The Slovio Myth

The Slovio Myth

Author: Jan van Steenbergen

MS Date: 02-28-2016

FL Date: 05-01-2016

FL Number: FL-000038-00

Citation: van Steenbergen, Jan. 2016. «The Slovio Myth.»

FL-000038-00, Fiat Lingua,
. Web. 01 May 2016.

Copyright: © 2016 Jan van Steenbergen. This work is
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

Fiat Lingua is produced and maintained by the Language Creation Society (LCS). For more information
about the LCS, visit http://www.conlang.org/

THE SLOVIO MYTH

Jan van Steenbergen

Ever heard of Slovio? If so, then you may know that Slovio is a constructed language with
a Slavic-based word stock and an Esperanto-based grammar, created by the Slovak
linguist Mark Hučko in 1999 and first published on the Internet in 2001. You may have
been told that Slovio is immediately understood by 400 million people, and that it has a
dictionary of some 65,000 words. You may even have seen its slogan: “Ucxijte Slovio
tper!” (Learn Slovio now!).

The website slovio.com makes it crystal clear that Slovio is something to be taken
seriously. On the very top of this chockfull page it is introduced as “the universal
simplified Slavic language Slovio, which is mutually understandable with, compatible
with and based on the traditional Slavic and Balto-Slavic languages” – even Latvian and
Lithuanian (!). “Slovio”, author Mark Hučko writes, “is as simple as Esperanto but
understood by some 400 million people around the world. This makes Slovio one of the
most widely understood languages around the world. This international language is
gaining, daily, new ground…”1 On another page he goes even further: “In the time since
its conception Slovio has become the standard language of international communication
in Central and Eastern Europe, in Central Asia and in the Slavic speaking regions around
the World.”2

Slovio’s home page further includes testimonials by grateful Slovio users, more
advertising text, dozens of images, videos, banners, links to subpages and other websites
run by Hučko. Slovio is depicted as a huge movement, backed by a major international
organization and thousands of fans and supporters, with publishers literally rolling over
each other for the right to publish books and magazines in it.

The critical reader will not be swayed by all this rhetoric. Nevertheless, Hučko has
somehow managed to convince the world that Slovio is indeed, if not a tremendous
success, at least one of the major constructed languages of its time. The objective of this
article is to find out what Slovio really is: what it is meant for, who is behind it, on what
scale it is used, in other words, to separate myth from reality.3

1. Slovio in the media

When Slovio was first published in 2001, the Pan-Slavic language idea had a centuries-
long tradition behind it, but in the early days of the Internet the works of Križanić,
Herkeľ, Majar-Ziljski, Hošek and many others were practically forgotten, gathering dust
in libraries instead. Because the digital age witnessed a certain rebirth of Pan-Slavism

1 http://www.slovio.com/
2 http://www.slovio.com/publishers.html
3 Most of the research for this article was done in the years 2010-2012. In the meantime, many of the links provided in the footnotes
have disappeared or become redirects to other pages. Most of them can still be accessed with the Wayback Machine:
http://archive.org/web/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

1

and along with it a renewed interest in a Pan-Slavic auxiliary language, Slovio was not
only the obvious, but also the only easily accessible choice. Soon a complete grammar
and a workable dictionary were readily available on the Net, along with a mailing list, a
forum and an entire network of websites on which Slovio was used and/or promoted. It
was often discussed on the Internet, it gained some attention in the media, it was
mentioned in books, and within a few years Slovio had become a fairly known
phenomenon in the world of constructed languages. Few people realized that much of
this alleged popularity was nothing but a myth.

Wikipedia has been instrumental in spreading this myth. The first Wikipedia article
about Slovio appeared in 2002 in Esperanto, followed in 2003 by articles in English and
Polish. After that more articles appeared, in one language after another, most of them
being translations of other versions. All the information they contained could be traced
back to one rather questionable source, namely Slovio.com, but that could not stop it
from spreading like a virus, both on Wikipedia and outside. Not that all this happened
silently and with everybody’s consent: especially on the English language edition the
Slovio article has been controversial, resulting in countless discussions, deletions and
recreations. In 2007 a Wikipedia editor named Amir E. Aharoni submitted the article for
deletion, arguing as follows:

Slovio, on the other hand, seems to be a project which is developed and used only on
http://www.slovio.com and the related family of websites – http://www.slavsk.com/ ,
http://www.panslavia.com/ , http://www.zvestia.com/ and a few others, which all
look very similar, as if they were designed by the same person. I found it mentioned on
a few blogs, but I couldn’t find that it is used by anyone for actual communication. I
couldn’t find any other significant primary sources for it.4

Although this discussion caused the deletion of several language versions, there are still
articles about Slovio in ca. 30 languages. The sheer number of translations has certainly
played a role in sustaining it. Aharoni writes:

There were many interwiki links, because people in many Wikipedias worked hard to
copy all the articles about Slavic languages from the English WP to the WP in their
language. I have nothing but respect for their hard work, but before translating this
article, they should have checked whether they adhere to the criteria of Notability and
Verifiability. Instead, what we have now is a ridiculous situation: Articles in many
languages about an idea that was made up by one man and is only documented on one
website […].5

By now, there are numerous other publications about Slovio, most of which merely echo
the most basic pieces of knowledge and draw their information directly from Wikipedia,
Slovio.com or both. Paradoxically, they are now quoted as reliable sources that confirm
Slovio’s notability as well as several of the myths about it.

4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Slovio_(2nd_nomination)
5 http://wikislownik.blogspot.nl/2007/11/brzydkie-slovio-i-chiszczyzna.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

2

Interest from the academic world has been scarce, with the notable exception of three
authors. In 2004, Prof. Tilman Berger from the University of Tübingen was the first to
discuss Slovio in a published scientific resource6 and Prof. Cornelia Mannewitz from
Greifswald University wrote a thorough analysis of Slovio grammar in 2008.7 Whereas
the latter takes a somewhat apologetic stance, Berger expresses himself more critically
in a second article, titled Potemkin im Netz. Slovio und die Pseudo-Panslaven and
published in 2009, in which he argues that the entire Slovio movement is probably a
hoax. He points out that it is possible, “even probable”, that some of the sources about
Slovio outside Hučko’s own pages may have been paid for.8

The third author is Anna-Maria Meyer from the University of Bamberg, who wrote her
dissertation about the three major Pan-Slavic languages of the digital era, including
Slovio, in 2014.9 In this book – by far the most extensive work on the subject to date –
she provides an elaborate analysis of both Slovio and the Slovio movement. Her
conclusions, although formulated carefully, point into the same direction as Berger’s.

2. The author

Most of what is known about Slovio author Mark Hučko can be found in many different
Wikipedia editions: that he is a Slovak scientist and linguist who was born in Bratislava
on 15 September 1947, emigrated to Canada in 1968 and then to Switzerland in 1984.10
The assertion that Hučko is a linguist seems to originate from the Slovio page:

The development of the international language Slovio has been started by scientist and
linguist Mark Hucko.11

According to the Slovak magazine Život, however, Hučko was “not educated as a linguist,
but has a strong affinity with languages, especially with simplifying them”. The same
source continues:

He studied computer technology, genetics and biology. He worked in a biological
laboratory, sold real estate in Canada and the USA, and during the Argentinean-British
War taught English to children on the Falkland Islands. […] Currently he works in
Switzerland as a programmer.12

According Meyer, he also studied architecture before he emigrated.13 If this is true,
however, it is not mentioned on Hučko’s own user page on Wikipedia:

6 Berger, “Vom Erfinden Slavischer Sprachen“, in: M. Okuka, U. Schweier eds., Germano-Slavistische Beiträge. Festschrift für P. Rehder
zum 65. Geburtstag. Munich, 2004, pp. 19–28.
7 Cornelia Mannewitz, “Sprachplanung im Internet. Das Projekt Slovio”, in: Sabine Fiedler (ed.): Esperanto und andere Sprachen im
Vergleich. Beiträge der 18. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Interlinguistik e. V., 21. – 23. Nov. 2008, in Berlin, p. 163.
8 Tilman Berger, “Potemkin im Netz. Slovio und die Pseudo-Panslaven”. In: Osteuropa 59/12, 2009, pp. 309-316.
9 Anna-Maria Meyer, Wiederbelebung einer Utopie. Probleme und Perspektiven slavischer Plansprachen im Zeitalter des Internets am
Beispiel von Slovio, Slovianski und Novosloviensky jezyk, University of Bamberg Press, Bamberg, 2014.
10 Meyer also mentions The Netherlands as one of the countries Hučko emigrated to. Meyer, p. 162.
11 http://www.slovio.com/summary.html
12 Jaromír Novak, “Na počiatku bude slovio”. In: Život, 2005 no. 2, pp. 40–41.
13 Meyer, p. 162.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

3

I have studied at various universities and colleges, including the University of Toronto,
and the Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. I have studied computer programming
and computer sciences, natural sciences and genetics. My interest in linguistics comes
after my first encounter with Esperanto when I was in my teens.14

Another biography, also written by Hučko himself, mentions that he has lived in
Switzerland in 1983-1987 and 1993 onwards. During this last period he ran a computer
business. He also lists some of his interests, including immortology and cosmology.
Furthermore, he mentions his political activity:

The facts of Swiss-German racism and the brutal oppression of Ethnic minorities in
Switzerland had inspired Mark Hucko to get engaged in the Human-Rights movement,
and became engaged in the Ombudsman International organization.15

In other words, whatever information we have about Hučko is given bit by bit, mostly by
himself. Despite certain contradictions, one thing is clear, though: Hučko being a linguist
is a myth. Even qualifying him as an amateur linguist would at least require a verifiable
interest in linguistic science, but there is no reason at all to believe that his interest in
the field reaches any further than creating simplified versions of English and Slavic.

It is also remarkable that none of the sources mention the years in which he attended all
these studies, nor whether he actually completed any of them. Given the rather exor-
bitant nature of Hučko’s claims about himself and Slovio, this raises doubts regarding his
education as a “genetik-informatik” as well; only one site mentions an unspecified
bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto.16 At last, very little is known about his
more recent activities. All we know is that he must have moved back to Bratislava
sometime after 2006 and that he is engaged in politics nowadays.17 Berger concludes:

When one has spent some time studying this enigmatic personality, who apparently
runs an incredibly high number of websites on which he keeps revealing new
information about himself, the veracity of which, however, is not verifiable, one cannot
escape the impression that all this is just one big mystification, without any real base
outside Mark Hučko’s closest surroundings.18

Aharoni even goes one step further:

I am not even sure that this person is completely real. The language is non-notable, but
it is as real as the website slovio.com; but the person could be made up. There are no
verifiable external sources, that the name of the creator of Slovio is Mark Hucko. […]
Mark Hucko are two words and a funny photograph on a website that was published
by God-knows-who.19

At present there is no reason to doubt Hučko’s existence as a person, nor that he is
indeed the creator of Slovio. Still, we cannot exclude the possibility that parts of the
information about him may just be the product of someone’s imagination.

