreated for the 2009 Russian movie "Тарас Бульба". Watching the YouTube clip of the scene in question, you will note that while the imagery is quite faithful to Repin's painting, the language is not what you would expect from a bunch of Ukrainian cossacks. For one, the movie version replaces the Arabic/Turkish loan шайтан by чёрт and omits the reference to Devil's excrements the Sultan's army is allegedly in the habit of consuming ("... чорт сере/викидае, а твое військо пожирае..."). But most importantly, the language is - with some exceptions - quite obviously Modern Russian: Russian такой instead of Ukrainian такий, чёртово [t͡ʃortava] instead of чорта [t͡ʃorta], самого pronounced as [samova] instead of [samoho], ёжа (hedgehog-ACC) instead of їжака and so on. Even though, as Friedman notes, the language of the letter is not exactly pure Ukrainian, but rather a "Late East South South East Slavic" dialect heavily influenced by Russian, it still somewhat grinds my ears to hear sons of the steppe speak Russian. Ah well, it's still a pretty cool scene.

Friday, September 11, 2009

german

On Monday at Steiner's, I picked up a biography of Ján Stanislav, one of the greatest Slovak linguists of the 20th century. When I finally got to reading it earlier today, I stumbled across an anecdote from Stanislav's student years. It perfectly illustrates languagehat's observations on the influence of German learning on Russian intelectual history and shows that's it's not just the Russians who owe German scholars a great deal:

Keď raz študent povedal Milošovi Weingartovi, že nevie dobre po nemecky - dostal nemeckú knihu do referátu - profesor povedal: "Němčina jest najdůležitejší [sic] slovanský jazyk" a boli sme odzbrojení ...

When on one occasion, one of the students told Miloš Weingart that his German wasn't so good - he had just been assigned a book in German - the professor said: "German is the most important Slavic language" and there was no more excuse for us ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

glagolitic

(Via SME via TASR) The August 12th edition of Népszabadság reports an incredible find: a shard of pottery (most likely a fragment of a bottle or a jug) with Glagolitic letters was found near Zalavár (aka Blatnohrad). According to Miklós Béla Szöke who is charge of the excavations, the letters iže and onъ (plus a cross) can clearly be read on the shard - but don't take his word for it, see for yourselves (source).
Even considering the history of the place (Pribina's and Koceľ's stronghold, reportedly one of the stops on Cyril and Method's way to Moravia and the site of one of the schools founded by the brothers), I'm filing this one under 'too good to be true.' Watch this space for more.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rome

Unless I crumble from all the work dropped on me this morning, I'll be flying to Rome later this afternoon to attend the 2009 SBL International Meeting. I'll be presenting a paper which has very little to do with linguistics, so, um, you know, here it is (UPDATED) and here's the handout (UPDATED), just in case anybody is interested. It's all very beta, so comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

shm-

Damned if I know how, but earlier today, I ended up at the Wikipedia entry dedicated to the shm-reduplication and I was glad to see that it had been expanded considerably since the last time I checked it out. Among other things, the section on origin now cites a paper by Ghil'ad Zuckermann who points out a similar phenomenon in Turkish, the prefix m-, which conveys the meaning of "x and similar things". And that's when it hit me: "ketáb-metáb"! Jiří Osvald's Teheránská hovorová perština (Colloquial Persian of Tehran), one of the thin yet excellent language textbooks published in the 1960s through 1980s by Nový Orient, also briefly mentions this very phenomenon. I'm reproducing the chapter in question in full (note the typically tehruni "nīss" instead of "nīst"):

§ 106 - Ketáb metáb
Opakováním slova se změnou počáteční souhlásky na m se vyjadřuje "něco takového, podobného."
Ketáb metáb nadárín? - Nemáte něco na čtení? (knížku nebo něco takového)
Púl múl mohem níss. - Nejedná se o peníze.


§ 106 - Ketāb metāb
Repeating a word while changing the initial consonant to m expresses the notion of "something like that, something similar."
Ketāb metāb nadārīn? - Wouldn't you happen to have something to read? (a book or something like that)
Pūl mūl mohem nīss. - It's not about money.

So there. Any guess as to which was first, Persian or Turkish?

