Slovak Language of Roma Children: Mother Tongue or Second Language

  • Hristo Kyuchukov Free University of Berlin
Keywords: mother tongue, second language, Roma children, ethnolect, Slovak language


This paper presents a study conducted with 40 Roma children from Slovakia, aged between 4-8 years, who are speakers of an ethnolect learned from their parents, but which in Slovak society is not considered to be a “good Slovak language”. Diagnostic tests in the official Slovak language were administered to the children in order to determine how well they know the complex grammatical categories of official Slovak: wh-questions, wh-complements and passive verbs. One hypothesis raised by the study is that the Roma children follow the normal linguistic development path of other children and, by the age of 5, already know the deep structure of complex sentences in Slovak. The results show that although the Roma children grow up with a particular variety of the Slovak language that is an ethnolect, they are able to comprehend and produce deep linguistic structures of Slovak, which serves for them as a mother tongue.


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How to Cite
Kyuchukov, H. (2015). Slovak Language of Roma Children: Mother Tongue or Second Language. Journal of Language and Education, 1(3), 6-11.