14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Blognik
15 http://www.slovio.com/multi-level-universe/
16 http://www.infodorf.ch/0.edv/index.html
17 http://www.magnificat.sk/2012/11/aktualne-krv-nie-je-voda-alebo-genocida-v-rukavickach/
18 Berger (2009), p. 315.
19 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Mark_Hucko_(2nd_nomination)

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

4

Mark Hučko’s many websites provide some insights about the elusive creator. Their
exact number is hard to establish, but during the last ten years there must have been
well over a hundred of them. Ca. 40 of these websites are related directly to Slovio (see
chapter 4b – “The Slovio universe”), the rest is about a variety of other things. Hučko
appears to be the father of a kind of virtual town with information, entertainment and
web shops, reminiscent of the early days of the Internet and possibly related to Hučko’s
computer business in Switzerland.20 One of these pages shows pictures of Hučko and his
children.21 On two other pages products are being advertised that are sold, perhaps even
built or invented by Hučko himself: a foldable bicycle and a drinking tube.22

More interesting, however, are the pages dedicated to Hučko’s own fields of interest.
One of these fields is language construction. Slovio is not the only language Hučko
constructed; there are three other projects as well, each of them having its own website:

 BlitzEnglish (1984), a form of simplified English23
 Inglisx (2004?), BlitzEnglish with a phonetic (“fqnetik”) orthography24
 Rusanto (2011), simplified Russian with a grammar similar to Esperanto and Slovio25

Hučko’s contributions to science are equally diverse as his websites. We find sites about
“immortology” (a term coined by himself, referring to the scientific study of eternal
life),26 theories about a “Multi-level universe”,27 genetic manipulation,28 the advantages
of salt in our diet,29 and the greenhouse effect, for which he claims to have found the
ultimate solution.30 There is, however, no indication that he has ever published anything
outside the Internet, nor that his theories have been taken seriously by anyone outside
his inner circle. This could explain why several of these pages contain passages with
complaints about the “modern-day inquisition” and the like.

Of particular interest are Hučko’s political sites. On one of them, Hučko styles himself as
“Ombudsman International”. The corresponding page is almost entirely dedicated to the
subject of “Switzerland with its systematic genocide and annihilation of the minorities”,
which he repeatedly compares to Nazi Germany.31 There is no proof that this
Ombudsman International Movement is an organization of any significance, nor, for that
matter, that it is anything but a website. That Hučko’s hostile attitude vis-à-vis
Switzerland has a personal background, is proven sufficiently by the following text:

20 Townn.com, Roofdir.com, Peakdir.com, Idorf.ch, Igorod.ru, Imesto.sk, Alpinet.com, Media1,ch, Hitpreise.ch, Playcanteen.com,
Spielkantine.com, Igralna.com, Kom1.com, Pcbombe.com, Mafiapizza.com, Putzhexe.com, Umzugarmee.ch, Biolles.com,
Mariepospisilova.com, Erasmusmondus.com, Factstv.com, Univerzit.com
21 http://imesto.sk/a/huckom/
22 Bagcycle.com, Taschenrad.com, Vivalonga.com
23 http://www.blitzenglish.com
24 http://www.inglisx.com
25 http://www.rusanto.com
26 http://www.immortology.com, http://www.slovio.com/immortology/index.html
27 http://www.slovio.com/multi-level-universe/index.html, http://www.galaktia.com/astronomia/index.html
28 http://www. gmpeople.com, http://www.townn.com/gmpeople/
29 http://www.saltydiet.com, http://www.slanadieta.com
30 http://www.stopgreenhouse.com
31 http:// www.ombudsmaninternational.com; similar content can also be found on http://www.fremdenhass.com

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

5

Mr Mark Hucko had suffered enough from discrimination and racism, had his property
confiscated, had his children stolen and alienated from him by various criminal mini-
magnates; who are everywhere and who abuse, manipulate control and steal the rights
of citizens in all countries of the World.32

Other sites run by Hučko include a page directed against the European Union,33 an anti-
Facebook site,34 two sites directed against Slovak politics,35 a site about nuclear blasts,36
a curious site that links Sudoku with masochism,37 and a short story.38 Also remarkable
is the site Multireligion.com, containing a description of some kind of eclectic sect based
on different religions, and encouraging people to make financial contributions.39

The abovementioned websites have nothing in common with Slovio and fall outside the
scope of this article, but there are two reasons why they are relevant to the current
discussion: they are all part of one big family of websites that link directly or indirectly
to Slovio.com, and they cast some light on the personality of the man behind the
language Slovio. Mannewitz writes in 2008:

Most of all, these theories, no matter their degree of elaboration, and his other
activities […] appear to characterize the author himself. All his willfulness
notwithstanding, he seems to have a general humanistic attitude that surely guides
him in his language planning activities.40

True as this may be, the general picture of all these websites also leaves the impression
of a man who attempted to achieve greatness in many different fields, but never
succeeded in any of them. To make up for this, he has created a virtual world in which he
is everything at once: computer scientist, geneticist, cosmologist, linguist, guru, ombuds-
man international, and even the first person in 1000 years who stopped the splintering
of the Slavic languages.41 In spite of these epithets, however, we must conclude that all
Hučko’s projects are one-man actions without any serious backing of others. On several
pages, he utters his frustration about the world’s lack of appreciation for his work:

The Earth is Flat! The Universe is Flat! Everybody knows that the universe is Flat and
One-Level! Burn Mark Hucko at stake!42

One thing one cannot fail to notice are numerous fallacies in his way of arguing. He
enforces his point of view by posing as a leading authority, scientist or pioneer whose
opinion should be taken for granted. In discussions about Slovio, he often assumes the
role of the vox populi, too. His writings are characterized by circular reasoning and the
frequent use of weasel words: “analysts point out that …”, “it is commonly known

32 http:// www.ombudsmaninternational.com
33 http:// www.bananaunion.eu
34 http:// www.nospybook.com
35 http:// www.gorilizm.com, http:// www.protestgorila.com
36 http:// www.chernoshima.com
37 http:// www.sudomasochist.com
38 http://www.robdustrial.com
39 http://multireligion.com
40 Mannewitz, p. 163.
41 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2StEgrXSC4
42 http://web.archive.org/web/20080109220054/http://www.slovio.com/multi-level-universe/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

6

that …”, “we have evidence that …”, etc. He never uses footnotes or references, and rarely
provides any actual evidence for his statements. Instead, he tends to repeat them ad
nauseam, which is visible very clearly on the Slovio pages. When it comes to defending
his point of view, he often resorts to ad hominem attacks against those who disagree
with him, and the burden of evidence is shifted to the latter.

Not surprisingly, given the above, many of Hučko’s pages are soaked with negativity. A
lot of them are just plainly anti-something, and even in the remaining cases his reaso-
ning is often based on the train of thought: A is wrong and B is wrong; therefore, C must
be right. For example, Slovio is good because Esperanto is useless, the natural Slavic
languages are too difficult and other constructed Slavic languages are either incomplete,
too difficult or were created by the wrong people. It creates the overall picture of a man
who can flourish in conflict situations only, and whose self-definition is not based on
what he is or what he stands for, but on the things he hates, loathes and/or fights.

Whether Hučko’s highly exaggerated reports about his own importance in various fields
are symptoms of megalomania, wishful thinking or mere deception, is difficult to tell.
Possibly, money plays a role as well. Visitors are asked
for donations on
Stopgreenhouse.com “to help save the Earth” and on Ombudsmaninternational.com “to
preserve your freedom and the freedom of your children”. Even the Slovio pages are full
of “donate” buttons, even though they state explicitly that Slovio needs help but does not
need money. He has repeatedly accused people who work on projects other than Slovio
of stealing his income. If this is true at all, it remains obscure how he has ever managed
to gain any substantial income out of that project.

3. Characteristics

a) Purpose

Undoubtedly, the most elementary questions one can ask about a constructed language
are: what is it and what is it for? It is often taken for granted that Slovio is a language for
Pan-Slavic use, but there are good reasons to believe that initially it was meant to serve
as a world language like Esperanto. On its own website Slovio repeatedly claims to be
“universal”, and Esperanto is systematically portrayed as its main rival. The reader is
encouraged to start Slovio klubis in every city or town, much like Esperanto culture, and
project Putnik, encouraging Slovio learners to offer hospitality to other Slovio learners,
mimics Esperanto’s Pasporta Servo.43 The global ambitions of Slovio are perhaps best
demonstrated by the first version of the Slovio page in 2001:

The new international language takes the world by storm! First there was Völapük
[sic], Esperanto and Ido. Now there is Slovio!44

43 http://slovio.com/putnik/index.html
44 http://web.archive.org/web/20010418143934/http://www.slovio.com/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

7

This objective, a language for global use, is still predominant on Slovio’s homepage. The
Slavs may or may not be the primary target group of the language, but certainly not the
only one:

But apart from Slavic speakers we wanted to make Slovio easy to learn and pronounce
for speakers of all languages. Be it German, Italian, English, Mandarin, Arabic or
Hindi.45

On the other hand, early messages on the Slovio mailing list (founded in August 2002)
suggest something quite different. Under the pseudonym posxta Mark Hučko writes:

Our goal is to open up all possible channels of communication among the Slavic
speakers to promote cultural and industrial growth and economic prosperity.46

First of all we have to unite our Slavic people culturally, through a common language.
[…] Slovio is the first modern all-Slavic language in existence.47

The political goals of Slovio are pushed even further by other members of the group. For
example:

So before we start any of this, we need a political action in all Slavic countries and if
Slovio is already made, then you should promote the political idea as well. There should
be a Pan-Slavic party in every country which would run on elections and promote this
cooperation with other Slavic countries because that’s the only way we could do
something about our problems today. Unless there’s a strong political activity, Slovio is
nothing!48

The fact that the Slovio mailing list was populated by people with rather extreme views
is exemplified by posts like the following:

We have to be more aggressive with our enemies, and one day we must avenge all the
churches and monasteries that were destroyed by dirty, muslim scum down in Kosovo
& Metohija.49

So what the Hungarians and Germans have in common is their Anti-Slavicism and the
fact that they own 100% of their success to de-slavonization, occupation and
enslavement of the original Slavonic civilization which they have destroyed.50

Texts like these say little about the purpose of Slovio as language, but they do cast some
light on the way of thinking of Hučko and the people surrounding him, mostly radical
nationalists and Pan-Slavists. It should also be noted that most of the discussions on the
Slovio mailing list were neither in nor about Slovio, but about politics – even after a
second mailing list (“slovio2”) had been set up specifically for political discussions.