UPDATE: In the comments below, Etienne provides some more examples from Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages (thx m8!). I'll just add two Google books hits, the first of which addresses the Dravidian part and the second one provides an extensive treatment of the shm- reduplication in Yiddish and English and similar echo phenomena in languages from Slavic through Turkic all the way to South Asia. Looks like someone has already written that thesis and it's a pretty cool one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

reduplication

I don't know how well your average US movie trailer represents spoken North American English, but I found it rather striking that this particular trailer contained not one, but two examples of contrastive focus reduplication in the space of 40 seconds. The first one is a classic:

00:43-00:46
- You like her?
- Yes.
- You LIKE-HER-like-her?

It's the second one, spoken by the lovely and talented Zooey Deschanel, that stands out:

01:20-01:22
- I got the baby.
- THE-BABY-the-baby?

According to Ghomeshi et al. referenced in the LanguageLog post above (preprint, section 3.4, p. 27), one of the constraints on contrastive reduplication (CR) is

(57) a. The scope of CR is either X0 or XPmin.

So if I got this right, in case of noun phrases, only minimal noun phrases (i.e. bare noun/pronoun) can be reduplicated and thus reduplication of a NP -> D N such as the one above should be impossible. And indeed, as Ghomeshi et al. elaborate:

Condition (57a) is violated in *A-LINGUIST-a linguist (cf. (47)): although the determiner is a grammatical morpheme, it is outside of NPmin, so it cannot be within the scope of CR.

The examples they refer to are

(47) a. Do you want [tu:] or WANT [tu:]-want [tu:]?
b. ? Do you wanna or WANNA-wanna?

(48) a. I wouldn’t DATE–date a linguist.
b. * I wouldn’t DATE-A–date-a linguist

and

(49) * I wouldn't date [CG A-LINGUIST]-[a linguist]

all from section 3.3 which deals with the optionality of some types of complements with some types of heads (e.g. pronouns or prepositions for verbs, PPs for adjectives). In comments to (47), they wonder if this optionality can be explained phonologically, i.e. those complements are considered clitics and they can, but don't have to be, included in CR. Long story short, citing Hayes' "clitic group" (CG in (49) - "a prosodic word plus the clitics to its right or left"), Ghomeshi et al. dismiss the idea of clitics being involved in CR, noting that (emphasis mine)

So in (48), date and a do not form a copyable clitic group, since a must belong to the same clitic group as linguist. However, Hayes’ definition of clitic group includes clitics on the left as well as the right, and these never reduplicate11.

Hence the asterisk preceding (49) - whatever the phonological considerations in CR, clitics to the left of the prosodic word (such as determiners in NPs) are never a part of the duplicated phrase. Footnote 11 explains that the only exception to that rule are lexicalized proper names (The Hague) and gives the following example:

The casino isn't in THE-PAS-The-Pas, but in Opaskwayak.
(The reserve of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation includes land that is in the northern Manitoba town of The Pas, but not legally part of it.)

This example, however, does not appear in Kevin Russell's corpus and, more importantly, it doesn't explain Ms. Deschanel's reduplication.

Now I'm way in over my head here, so my first stupid question is whether the fact that "THE-BABY-the-baby" doesn't appear in a complete sentence is to any extent relevant. Judging by the examples of same type given by Ghomeshi et al. (e.g. 7, 8, 10, 11, 17), I don't think so, but what do I know. The bottom line seems to be that we have a real-life example of reduplication of a NP -> D N, something Ghomeshi et al. claim is not possible. Would you agree or did I miss something?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Now that the first working week of the new year is over, I think it is safe to say that Slovakia's transition to the new currency is going very well. I was a little late on board, making my first official euro purchase on Thursday (shoelaces, € 0.83) and making the first ATM withdrawal on Friday (€ 40), but even though I am arithmetically challenged, so far so good.

Unlike other nations - such as Malta - we were fortunate enough to avoid major linguistic issues associated with the adoption of the euro, but there are still some minor changes to consider. I, for one, rejoice at the thought of never having to decide again whether I should translate "slovenská koruna" as "Slovak crown" (which seems to have been the preferred form) or "Slovak koruna" (which sounds better to me). But that's just a minor point. As some, including this report in Pravda and this one in SME (originally by the Czech press agency ČTK), have pointed out, the real story is the changes which euro will mean for the slang terms for amounts, coins and banknotes:

desiatka/desík/desina = 10 (note the typical Bratislava suffix -ina normally used in standard Slovak to form fractions)
dvacka = 20 (but not dvacina)
pajdík = 50 (another typical Bratislava / Western Slovak formation)
kilo = 100
pětikilo = 500
liter = 1000
melón = 1 000 000 (melón also meaning, of course, "melon", especially "water melon")

But just what kind of changes should we expect? According to the Pravda editorial,

Slangové označenia peňazí ako desík, kilo, liter či melón odídu s korunou do zabudnutia. ... Liter stratí s eurom zmysel úplne. Tisíceurová bankovka totiž neexistuje, najvyššie papierové euro má hodnotu 500.

