Why Study Slovene with the KU Slavic Department?

Languages in the Slavic Department

Why Study Slovene?

Slovene is spoken by approximately two million people in the Republic of Slovenia and neighboring territories in Italy, Austria, and Hungary. Large Slovene-speaking communities can also be found in Argentina, Australia, Canada, and the US.

Many tourists pass through the Republic of Slovenia quickly on their way to coast, missing the many natural beauties of the country: Alps, a compact coast, charming cities (Ljubljana is built under a medieval castle), rolling hills, and lush forests (Slovenia competes only with Finland for the most forested area per sq. km.). The population is well educated; industry and agriculture are well developed.

Slovene has a rich and well developed literature, including world class writers, e.g., France Prešeren, Ivan Cankar. Contemporary writers that have been translated into English include Drago Jančar, Tomaž Šalamun. The well-known philosopher Slavoj Žižek is Slovene. There are many other excellent writers who are not translated, however, and the only way to read their works is to learn the language in which they were written.

KU is the only U.S. university to be able to offer a full course of study of Slovene language, from beginning to advanced, with a pedagogically trained native speaker. Moreover, linguists can pursue the study of historical linguistics and dialectology with a focus on Slovene and other Slavic languages at the graduate level up to the Ph.D. degree. The only international journal devoted to Slovene linguistics (Slovenski jezik / Slovene Linguistic Studies) was founded and published jointly from 1997-2011 by KU and the Slovenian Academy of Arts & Sciences.

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In Memoriam

Reed Rankin ✝ 12/29/2019

The faculty and students in the Department Slavic Languages and Literatures are deeply saddened that one our undergraduate majors, Reed Rankin, passed away last week (12/29) in Fredonia, Kansas. Reed was a beloved student in the department and is fondly remembered by his peers and professors. He began studying Russian as a Freshman and stayed with a challenging but rewarding language for three and a half years, tackling introductory, intermediate, advanced levels, and even continuing his studies into his senior year with Russian for the Professions. We know that he was planning further study in Moscow in the next academic year, prior to matriculation at KU School of Law.

A thoughtful student, Reed often contributed insight and posed challenging questions in class. ​​ Reed’s dedication to the study of Russian language, culture, and history was tremendous and fueled by infectious curiosity. He showed great acumen in translating from Russian into English, always finding English-language equivalents for Russian cultural concepts through skillful use of one-liners from American films. We also treasured his ability to speak in fluid Russian about rural, farm life in Kansas, and the effects that natural phenomena, like floods, on a farming community. He was a pleasure to know and teach, and will be remembered for his kind and polite demeanor. Our thoughts are with Reed’s family at this time


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KU’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies program is one of only 12 federally-funded national resource centers in the US
Only doctoral program in Slavic Languages and Literatures between the Mississippi and the West Coast
100% of graduate students in the Slavic program had funding in academic year 2012-13
KU's Libraries house over 500,000 volumes of Slavic books and electronic editions
Two of the department’s last four doctoral candidates have won a Fulbright grants to conduct dissertation research abroad