45 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.voprosis/index.html
46 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/17
47 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/21
48 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/18
49 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/136
50 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/73

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

8

In later years, other purposes have been mentioned in passing as well. One of them is
that Slovio is meant specifically for members of the Slavic diaspora:

The main target group of Slovio is the group of Slavs whose everyday language is
either a Romance or a Germanic one.51

In other words, Slovio should bring people of Slavic descent in the West closer to their
own roots. In Hučko’s view, the Slavic diaspora constitutes nothing less than a separate
Slavic nation:

Diaspora Slavs, some 60 million Slavs living in the diaspora, and their children and
grandchildren are the second largest Slavic nation. […] Slovio is a common language
for all Slavs, regardless where they live, regardless where they have been born,
regardless whether or not they speak any traditional Slavic language.52

On the forum of the Slovak-nationalist SHO he even goes a step further by proposing
Slovio as a means to slavicize the Hungarian minority in Slovakia:

Slovio is intended to be a very simple language, so that even the most stupid Hungarian
can learn it easily. So that we can slavicize the Hungarians, who by descent are
magyarized Slavs anyway. If we show them normal Slovak or another Slavic language,
it is too complicated for them and they will never learn it. Isn’t it better for Hungarians
to learn Slovio than for us to learn Hungarian? Or do you want to learn Hungarian?53

Summarizing, Hučko’s own statements are not particularly helpful in determining the
true goals of Slovio, because they are different for each target audience. The duality in
purpose is perhaps best expressed by the following sentence from one of his pages:

It is not only a universal Slavic language but also a universal international language.54

The difference may seem trivial, but it is crucial for an evaluation of the language. Well-
defined design principles constitute the foundation of any decent constructed language,
and these design principles are dictated by its equally well-defined purpose. A language
to be learned and used easily by speakers of English, Chinese and Hindi has to meet
different criteria than a communication tool for speakers of a group of closely related
languages. If Slovio is indeed intended to fulfill both tasks at once, this would indicate a
principal weakness. But instead of jumping to conclusions, let’s see what Slovio itself can
tell us about its own purpose.

b) Orthography

Officially, Slovio can be written in the Latin and the Cyrillic alphabet, but it is clear that
the former has been given most thought. Slovio has a very characteristic and, to a certain
degree, original orthography that is considerably different from any of the existing Slavic

51 http://s8.zetaboards.com/Slovianski/topic/8253240/2/
52 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-xBKB17TLI, http://s8.zetaboards.com/Slovianski/topic/8258348/1/
53 http://forum.sho.sk/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1868&hilit=Slovio&sid=2897d5cb97b643e95312686dd06fb497
54 http://www.panslavia.com/jazika/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

9

orthographies. Simplicity is the dominant goal, so characters outside the ASCII range are
avoided. Instead of the characters š, č, ž (representing phonemes that are common in
Slavic), Hučko introduces the digraphs sx, cx, zx. This is not a novelty in itself, because
the same thing has been done before in Esperanto, the so-called x-sistemo for writing ŝ, ĉ
etc.). The reasoning is simple: whatever the value of x in any language may be, it is
unlikely to occur in these three combinations and therefore won’t be easily mistaken for
anything but a replacement of the haček. As a result, sx, cx and zx have become Slovio’s
trademarks more than anything else. Many people find them ugly and even pick them as
a target when criticizing Slovio, but it must be said they do their job reasonably well and
contribute greatly to Slovio’s specific look-and-feel.

Another remarkable characteristic of Slovio orthography is that it tends to replace the
letter j with i, perhaps in an effort to avoid problems for people who pronounce j
differently, like the English and the French. Thus, Slovio has morie “sea” and siem
“seven”, but also krai “edge”, voina “war”, and even zaiac “hare” and usvoienie
“adoption”. In other cases it is omitted completely: proekt “project”, nastroenie
“mood”, ehat “to ride”. The letter j remains only at the beginning of words (jaico “egg”,
jelen “deer”), in verb endings and in the omnipresent adjective ending -ju. Sometimes
this causes inconsistencies, for example jasnju “bright” vs. obiasnit “to explain”, where
the etymological connection between both words is obfuscated by the spelling.

Slovio orthography offers a few real curiosa as well. It proposes q as an equivalent of the
Cyrillic soft sign ь, even though the language itself does not use it, and instead of the
combination sxcx it uses wx (for example Wxecin “Szczecin”), ideas that are more than
slightly reminiscent of the so-called “Volapük encoding”.55 Even stranger are the
combinations hq [h], hx [x] and the Romanesque gx [dʒ].

Although officially Cyrillic is treated equally in Slovio, it is hardly ever used outside a few
text samples on the website. Neither the dictionary nor the grammar use Cyrillic, and
instructions regarding its use appear to be a mere formality. It is clear that all the work
and craftsmanship have been invested in the Latin orthography, while the negative
effects of the latter on its Cyrillic counterpart are ignored completely. For example, the
numbers piat and siem become пиат and сием, which in Cyrillic can only be
pronounced as two syllables. And a word like jasnju becoming йаснйу is something
that hurts the eye of anyone used to reading Cyrillic. The fact that on the main page
“Microsoft” is written Мицрософт (logically pronounced [miʦrɔsɔft]) raises doubts
regarding the author’s proficiency in Cyrillic.

c) Vocabulary

Slovio claims to be based on all Slavic languages, but Berger finds himself wondering
whether this is a genuine intention or merely a declaration.56 Critics often accuse the

55 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volapuk_encoding
56 Berger (2009), p. 312.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

10

language of being overly dominated by Russian. In an effort to approach this issue
methodically, Meyer compares Slovio with the natural Slavic languages applying the
ASJP method (Automated Similarity Judgment Program), which attempts to quantify the
distance between languages by counting the number of phoneme alterations –
insertions, substitutions and deletions – needed for transforming a word in one
language to the corresponding word in another. The result is of her research positions
Slovio closest to Slovene and furthest from Russian, which according to Meyer “refutes
the accusation that Slovio is highly tributary to Russian”.57 However, this method has its
disadvantages. First of all, research is limited to 40 words from the Swadesh list, words
that tend to be similar in Slavic. In addition, [i] and [ɪ] are treated as equally different
phonemes as for example [k] and [r]. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that Slovio’s
simplified phonology places it closest to languages with a more limited phoneme
inventory, i.e. South Slavic. In other words, any conclusions based on this method are
justified as far as phonological similarities are concerned, but it is insufficient for
determining the primary vocabulary source.

That Slovio is not exclusively based on Russian is also proven by the presence of words
that either cannot be found in Russian at all, like budovit “to build” and the conjunction
zxe “that”, or take a form used in other Slavic languages than Russian, for example krava
“cow” (Russian корова) and kvit “flower” (Russian цветок). Sometimes Slovio offers
multiple options taken from different languages (for example mehur and puzir
“bladder”, or kolacx, pirog and tort “cake”). Cases like these are rather exceptional,
though. A quick browse through the lexicon is enough to notice that word roots that
cannot be found in Russian one way or another are rare. A more thorough examination
also turns up words that exist in Russian only, for example sobak “dog” (whereas all
other Slavic languages and even Russian itself also have pes). Another example is cvet in
the meaning “color”, which exists in Russian and Bulgarian, but is a false friend in all the
remaining Slavic languages. The overall impression is that Russian is the dominant input
language, with Hučko’s native Slovak playing the role of subdominant language. Traces
of Polish, Ukrainian and South Slavic are scarce. Some words, like glos “voice” and glov
“head” resemble Polish głos and głowa, but Berger argues that these were probably
meant as compromises between Russian голос, голова and Czecho-Slovak hlas, hlava.58

Slovio’s close relationship with Russian is illustrated by the fact that Hučko reintroduced
it in 2007 as “simplified Russian” under the name Ruskio.59 This language is identical to
Slovio, except for the fact that it uses s*, c*, z*, g* and w* instead of sx, cx, etc. To be fair,
this does not necessarily make Slovio a simplified Russian of any kind, it rather implies
that promoting Slovio appears to be Ruskio’s only purpose.

Slovio also has vocabulary that does not exist in Slavic at all, for example plus “more”,
minus “less”, megalion “million” and gigalion “milliard, billion”. A special category is

57 Meyer, pp. 231-244.
58 Berger (2009), p. 310.
59 http://www.ruskio.com/ruskio-m.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

11

portmanteau words based on etymologically unrelated material, for example zxrakula
“shark” from Czech/Slovak žralok and Russian акула. A few words were created a priori,
i.e. as products of the author’s own imagination. This can be said about the universal
preposition om, the imperative marker das and the suffix -io for language names.

At last, Slovio vocabulary has a major non-Slavic influence, namely English and German.
Very characteristic for Slovio are countless calques from these languages, for example
slovknig “dictionary”, gradburia “hailstorm”, malgrod “village” (German: Kleinstadt),
mozg-napad “stroke” (lit. “brain attack”), zver-ogrod “zoo” (German: Tiergarten) and
otdel intensiv-opekaf “intensive care”. This way of creating compounds, common in
Germanic, is rare in Slavic and looks very odd to the Slavic eye.60

If Slovio’s word stock is really based on all Slavic languages, the least that can be said is
that it treats them very unequally. Besides, those words that do not come straight from
Russian appear to have been picked from other languages rather haphazardly. The
overall impression is that little research has been done into the question of how
widespread words are in the Slavic world.

Another issue is how Slavic words were transformed into Slovio words. The primary
objective of Slovio is simplicity, so it should come as no surprise that it has a rather
minimalistic phonology consisting of 20 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes, an inventory
smaller than in any of the natural Slavic languages.61 Distinctions between hard and soft
consonants are absent in Slovio.