Slang terms designating money like desík, kilo, liter or melón will become obsolete. With the adoption of the euro, liter will vanish completely. There is no € 1000 note, the highest demonination is € 500.

Really? Does that mean that we will no longer count money in tens, hundreds, thousands or millions? I guess it would be absolutely futile to try to explain to a journalist that one single word can be used for an object, like a banknote, as well as a concept, like an amount. Martin Považaj, a linguist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences, did try to do so when talking to ČTK with questionable results:

"Je však možné, že niektoré z týchto slov zostanú, ale nadobudnú novú významovú náplň, to znamená, že číselná hodnota skrývajúca sa za týmito slovami zostane, ale bude sa už vzťahovať na eurá[.]"

"It is possible that some of these words will stay with us, but will acquire a new meaning, that is the numerical value behind the words will remain, but will refer to amounts in euro."

So according to Dr. Považaj, it is merely possible that with a change in extralinguistic reality, the language will follow suit. Whereas according to anybody else with a bit of understanding of language, it is, how should I put it, pretty fucking certain.
And then the author of the report helpfully adds:

Znamenalo by to, že tieto výrazy by vyjadrovali 30-krát väčšiu hodnotu, kilo by tak už napríklad nebolo 100 Sk (3,32 eura), ale sto eur (3013 Sk).

This would mean that these terms would be used for amounts 30 times higher that before, thus kilo would not mean 100 Sk (3.32 euro), but hundred euro (3013 Sk).

The fact that this needs to be spelled out astonishes me. I'm quite certain that this - together with Dr. Považaj's explanation above - is a statement to the view of Slovak as something rigid and immutable so prevalent in our society. If you want another example, just try the very next paragraph:

Slová ako päťeurovka alebo stoeurovka sa doteraz do slovníkov slovenského jazyka nedostali, podľa jazykovedcov sú však spisovné a využívajú sa v hovorovej neoficiálnej komunikácii.

Words like päťeurovka (5 € note) or stoeurovka (100 € note) have not yet been included in dictionaries of Slovak, but according to the linguists, these are standard terms which are used in spoken unofficial communication.

Two perfectly legit compounds made from two perfectly normal (and standard) words based on a long-used and perfectly standard terms (päťkorunáčka and stokorunáčka) and yet people still feel the need to ask the official body to please please pretty please validate their own words. This makes me glad we haven't had to deal with any serious linguistic issues. Although the following clusterfuck could have been pretty funny to watch...

And finally, there is the issue of the new slang term for euro. According to Mira Nábělková, a Czech linguist quoted by the SME/ČTK piece, terms like jurko, jurášky, juráše and juroše have been recorded on the internet, obviously combining the English pronunciation with Slovak suffixes. I can see why jurko (note the diminutive suffix -ko) would work, but since it happens to be the diminutive form of the name Juraj, I don't think it's very likely. As for jurášky, I only found one single occurrence, and that one insists it's a pronunciation used by speakers of English. There were a few ghits on juráše, but all of those were from websites in Czech and as for juroše, that one only appears in variations of this ČTK report. And to add one final insult, Dr. Nábělková immediately connects these imaginary slang terms for euro with Juraj Jánošík, i.e. the most stereotypical stereotype in the history of Slovak stereotypes. Even her other examples, the diminutives eurko (neuter), eurík (masculine) and eurka (feminine) seem fishy. A brief Google search quickly revealed that the feminine form is nothing of the kind, but rather Nominative plural of the neuter form (UPDATE: but only when written without diacritics, the proper plural form is eurká). Examples (the first three ghits):

1. ... na ktore mimochodom sa eurka uz vyfasovali ... (which, by the way, they already got euros for)
2. ... a nosi eurka za kazdy mliecny zubok ... (who brings euros for every milk tooth)
3. ... a ked majitelom Slovanu dojdu eurka ... (and when the proprietors of Slovan run out of euros)

From the final list of terms collected on the internet, eurčeky is another nonce formation, but euráče, euráky, euráčiky (another diminutive) and - much less common - euroše are in actual use with euráče being the most common, at least according to raw ghits (2460 vs. 116, 224 and 109). I guess only time will tell which one(s) will be left standing. But if you want to come back in a few months and find out, be sure not to rely on Pravda, SME or ČTK.