Particularly puzzling is the fact that many feminine and neuter nouns (which in Slavic
usually carry the ending -a resp. –o/–e) are truncated in Slovio: zxen “woman”, knig
“book”, glov “head”, dorog “way”, slov “word”, drev “tree”, etc. This actually resembles
Volapük, where every noun is required to begin and end in a consonant. But whereas
Volapük nouns are the base for countless combinations with various affixes in the
format vowel + consonant, Slovio grammar is well-equipped to handle nouns ending in a
vowel, so that truncation is not needed at all. Besides, numerous other words preserve
their final vowel: dusxa “soul”, muha “fly”, broda “beard”, pole “field”, ozero “lake”.
Especially surprising in this context is the word jazika “language”, which has a final -a
that it is non-existent in Slavic, presumably to distinguish “language” from “tongue” in an
effort to make things easier for native speakers of English.62

Truncation of final vowels is not the only symptom of Slovio’s tendency towards short,
preferably monosyllabic words. We can also find examples like tper “now” (Russian:
теперь) and gvorit “to speak” (Russian: говорить). Particularly instructive are the
numbers 1-10: din, dva, tri, cxtir, piat, sxes, siem, vos, dev, des. Except for the fact
that they are visibly based on Russian, no less than four of them (1, 8-10) were
shortened almost beyond recognition. From the very beginning, these numbers have

60 Meyer attributes these and similar compounds to Esperanto and not to Germanic influence. Meyer, pp. 195-196.
61 Meyer, p. 184.
62 http://s8.zetaboards.com/Slovianski/topic/8253240/2/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

12

been criticized heavily and Roman Dushkin even made an elaborate proposal for an
alternative system,63 although none of his suggestions have ever been adopted.

Slovio vocabulary does not relate in any regular way to the etymological differences
between languages. For example, every Slavic language has its own default way of
dealing with Proto-Slavic TorT/TolT sequences (words with -or- or -ol- between conso-
nants), but in Slovio they appear to have been chosen totally randomly. Thus we find:

 -oro-/-olo- (East Slavic): dorog “way”, korol “king”, holod “chill”, bolot “mud”
 -ro-/-lo- (Polish, Sorbian): grod “town”, broda “beard”, glos “voice”, glod “hunger”
 -ra-/-la- (Czecho-Slovak, South-Slavic): krava “cow”, dragoju “expensive”, zlato

“gold”, dlan “hand”.

The same goes for hard and soft consonants. Normally Slovio does not distinguish them,
yet it has liudis “people” and lubovit “to love”, both from initial ĺu- in Slavic. An extreme
example is the aforementioned number siem “7”, where the inserted i is merely the
result of the Russian tendency to soften any consonant before e.

Sometimes different reflexes of the same root are used for different meanings: glov
“head” vs. glavju “main”, dolgju “long” vs. dlug “debt”, cvet “color” vs. kvit “flower”, etc.
As a result, Slovio words tend to be totally unpredictable for Slavic speakers, because
there is no way of telling whether the word for “cow” should be krova, krava, krov or
korov without checking the dictionary first. For non-Slavs this may be irrelevant, but for
Slavs it makes writing in Slovio a tiresome undertaking.

How can these oddities and inconsistencies be explained, except for the obvious fact that
the author’s knowledge about comparative linguistics is limited? The answer is probably
that different methods were applied in different phases of Slovio’s development. Usually,
conlangers start their projects with some basic words like “woman”, “good”, “to do” and
the numbers 1-10, which more than anything reflect what their creators originally had
in mind. In this case everything points in the direction of short roots in combination with
affixes, as in Volapük. During later stages of the project, Hučko may have been influenced
by people with more knowledge about Slavistics, or simply adopted their suggestions
blindly. A conscientious language creator would have updated all previously existing
material in the process, but Hučko’s online behavior from 2001 onwards indicates that
he has always been more focused on the quick expansion and promotion of Slovio than
on quality.

d) Grammar

Grammatically, Slovio is a typical example of a schematic language, which means that

grammar and morphology have been deliberately simplified and regularized, with
idiosyncrasies from source languages (if any) removed, in order to be simpler and

63 http://roman-dushkin.narod.ru/v_paper_06_eng.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

13

more streamlined than those of the ethnic languages, even if this should make the
language’s vocabulary relatively unrecognizable to newcomers to the language.64

Schematic languages typically avoid gender distinctions and have one conjugation and
one declension only. Vocabulary derivation is governed by internal rules and not by
whatever their natural source languages do. As a result, languages of this type tend to
provide a whole battery of prefixes and suffixes that can be added freely to any root to
modify its meaning. The overall purpose is that a schematic language should be easy to
learn, because all one needs to know is a limited set of roots, a set of modifiers and a
minimal number of grammatical rules. Not surprisingly, schematicism is a feature typi-
cal for global auxiliary languages. However, since many features of natural languages are
sacrificed on the altar of simplicity and regularity, it is rarely used in zonal languages.

Hučko has repeated many times that Slovio’s main feature is simplicity, and indeed, it
has a regularized table of correlatives like Esperanto65 and a grammar that is essentially
a list of affixes.66 Most of these affixes were taken from Slavic, but not necessarily in the
same meaning. For example, the suffix -nik denotes a person, but unlike the Slavic
languages Slovio also uses it in words like agentnik, zxoknik (“jockey”) and Bulgarnik
(yet, Slovio has prezident and not *prezidentnik). Moreover, the suffix is gender-
neutral; when the subject is explicitly male, -nic is used instead (not found in Slavic, but
clearly based on the feminine ending -nica). Some affixes are based on words that in
Slavic are never used as such: vidimozxju “visible”, vidinuzxju “which needs to be
seen”. Likewise, the noun zem (“country”, from земля) is used as a suffix, too: Ruszem
“Russia”. Some affixes were borrowed from non-Slavic languages, like -tor for motorized
mechanical devices, giving interesting hybrids like pracxtor “washing machine”. A few
were created a priori, like the aforementioned -io (Rusio “Russian language”).

The plural is formed with the ending -is (-s after a vowel) and there is one synthetic case
to denote object or direction, sometimes used as a genitive as well: -uf (-f after a vowel).
Combined they have the ending -ifs (-fs after a vowel), giving a two-case system that is
practically identical to Esperanto, which uses -j, -n and -jn in the same manner.
Adjectives always have the ending -ju. None of these endings are based on Slavic. The
ending -uf reveals a certain similarity with -ov, but was chosen because the sound f is
rare in Slavic and therefore “leads to the least confusion and misunderstanding”.67

Among the many striking similarities between Slovio and Esperanto Meyer also lists the
definite article ta, used in the same way as Esperanto “la” and English “the”: ta zxen “the
woman”.68 Definiteness is usually unmarked in all Slavic languages except Bulgarian and
Macedonian, the latter using definite articles in the form of suffixes. There is, however, a
clear discrepancy between theory as proscribed by the grammar and the available Slovio
texts, in which the article is usually omitted.

64 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Schematic_planned_language&oldid=7588389
65 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.slovio/osnov.html
66 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.slovio/index.html
67 ibidem.
68 Meyer, p. 205.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

14

As might be expected in a schematic language, verbal aspect (one of the most typical
features in Slavic) is practically absent in Slovio. It does provide the suffix -va-
(expressing durativity or repetition) and the prefix zu- (expressing completion), but this
does not cause the formation of aspect pairs like in Slavic, and they are rarely used in
any of the written Slovio texts.

When it comes to inflection of verbs, minimalism is abandoned and no less than three
different models are proposed, each of them loosely based on Slavic. The writer is free in
his choice, although for each tense the grammar mentions a preferred solution:

 a “long form” based on an auxiliary particle (es in the present tense, bil for the past

tense, bu for the future tense, bi for the conditional), followed by the infinitive;

 a “short form” in the form of root + ending (-t for the infinitive and the present tense,
-l for the past tense, -b for the future tense, -lbi for the conditional and -j for the
imperative);

 a form inflected for person and number, with the endings -jm, -jsx, -jt, -me, -te, -jut.69

The unexpected forms in the singular are meant to be “a compromise between the West
and South Slavic dialects on one side and Russian on the other side”, with the somewhat
enigmatic explanation that “these a bit unusual endings make to the reader immediately
clear what they are.”70 Whereas these inflected forms are definitely a naturalistic trait in
Slovio, participles (including a set of future participles!) on the other hand are formed
fully schematically: delabsuo “going to do”, delalju “done”, etc. In Meyer’s view, a
number of six different participles is unexpected in a minimalist language,71 but it might
as well be argued that such superfluous forms are the logical outcome of the schematic
character of the language.

Returning to the question of what information Slovio grammar and vocabulary give
about its purpose: elements of both global and zonal auxiliary languages can be
distinguished, but the former are clearly in the majority. It may seem absurd for a global
language to be based on Slavic only, but the idea is not so strange if we consider that
most prominent languages of this type are predominantly (Esperanto, Ido) or almost
exclusively (Interlingua, Lingua Franca Nova) based on the Romance languages; Ogden’s
Basic English and Peano’s Latino Sine Flexione prove that a global auxiliary language can
even be based on a single language. The advantage of such a language is that
communication is not restricted to those who have learned it, whereas a heterogeneous
language made up of several unrelated languages is understandable only to those who
know either the language itself or all its individual input languages. This argument is
mentioned explicitly on the Slovio page.72

69 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.slovio/idit.html
70 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.voprosis/index.html
71 Meyer, p. 219.
72 http://www.slovio.com/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

15

Typically, in languages for global use simplicity takes priority, while in zonal languages
the main focus point is understandability for the speakers of a group of related
languages. It is nowhere said that a zonal language cannot be simple, but this simplicity
will always depend on the speakers of this particular group. Since we may assume that
the easiest grammar for a native speaker of English is English grammar, we may also
assume that the same goes for Slavs. But even though Slovio grammar is based on Slavic
material, its entire structure is almost identical to Esperanto and completely different
from Slavic. The claim that it is 99% Slavic and that any similarities to Esperanto are
explained by the fact that “Esperanto was created by a Polish and Russian speaker, who
had taken a lot of his inspiration from Slavic languages”73 cannot be taken seriously.

At last, Slovio contains numerous elements that cannot possibly be justified in a Pan-
Slavic language, because they have no meaning whatsoever to a person who hasn’t
learned them (for example the participles, the preposition om and omnipresent endings
like -ju, -is and -uf). Even if they do not render the entire word or sentence
incomprehensible, the result is understandable in spite and not because of them, and
therefore learning them bears no value in communication with or among Slavs at all.
Likewise, the unpredictable character of the vocabulary makes the language not only
harder to read for Slavs, but also very inconvenient to write or speak. It should be added
that Slovio’s schematic grammar, its Germanic way of compounding and its tendency
towards very short and often truncated words result in an “armed concrete style” that
many Slavs perceive as ugly and artificial. In short, if Slovio’s primary objective is to
serve as a Pan-Slavic language, it must be qualified as a rather poor effort.

4. Slovio propaganda

Over the years, Slovio has become known for the vigorous way it is being propagated. A
language creator whose ambition it is to gather a large user community for his project
cannot be expected to understate its qualities and successes, but Slovio propaganda is
extreme by any standard. Berger writes:

Given the so obviously unserious character of the entire enterprise, and given the
amount of fantastic, exaggerated, unverifiable and clearly false information, it is
indeed difficult to assess how widespread Slovio really is.74

The scale of these exaggerations is pretty much unheard of in the history of constructed
languages, which is perhaps why many people, even though they are aware of this to
some degree, still believe that at least part of it has to be true. As can be seen in various
discussions about Slovio, some of the myths about it are taken for granted. Let us
therefore take a look at the various claims that have been uttered about Slovio at various
occasions.

73 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.voprosis/index.html
74 Berger (2009), pp. 315-316.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

16

a) 400 million people

Slovio’s main page states no less than 19 times (!) that Slovio is understood by 400
million people. The entire population of the former Soviet Union, the Slavic-speaking
countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the Slavic diaspora might be just enough to
reach such a figure, but not every citizen of these nations speaks a Slavic language – not
even to mention the fact that part of these citizens are young children. More importantly,
how much an individual can understand from a language that is not his own, differs
greatly from one person to another. Slovio is certainly understandable for a large
number of Poles, but since many Poles even have trouble understanding Cashubian or
Silesian (considered Polish dialects by many), it is hard to imagine that the same people
can easily understand a language that is predominantly a mix of Russian and Esperanto.
Without any actual research, estimates about the number of people who can really
understand it are nothing but guesswork. At present, all we have are reactions on the
Internet, often in response to the following text sample:

Sxto es Slovio? Slovio es novju mezxunarodju jazika ktor razumijut cxtirsto milion ludis
na celoju zemla. Slovio mozxete upotrebit dla gvorenie so cxtirsto milion slavju Ludis
ot Praga do Vladivostok; ot Sankt Peterburg cxerez Varsxava do Varna; ot Sredzemju
Morie i ot Severju Morie do Tihju Okean. Slovio imajt prostju, logikju gramatia i Slovio
es idealju jazika dla dnesju ludis. Ucxijte Slovio tper!75

This text is often met with positive reactions, but that is not surprising given its simpli-
city and repetitiveness: it would have been understandable in any other Slavic language
as well. It does not contain grammatical oddities like -uf and practically all words come
from Russian. Experiments conducted with more complicated texts are non-existent.

b) The Slovio universe

Being understood by a certain amount of people and actually being used are two very
different things. The Slovio page contains bold statements with respect to the allegedly
wide scale on which Slovio is used. As early as October 2004, Hučko said:

In this short period of time Slovio has become a language that is being discussed in
many encyclopedias worldwide and in which leading works have been written by
professional linguists.76

It may be assumed that the “many encyclopedias worldwide” refer to Wikipedia, but it is
unclear what he means by “leading works by professional linguists”. Except for Hučko’s
own writings on his many websites, there is no evidence that Slovio has ever been used
for any scientific or non-scientific publication at all. Although the site has special
subpages for potential publishing houses and translators and promises numerous books

75 “What is Slovio? Slovio is a new, international language that is understood by millions of people around the world. You can use Slovio
to talk to four hundred millions of Slavic people from Prague to Vladivostok, from St. Petersburg via Warsaw to Varna; from the
Mediterranean and the North Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Slovio has a simple, logical grammar and Slovio is the ideal language for the
people of today. Learn Slovio now!”
76 Ľudovít Števko, “Esperanto Slovanov”. In: Extra Plus, nr. 10/2004, pp. 26-27.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

17

and other publications in Slovio, the only verifiable reference to publications in Slovio
are four small E-books with learning materials for children.77

Bold claims are also made regarding its use in commerce. At the very top of the Slovio
page we are informed that one company after another switches to Slovio, because there
is money to be made with it. An example is a certain Rudolf F. from Germany:

Until I have learned Slovio I had great difficulties in competing with other businessmen
in this area. However with Slovio I can talk with anybody without translators, and
discuss anything, any business I want. Slovio had doubled my business with the
region.78

In reality, there is not the slightest proof that Slovio has ever been used by companies,
except for one American firm that did a brief experiment with Slovio and switched to
another language shortly afterwards.79 While it cannot be excluded that Rudolf F. really
exists, one may wonder how much more probable it is that Hučko wrote this text
himself. Given the abundance of unreliable or outright false information throughout the
site, it should be considered that the written testimonials of Rudolf F. and other happy
Slovio users on the same page might be fabrications, too.

In view of the above, presenting Slovio as “the standard language for communication in
Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Slavic-speaking regions all over the world”
is a grotesque exaggeration. Yet, even more remarkable is that Slovio is repeatedly called
“official”.80 This would imply sanctioning by some state, region or institution, which
raises the question what sort of body this may be. One possibility is Slavopedia, a
project initiated in 2005 to coordinate cooperation between the various Slavic
Wikipedia editions and closed in 2008 for a lack of interest.81 Most of its pages were in
Slovio, although it is doubtful whether this was the result of any community decision.
Only one participant actually used it – the same person who was also responsible for a
Polish-Slovio dictionary.82

A more likely candidate is the World Slavic Congress. Its website Panslavia.com (in
English and Slovio) gives the impression of a real international organization with a
presidential council, a secretariat and even a moderate and a radical wing.83 However,
except for a few articles in which Pan-Slavic views are exposed, the only purpose of the
site appears to be promoting Slovio. The style of the site is very similar to that of the
Slovio page, which “raises the suspicion that the Panslavia pages are run by the same
people who are also responsible for Slovio”.84 In any case, there is not the slightest piece

77 http://www.bluejellyfish.com.au/downloads/slovio.html
78 http://www.slovio.com
79 An American law firm with offices in several Central European countries. Unfortunately, few details have been revealed about it on
the Internet. See f.ex. http://s8.zetaboards.com/Slovianski/topic/8244886/1/#post8013787
80 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcRSVxWDyCM, http://interslavic.org/
81 http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Slavopedia
82 http://pl.wiktionary.org/wiki/S%C5%82ownik_slovio
83 http://www.panslavia.com/
84 Berger (2009), pp. 314-315.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

18

of evidence that the World Slavic Congress exists anywhere else than on this particular
website, which has not been updated for years.

Slovio.com and Panslavia.com are not the only websites about Slovio. Hučko’s large
network of interlinked websites contains ca. 40 other sites on which Slovio is used or
otherwise plays an important role, including:

 Blognik.com: the Slovio forum
 Cxat.com: a chat box
 Europnik.com: contains only a few maps of Europe, the text “European Media

Organization” in English and Slovio, and a phone number

 Galaktia.com: a site titled “Multilevel cosmology” with several subpages about

philosophy, history, art, biology, astronomy, etc.

 Genetnik.com: invites Slavic geneticists to cooperate with an unnamed firm
 Iskat.com: a collection of links
 Mlodica.com: refers to a “Miss Panslavia” beauty contest
 Piratnik.com: a site for downloading MP3s, movies, etc.
 Pirogis.com: Slavic recipes
 Posxta.com and Posxt.com: a site that offers free “Slavsk email”
 Posxto.com: a site with Esperanto links, on which Slovio is propagated
 Prirod.com: about the reproduction of mammals and why dinosaurs died out
 Protivirus.com: links to downloadable anti-virus programs
 Quicklanguage.com: a site with links to Hučko’s constructed languages
 Registrit.com and Registrina.com: for domain registration
 Slavarabia.com: a “Slavic-Arabic chamber of commerce”
 Slavianstvo.com: “an international cultural, linguistic, non-political and non-religious

organization of Slavic speaking and friendly nations, states and cultures”

 Slavsk.com: another Slovio page, where it is presented under the name “Slavsk”
 Slonux.com: “a robust industrial Linux for professionals”
 Zvestia.com: a news site that claims to be international, objective and neutral
 A number of porn sites in Slovio.85

Impressive as this collection may seem, most of these sites have little content: a few
sentences, images and/or videos, lots of banners and links. Some of them are empty
shells that contain other sites in a frame. All these pages look very similar and are visibly
the work of the same person. They were written in a somewhat primitive HTML code
reminiscent of the 1990s and can be found on the same server, and their domains are or
were owned by Hučko. Most of these pages – with the exception of Slovio.com and
Zvestia.com – have never or hardly ever been updated since their initial version. Some of
them are still online, others have in the meantime been replaced by redirects to Slovio
pages or disappeared altogether.

85 dirka.com, ficktoria.com, gigapenis.com, inseminary.com, kurva.com, loch.li, microscrew.com, pedofilnik.com, pizd.com, puff.ch,
puff.li, roofsex.com, seksnik.com, sexarmee.com, yebat.com

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

19

One might wonder: why such a large and undoubtedly expensive network of websites
with different domain names, if their collective content would easily fit on a few
subpages of Slovio.com as well? It looks like the whole thing is meant to create the
impression that Slovio is being used on a large scale. On the other hand, it is not
impossible that these sites were merely intended to serve as a demonstration of what
Slovio is capable of, or perhaps also as a basic framework for a virtual “Slovio Universe”
to be used and expanded in the future.

c) The Slovio community

One of the recurring myths about Slovio is that it is spoken by a large community. Again,
Slovio.com makes bold claims:

We already know about thousands of people around the world who are learning Slovio.
[…] We also know about hundreds of Hungarian citizens who are learning Slovio in
order to communicate with their 400 million Slavic neighbors, Slovaks included.86

A user of the Slovio forum, presumably Hučko himself, goes even further, stating that
“tens of thousands of Non-Slavs are learning Slovio now.”87 High numbers have also
appeared elsewhere. In the years 2006-2010, the French Wikipedia listed a number of
over 100 speakers,88 while until February 2008 the English Wikipedia listed it as one of
the ten major spoken auxiliary languages.89 In both cases, no source was given.

In the case of constructed languages numbers of speakers are always a difficult issue,
because there is no way of collecting and verifying this kind of information: there are no
censuses to rely on, and not every speaker is necessarily a member of a club or Internet
group. Besides, what level of fluency is required, and how can this be measured? Anyone
can scribble down a few reasonably decent sentences with the help of a grammar and a
dictionary, but does that make him a speaker? To get at least a rough impression of the
size of the Slovio community, we must refer to its two main gathering places, a mailing
list and a forum. Both have repeatedly been used as indicators for Slovio activity. Let us
assume that any person who has proven capable of using Slovio and has done so with a
certain regularity for a certain period, can be considered a speaker or user.

Slovio has a Yahoo! Group with nearly 1,000 members (945 in December 2012),90 an
extraordinarily high number for a constructed language. However, the relatively low
number of messages posted to the group evokes some serious doubts: 1446 in twelve
years (of which 336 were written during the four months after the group had been
founded in 2002, only 68 in the years 2010-2012 and not a single message after 2012). It
is not uncommon that most members of such groups never post a single message, but for
a group of this size this number is remarkably low by any standard. For comparison: the

86 http://www.slovio.com/sk.jazika/index.html
87 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1225570924/Slavic+Interlingua
88 http://fr.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Liste_de_langues_construites&oldid=12628014
89 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=List_of_constructed_languages&oldid=192475507
90 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/slovio/

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

20

Yahoo! Group of the Inter-Germanic language Folkspraak has only half its amount of
members, but more than ten times its number of messages.91

Part of the explanation is that group members have been added without their knowledge
and consent, which is something only a group owner (in this case Mark Hučko) can do.
Skimming through the archives, we can find dozens of messages, in which people
demand to be unsubscribed. Particularly revealing is the following sample:

Dear pseudolinguists with quasipolitical ambitions, somebody, most likely this
spamming list’s (as opposed to mailing list) moderator, has subscribed me to this weird
forum. I can set my mailer to selectively delete the Slovio postings while still on the
server, I do, however, wish to be removed from the member database in the same way I
was put in since the regural [sic] way of unsubscribing for Yahoo Groups simply does
not work here. I would like to point out that, besides this method of ‘recruitment’ being
against good manners, good taste, and ‘netiquette’, it is also violation of several Yahoo
Groups rules and as such it might lead to taking a legal action against the
perpetrators.92

Furthermore, the majority of the active participants appear to be interested in politics
only, and never participate in discussions about the language. As a result, most posts to
the group are completely unrelated to Slovio, while most of the remaining posts discuss
it on a very abstract level, in terms of how simple it should be, how it should be promo-
ted and what role it should fulfill. Every once in a while, a new subscriber expresses his
interest in Slovio and then disappears. Posts about linguistic details and posts written in
Slovio are extremely rare. All in all, it appears that the group has no more than 5-6
members with a genuine interest in Slovio and one or two dozens of interested
bystanders.

Berger also uses this mailing list as a source of information about the “demographics” of
the Slovio community:

Even though it is unclear how large the group of Slovio users and of “World Slavic
Congress” supporters really is, an analysis of those names that contribute to the
mailing list demonstrates that we are basically dealing with Slavs who are scattered
across the world as emigrants, rarely with inhabitants of Slavic countries and only in
exceptional cases with non-Slavs who “sympathize” with the Slavic cause. This would
also explain that the primary language of communication is English.93

Whereas the mailing list has clearly been manipulated with to bump up the statistics, the
same cannot be said about the “Blognik” forum, which was founded in February 2002.94
Until March 2006 it was practically silent, but after that the forum became a very active
place, much more so than the mailing list. Berger describes it as a place

91 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/folkspraak/
92 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SLOVIO/message/123
93 Berger (2009), p. 318
94 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/page-30

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

21

[…] which is constantly joined by new people who, mostly in English, less in Slovio and
in Slavic languages, participate in the debate. In this context it should be noted that
Hučko himself rarely makes his appearance, although it is hard to tell if he really does
not participate in the debates or possibly under a pseudonym.95

[…] where both political and linguistic subjects are discussed to the same degree. There
is a recognizable effort to write in Slovio as much as possible, but English inquiries and
contributions in Slavic languages (especially Slovak and Polish) can be found as well. 96

What Berger must have overlooked is that the Blognik forum does not have a list of
members or subscribers, and that everyone – registered or not – can post messages
anonymously or under any nickname. This makes it extremely hard to tell how
populated the forum really is or was. It is true that Hučko rarely participates under his
own name, but in terms of style and content a lot of messages written under a variety of
pseudonyms97 are undeniably Hučko’s work. Virtually all threads after 2009 are attacks
against projects like Slovianski and Slovioski, in periods when he did the same thing
elsewhere, too. As soon as Hučko became inactive, all forum activity died out instantly.
There has not been a single post after 2011.

For the rest, what goes for the mailing list goes for the forum as well: most contributions
are not related to Slovio at all, and whenever they are, they deal with it in the same
abstract way. Posts in Slovio occur more frequently, but can still be traced back to four,
five people at most.

Smaller Slovio groups exist as well, but they are even less helpful in establishing the
number of Slovio users. A second mailing list, called Dievju Slovio, has only 8 members
and 24 posts spread over the years 2009-2011.98 A new Slovio forum was created in
2010, but except for a few cross posts that can be found on Blognik as well, it never took
off.99 At last, there are no less than three Google Groups100 and two Facebook Groups,101
all of them practically inactive.

A last source of potential Slovio users could be the aforementioned Slovio klubis that
people are encouraged to start, but there is no evidence that any such club has ever
existed. Their presence on the Slovio page is either an expression of wishful thinking on
the part of its author or part of the illusion he is trying to build.

All in all, we can safely conclude that reports about Slovio having a large speaker
community are gravely exaggerated. At its peak (around 2004-2006) there may have
been 10 to 15 users, perhaps even 20, but nothing even remotely close to the thousands

95 Berger (2009), p. 316
96 ibidem, p. 314
97 “Slovio.com”, “Zvestia.com”, “Teacher”, “Dusxan”, “Slovio user”, “100% Slavian”, “K.”, “Babusxka”, “Slavo”, “Peter” and many others
98 http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/dievju_slovio/
99 http://slovio.maxforum.org
100 http://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/slovio, http://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/slovio-
jazika, http://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/teachers-of-slovio
101 http://www.facebook.com/pages/SLOVIO-Universal-Simplified-Slavic-Language/111365465570614,
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Slovio/129167057121366

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

22

Hučko has tried to make us believe. Meyer comes to a similar conclusion, estimating the
number of speakers at “a handful”.102 In more recent years the number has dwindled,
and during the last four years there has hardly been any Slovio activity at all.

d) Dictionary size

Numbers play an important role in Slovio propaganda, and the size of its dictionary is no
exception. Most Wikipedia articles mention something about the number of words
contained in the Slovio dictionary, an Excel file with currently ca. 65,000 entries. “More
than some of the ‘natural’ languages”, says the main page. However, thorough analysis of
the file yields the following results:

 thousands of (English) words are not translated into Slovio at all
 thousands of entries refer to internet domains, languages, geographic entities, inhabi-
tants of countries (male, female and gender-neutral), corresponding adjectives, etc.
 the plural of practically every noun is given as a separate entry, even though plurals

are always formed regularly

 likewise, many verb forms (for example, past tenses) are given as separate entries
 it contains lots of doublets and endless numbers of synonyms: when six English

words can be used to translate one Slovio word, it is listed six times

 a lot of nouns are also given as adjectives (just by adding -ju), which often results in

very strange words

 it contains numerous sentences, expressions and nonsense words like Europju

banan-soiuz.

In other words, the dictionary is stuffed with redundant entries that no “real” dictionary
would ever include. If we remove these, we can conclude that Slovio’s actual word stock
is somewhere in the range between 10,000 and 15,000. Still a respectable number, and
definitely enough for a functional language – but not quite as impressive.

5. Slovio and politics

Apart from the questions of where Slovio is used and by whom, there is yet another
question to be answered: namely, what is it used for? Slovio has been used surprisingly
little in direct, human interaction on its various meeting places. The only person who
has written messages about everyday matters in Slovio with some frequency is a user
who goes under the pseudonym “Eugeniusx” and whose real identity appears to be
Eugeniusz Słowik, a Polish-born citizen of Germany. Even Hučko himself does not use
Slovio much for small-talk. Therefore the primary places where Slovio is used are
Hučko’s many websites.

Analyzing the Slovio pages, Berger notices a clear difference between the way Slovio and
English are used:

102 Meyer, p. 291.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

23

Programmatic texts on the website can also be found in English. They are different
from those in Slovio. The English texts are geared rather towards the utilitarian. They
argue about the use of a commonly understood language, delimit Slovio from
Esperanto […] and are supplemented with fan mail from all around the world. The
Slovio texts, on the other hand, tend to be more ideological in nature.103

The latter reflect Hučko’s dissatisfaction about the splintering of the Slavic languages
and the disadvantages of the digital age for Slavic communication. He blames Microsoft
for leaving the Slavs with no other option than to learn non-Slavic languages, thus
forcing “modern Slavs to create a new, simple and universal Slavic language”.104 Among
the sample texts, most of which are typical textbook material, short poems and jokes,
Berger points to a text (in Slovio only) about a new Pan-Slavic flag.105 These ideas are
not particularly radical, but they do give a hint at Hučko’s affiliations. Suggesting that
these fragments in Slovio act like hidden messages would go too far, but it is undeniably
true that Westerners are addressed differently than Slavs. For English texts about
Hučko’s ideas we have to look elsewhere, for example on Galaktia.com:

It’s an undisputed historical fact that the current day Europeans (sometimes called
Indo-Europeans) are all descendants of the Danubian Slavs (sometimes called the
Danubian Forest People). Equally, it is an undisputed fact that all European Languages
originate from the same common language, the language of the Danubian Slavs.106

Berger is right in his assessment that the most radical expressions are well-hidden and
often in Slovio only. The best example of this is Zvestia.com, a news site in Slovio that
has been online since 2003, and one of the very few sites that Hučko has been updating
on a regular basis for years. The site promises obiektivju i neutralju raportenie, but many
items represent a clearly Slavic-nationalistic point of view:

2008-07-30, sredek. Poskroz masaju protestis, prosxlju nocx Serbju marionetju guverie
transportil Radovan Karagxicx v Haaguf. V Haag jeg ocxekajt sudenie ot rasistju proti-
Slaviansk tribunal ktor svobodil Albanju zlocxinitelis i ktor otvergil lecxarju pomoc dla
Slobodan Milosxevicx. Sleditelis ocxekajut zxe skorue ili pozduo tozx Karagxicx bu
umirat v Haag.107

Sometimes this point of view also has an anti-Semitic undercurrent:

2007-02-06. Poskroz masaju protestis i protistanie Cxehju populaciaf bilju Cxehju
prezident i zagrancju marionetnik, Vaclav Havel, podporijt mestovenie USA-ju proti-
raketju radar-stanciaf v Cxehia. Havelvoi religia es judaistju.108

103 Berger (2009), pp. 312-313.
104 Slovio.com
105 Berger (2009), p. 313.
106 http://www.galaktia.com/historia/index.html?
107 “2008/07/30, Wednesday. In spite of mass protests, Serbia’s puppet government has transported Radovan Karadžić to The Hague
last night. What awaits him in The Hague is a sentence by the racist, anti-Slavic tribunal that sets Albanian criminals free and refused
Slobodan Milošević medical assistance. Observers expect that sooner or later Karadžić will die in The Hague.“
108 “2007/02/06. In spite of mass protests and the protests of the Czech population, the former Czech president and foreign puppet
Vaclav Havel supports the placement of an American anti-missile radar station in the Czech Republic. Havel’s religion is Jewish.“
http://www.zvestia.com/index2007.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

24

The last item ever added to Zvestia.com to date is not only a clear expression of anti-
Semitism, it also demonstrates Hučko’s preference for conspiracy theories:

2010-09-11, subotek. Tut den vset pomnijt dev-rocxis ot razborenie om Nov-Jorkju
Vsetju-Torgju-Centr. Kto sposobil VTC-masakr? Judaistju torgnik Larry Silverstein
zakupil VTC tolk neskolk den pred toi razborenie i podpisal svezxju strahovka proti
‘terorizm’. Soglosuo s cxisloju analiznikis VTC ne bil razborilju ot musulmnikju
teroristis no ot Silverstein, posred razbor-bombis. Usled razborenie om VTC i jegoi
svezxju strahovkas Larry Silverstein profitil okol piat gigalion dolaris. Razborenie om
VTC bil upotrebitju ot jegoi koleg Gxorgx Busx takak vimolvka dla napadenie Irakuf i
Afganzemuf. Nektor analiznikis utverdijut zxe mezxu bolsx cxem tri tisicx zxertvas ktor
umirali vo VTC bili nikai zxidis.109

Even more extreme is the Blognik forum, where most discussions are soaked with Slavic
nationalism, anti-Semitism and racial hatred. The most extreme posts here are not in
Slovio and it is hard to prove that Hučko wrote any of them himself, but he has never
used his authority as a group owner to put a halt to it either – which is all the more
remarkable, since messages criticizing Slovio or defending other projects were often
deleted almost instantly and their authors blocked.

6. Slovio and other projects

Under the header “Plagiarism and copyright violations” at the very bottom of Slovio’s
main page, we find a fragment that is oddly out of tune with the rest of the page, namely
a threat that addresses “several Slovio-clones which clearly plagiarize and violate the
copyrights of Slovio creator Mr. Mark Hucko”. Their authors are informed that “financial
compensation and criminal charges will be sought without exception!” because:

An efficient inter-Slavic communication needs one language and not the confusion
created by numerous plagiarized clones! 110

It is not difficult to guess that there is a long and complicated story behind this. Hučko’s
relationship with other Interslavic projects is troublesome, and this fragment is just the
tip of the iceberg.

Various elements of Slovio propaganda have already been discussed, but one epithet has
not been mentioned yet: Slovio is “the first Pan-Slavic language”. In reality, the first Pan-
Slavic language was described in 1666 by Juraj Križanić, and many others had followed
his example long before Slovio was conceived.111 Hučko must have been aware of this,
since his links page contains a section titled “Historical attempts to create a simplified

109 “2010/09/11, Saturday. Today the world commemorates the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New
York. Who caused the WTC-massacre? The Jewish businessman Larry Silverstein bought the WTC only a few days before this
destruction, and signed a fresh insurance policy against ‘terrorism’. According to numerous analysts, the WTC was not destroyed by
Muslim terrorists, but by Silverstein by means of destruction bombs. As a result of the destruction of the WTC and his fresh insurance
policy, Larry Silverstein gained a profit of some five billion dollars. The destruction of the WTC was needed by his friend George Bush
as a pretext for attacking Iraq and Afghanistan. Several analysts confirm that among the more than three thousand victims who died in
the WTC, there were no Jews at all.“
110 http://www.slovio.com/
111 http://steen.free.fr/interslavic/constructed_slavic_languages.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

25

Slavic language” with bibliographical data about projects by Jan Herkeľ, Ignác Hošek and
Edmund Kolkop.112 His opinion about these projects is not very positive:

Some of you want to pretend that there have been other interslavic languages before
or after slovio. Show me one, that had complete grammar and at least a 10-thousand
word vocabulary. NOTHING. Because all those «other languages» you talk about and
pretend have been before (or after) slovio have only a NAME, a grammar, sometimes
not even that, and a few hundred word vocabulary. That does not qualify as a lan-
guage, it qualifies only as an «ATTEMPT». Nothing more. The long list of «languages»
Jan put on his website are nothing – they are just to distort facts and confuse history.
To minimize the importance of Slovio in Slavic linguistics and history. To pretend that
there have been other VIABLE inter-slavic languages…113

It is unlikely that Hučko has ever studied any of the historical attempts at a Pan-Slavic
language. One thing he neglects completely is that their authors did not consider their
projects artificial languages at all, but merely proposals for formalizing an already
existing language. Their (sometimes very elaborate) grammars did not include
dictionaries, but they did provide tools for deriving words from Slavic languages. And
the absence of a dictionary certainly did not stop them from publishing entire books or
magazines in their form of Interslavic.

On the other hand, Hučko is surprisingly mild about three projects that appeared in the
same period when Slovio was published: Slovo by Stefan Vitezslav Pilát, Glagolica by
Richard Ruibar, and Proslava by Juraj Doudi. Comparing Slovo with Slovio, he writes:

On the other hand, Slovo follows another philosophy. It’s [sic] aim is the creation of a
universal Slavic language with all the usual complexities of grammar, accents, spelling
and pronounciation. Slovo emphasizes its origin from and its similarity to the original
pan-slavic language. Its main goal is the simplification of the communication between
Slavic speakers and to a lesser extent between the speakers of other languages.
Proslava is somewhere between Slovio and Slovo. The basic vocabularies of Slovio,
Slovo and Proslava, just like those of the other Slavic languages, are very similar, and
these 3 variants of the pan-slavic language are mutually intelligible.114

Hučko’s friendly relationship with these projects is also demonstrated by the fact that
both Ruibar and the three people who worked on Slovo are credited as co-developers of
Slovio.115 Even when the Slovo project had disappeared from the net, he wrote about it
(this time referring to it as “Slovjensxcxina”):

The last we have seen the project his work was very rudimentary and had a long way
to a complete language. However we wish him and others success.116

Hučko’s attitude is very different towards projects that were initiated after 2002/2003.
The authors of Slovo, Glagolica and Proslava had apparently given up on their projects,
and thus Slovio had become the only active Pan-Slavic language project on the Internet.

112 http://www.slovio.com/links.html
113 http://s8.zetaboards.com/Slovianski/topic/8264425/1/
114 http://www.panslavia.com/jazika/
115 http://www.slovio.com/summary.html
116 http://www.slovio.com/1/0.voprosis/index.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

26

Slovio was being discussed on many mailing lists and blogs, and especially after 2004 it
spawned some genuine interest from outsiders, including the media. Whereas the
“Slovio movement” had previously consisted of Pan-Slavists in émigré circles, people
with a rather limited interest in linguistics, Slovio also started attracting the interest of
linguists and people in the Slavic countries themselves. It must have been in this period
that Hučko came to believe that “Slovio” and “Pan-Slavic language” were synonyms.

Along with this growing interest in Slovio, there was an increasing dissatisfaction about
some of the choices Hučko had made. People disliked its artificiality, and various issues,
like sx zx cx, truncated nouns, plurals on -is and the Russian character of the word
stock, were brought up again and again. Revisions were suggested, reforms were propo-
sed, and in December 2005 a new Slavic-based project was launched under the name
Slavido (later renamed Sloviensk). Hučko must have felt threatened by all the criticism,
but instead of complying with any of the demands, he categorically refused to take them
into consideration and started attacking those who disagreed with him instead:

Problem that you guys have is that you don’t want to accept the only all-slavic
language SLOVIO, the only such common language since our languages have separated
into various Slavic dialects. And that is a problem we Slavs have: we cannot accept
unity, we cannot work together, we must work against each other. This kind of
discussions and speculations [sic] that you have nove [sic] have been discussed over
the past 6 years, but you don’t know about it, because you never thought of a common
Slavic language until someone else has done it.117

Against such background, several participants of the Blognik forum started pondering
the possibility of a new, less artificial Pan-Slavic project that would be based on Slavic
material only. One of them, Gabriel Svoboda, wrote:

I am glad that I am not the only one to find Slovio too artificial and unnatural. The -(i)s
and -(u)f endings don’t contribute [to] its beauty and euphony (and Slavicity) at all …
In fact, I am going to construct my own pan-Slavic language (with plurals in -i as a
matter of course). I have many times suggested some improvements for Slovio but none
of them was accepted.118

Subsequently he and a few other members of the forum started sharing thoughts about
an alternative type of language, which would soon be known as Slovianski.119 On 25
March 2006, a separate forum was created, which by October of the same year had 234
registered users and a total of 2649 messages.120 Unlike Slovio, Slovianski has been a
collaborative project from the beginning, and initially it was developed in three versions,
a naturalistic, a pidgin-like and a schematic form. The purpose was the creation of a
simple language with a Slavic grammar without artificial elements, in which all branches
of Slavic would be represented equally.

117 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1143089247/slavianska+gramatika
118 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1142488118/Serbs%2C+Slavs+and+Slovio
119 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1143189201/Slovianski+Jazik
120 http://web.archive.org/web/20061027112119/http://slovianski.com/forum/index.php?sid=aa128279ca9ce87453c853c4d8a1928d

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

27

In the following years, several attempts have been made to reconcile Slovio and
Slovianski. The first was Rozumio, proposed in November 2008 by a Russian student
with the username Hellerick, who had previously proposed reforms in Slovio:

Rozumio is not a language, but rather an attempt to bring together two Slavic
auxiliary conlangs Slovio and Slovianski. The language is based on Slovio, and yet can
be considered a kind of Slovianski in its primitive form.121

In February 2009, one of the most active Slovio users, Steeven Radzikowski, launched a
new collaborative project for bringing together Slovio and Slovianski, first under the
name Slavju Slovio (“Slavic Slovio”) but shortly after under the name Slovioski. Much
like Rozumio, Slovioski was an “expansion and amplification of the universal simplified
Slavonic oriented constructed language called Slovio”, meant to provide “a more ‘Slavic’
sounding and acting language than Slovio”.122 Unlike Rozumio, however, it gradually
developed into a separate language project, taking more and more distance from Slovio
proper. In January 2010, it officially abandoned the Slovio dictionary.123 During the
course of 2010 and 2011, the naturalistic element in both Slovianski and Slovioski
prevailed, and ultimately both projects merged into Medžuslovjanski (“Interslavic”). In
2010, this project was expanded with a simplified form of Slovianski, called
Slovianto.124

At last, also in 2010, a Czech computer scientist, Vojtěch Merunka, published a
modernized
form of Old Church Slavonic under the name Novoslovienskij
(“Neoslavonic”). Since 2011, this language has been part of the Interslavic project as
well, sharing one community, a common dictionary,125 a news portal126 and a wiki.127

Hučko’s attitude towards Slovianski and Slovioski has been extremely hostile from the
beginning, accusing their authors of plagiarism and ridiculing their naturalistic features:

How many words [sic] does have the «Slovianski» vocabulary? two hundred? three
hundred? Where are they? does it use purely ASCII spelling? How many genders does it
have? Male, Female, Transvestite, Homosexual, Lesbian … genders? Does it have a
regular grammar or thousands of exceptions? I think I will learn either SLOVIO or
RUSSIAN but not a miscarriage like your copy-cat language.128

In addition, the creators of Slovianski were accused of being “jealous balkanizers”,
whose sole purpose was undermining Slavic unity:

It has become obvious to me that on this website there is a very vocal «plagiatnik» who
rejects and hates the simplicity and easy understanding of Slovio, and even hates
Slovio, just because it wasn’t his idea. […] Furthermore, he will do everything in his
power to divide Slavs even further, into West, East, South, into Diaspornikis and ne-

121 http://conlang.wikia.com/wiki/Rozumio
122 http://slovioski.wikia.com/wiki/INTERSLAVIC?oldid=4208
123 http://slovioski.wikia.com/wiki/INTERSLAVIC?oldid=4662
124 http://steen.free.fr/interslavic/slovianto.html
125 http://dict.interslavic.com/
126 http://izviestija.info/
127 http://isv.wikinet.org
128 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1225570924/Slavic+Interlingua

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

28

Diaspornikis, and divide, divide, divide… Just like happenned [sic] in the Balkans. In
short: plagiatnik, zavistnik, balkaniznik. His stupid and complicated copy-cat pseudo-
«language» makes absolutely no sense to me, and I believe to nobody else except
himself.129

After a wave of media attention for Slovianski in February 2010, these attacks turned
into a true hate campaign against the people who worked on Slovianski, Slovioski and
Novoslovienskij, which included personal threats, insults and conspiracy theories about
their true identity or nationality, often with a blatantly anti-Semitic undercurrent.130
Later that year, Hučko opened YouTube channels and purchased Internet domains
under names like Slovianski, Interslavic, Slovianto, Neoslavonic and Novoslovianski,
all with the obvious purpose of discrediting these projects, promoting Slovio under their
names and winning the “Google war”.131 In response, a Memorandum of the Interslavic
community about Slovio, Slovianski and Neoslavonic was issued in September 2011:

These pages are completely unrelated to our projects, and what they contain is either a
mix of plagiarism, parody and hatred, or modifications of Slovio presented under new
names similar to ours. Obviously, the purpose is to confuse potentially interested
people. Mr. Hučko’s writings make it more than clear that he considers himself to be
the exclusive owner of the entire concept of Interslavic, and that he holds us personally
responsible for the failure of his own project. Other projects are consistently referred to
as «plagiarized Slovio clones» or «useless copy-cat languages». We want to stress that
the information contained on the aforementioned and other pages is patently and
deliberately false. Our projects do not use Slovio material. Any coincidences are the
logical result of both projects being based on the same Slavic source material.132

Paradoxically, Hučko also claims the credits for Slovianski’s success, stating that

Slovianski was created on SLOVIO websites, from SLOVIO, with the support of Mr Mark
Hucko, and with the help and guidance of Mr Mark Hucko.133

In reality, Hučko never provided any support, nor did he ever produce any actual
evidence for his assertion that other Interslavic projects are Slovio dialects or clones,
except for the argument that Slovianski and Slovioski were initiated on “Slovio-
sponsored forums”.134

All the more remarkable is the fact that Hučko’s list of Slovio clones mentions only one
project that is really based on Slovio, namely Inter-Slavju Pidzxin (Inter-Slavic Pidgin,
ISP), a project by the aforementioned Eugeniusz Słowik, who always made it clear that

129 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1176007935/Diaspora
130 http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1288176711/Is+Steeven+Radzikowski+a+fake-,
http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1266825306/STEENBERGEN+thinks+Slavs+are+idiots,
http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1267896964/Slovianski+es+mertvju.,
http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1265140532/ON+BEZSTIDJU+PRODALA+ONAI+TELO+KO+INUOZEMNIKU%21,
http://www.network54.com/Forum/183880/thread/1265231191/ANNA+RENATA+NOWAK+ARHIV+FOTO
131 Interslav.com, Interslavic.org, Interslavonic.com, Neoslavonic.com, Novoslovianski.com, Slovianski.eu, Slovianto.com
132 http://izviestija.info/memorandum-ix-2011.html
133 http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=22010&PN=38&TPN=5
134 http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diskuse:Slovianski

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

29

his version is merely a more naturalistic adaptation of Slovio.135 Not mentioned at all are
Rozumio and two other projects that were openly based on Slovio:

 Ruslavsk, created in 2003 by the Italian-Greek psychologist Lorenzo Manasci, an
attempt to make Slovio more similar to Russian.
later renamed
Medzxuslavske and its goal redefined as “to complement Slovio with a literary and
poetic tool”.136 It does not use the ending -uf, but instead it introduces a genitive with
the ending -ga in the singular (for all genders) and -jev in the plural. Adjectives end in
-e or -ne.137

It was

 Interslovio, launched in September 2011 by long-time Slovio user Dorothea
Winkelhofer. It replaces cx sx zx with cz sz zh and forms the plural with -i, but for the
rest it stays very close to Slovio.138

7. The end of Slovio

Nowadays both Interslavic projects (Slovianski and Neoslavonic) have a flourishing
community with hundreds of users, which demonstrates that the potential for a
successful Pan-Slavic language is huge. Slovio never even came close to realizing this
potential, even before it had any competitors. Neither the propaganda on Slovio.com,
nor Slovio’s well-established presence on resources like Wikipedia, nor the confusion
Hučko has attempted to create with other projects has caused a significant growth of the
Slovio community. On the contrary, after Slovio lost its monopoly position, the number
of Slovio users and supporters has been steadily decreasing, to the point that it has not
been used at all since the beginning of 2011. Slovio’s most ardent supporters have either
fallen silent or started their own projects, and at last, even Hučko himself seems to have
lost interest in Slovio. Slovio.com and several other Slovio sites are still online but
haven’t been updated for a long time now.139 One might wonder how this failure can be
explained.

The principle weakness of Slovio is that, instead of consistently adhering to one clearly
defined concept, it tries to be a global auxiliary language and a Pan-Slavic language in
one. The result is a language that contains elements of both directions, but effectively
fails on both accounts. Slovio never managed to appeal to auxlang enthusiasts for the
simple reason that it is too Slavic, whereas Slavs could not accept it because of its
artificial character and the abundance of non-Slavic elements in it.

The true nature of Interslavic, or Pan-Slavic, is that it is not a system of rigid rules, but a
set of features that define its relationship with any of the living Slavic languages. This
requires an entirely different type of learning than what Slovio requires, namely

135 http://www.novoslovianski.com/index.html#ISP
136 http://web.archive.org/web/20040323053715/http://www.slovio.com/ruslavsk/
137 Berger (2004), p. 23.
138 http://interslovio.wordpress.com/
139 According to Meyer, the last time when Slovio.com was updated was in October 2010. Meyer, p. 328.

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

30

learning to recognize these relationships and use them, which more than anything is a
matter of reading. A member of the Slavic Unity form writes:

The simplicity of Slovio has not increased its popularity with the public. Why? Because
learning something is a lot harder than learning nothing. Learning by naturally
listening and figuring out the vocabulary of other Slavic languages is also easier than
studying deliberately. […] More so, for there to be an interest in something, there has to
be a demand. Since very few materials are out there in Slovio, or any other Inter-Slavic
language, there is nothing to really read.140

While it is not true that there is nothing to read in Slovio at all, there is clearly a lack of
reading materials that are attractive for newcomers. Most Slovio texts can be found
among the news messages on Zvestia.com, which are old news by now. Apart from
those, all we have are Hučko’s bilingual pages on fringe science and the text samples on
the Slovio pages, which indeed are just text samples. For the rest, Slovio has rarely been
used for anything else but for promoting Slovio.

On a related note, the Slovio website is particularly unfavorable to potential learners. As
Meyer points out, information is scattered over many different places, the main page is
chockfull and chaotic, and links are not easy to find; it requires quite some discipline and
motivation on the part of the reader to work his way through it. In addition, except for a
number of tutorial videos about basic vocabulary, didactic materials (with exercises and
the like) are unavailable.141

What definitely plays a role is that there has never been a place where people willing to
learn Slovio could practice. The most logical place for that would undoubtedly have been
the Blognik forum, but before 2006 there was hardly any activity there (less than 150
messages in four years). After that, discussions were mostly about Slovianski and other
projects in an atmosphere dominated by flame wars, personal attacks and racial hatred.
Not surprisingly, newcomers usually disappeared after their first post, never to return.

At last, an important factor has undoubtedly been the personality of Slovio creator Mark
Hučko himself, who failed to understand that once a constructed language starts being
used by others, its original creator ceases to be its exclusive owner. When Slovio had a
small community of users and supporters, it would have been no more than natural for
Slovio to develop; in fact, such development would have been proof of its vitality. Hučko,
however, perceived all criticism as attacks against the Slavs and efforts to undermine his
authority. He never adopted a single suggestion, never even worked on a compromise,
and more than once chose to attack the persons who had made them instead, calling
them “traitors” or “anti-Slavic perpetrators”. In 2010 he finally launched a page called
Open Slovio, inviting people to write Slovio any way they want to, as well as to submit
ideas for improvement.142 That invitation clearly came too late though, because Slovio
was already a dying project by then. One might also wonder how genuine it was, since

140 http://slavic-unity.com/discussion/3709/why-an-interslavic-language-must-be-simple/p1
141 Meyer, p. 251, 279-280.
142 http://www.slovio.com/open-slovio/index.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

31

similar statements made in the past had never had any effect at all. Besides, the concept
of “flexible grammar” had already been introduced in 2006, although it was little more
than offering the possibility of replacing artificial elements with other, equally artificial
options.143

Thus, at critical moments in Slovio’s history, Hučko isolated himself from his potential
user community by treating Slovio as his private property. From this point of view there
is a striking similarity with Johann Martin Schleyer, the creator of the aforementioned
Volapük, whose autocratic behavior and proprietary attitude ultimately caused the
demise of this once-successful language. If Hučko had listened to the wishes of his users,
Slovianski and Slovioski would probably never have been created, and Slovio might still
have been a major player in the field. In fact, years later he could still have saved Slovio
by seeking cooperation instead of blaming others for his own failure. But his firm belief
in his own genius and his inability to build a community always prevailed, inevitably
leading to the failure of the project. The fact that all this happened in spite of the
numerous myths about Slovio that have been discussed in this article only shows that
any true, sustainable success can never be built on a foundation of lies and deception.

143 http://web.archive.org/web/20061017095557/http://www.slovio.com/1/0.slovio/index.html

© Jan van Steenbergen. All rights reserved.

32The Slovio Myth image

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