About the Institute
The Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language (ISJFR) is the central Slovenian institution engaged in systematic observation of and research on Slovenian in all its manifestations and across all periods. The institute conducts various research and produces seminal lexicographic works related to Slovenian.
The institute has produced or produces the following:
- Various scholarly volumes and research articles;
- Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika, second edition (SSKJ; Standard Slovenian Dictionary), and the new electronic Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika (eSSKJ);
- The Slovenian normative guide (the current 2001 edition and the emerging electronic version, ePravopis);
- Sinonimni slovar slovenskega jezika (Slovenian Synonym Dictionary) and other general dictionaries;
- Slovenski lingvistični atlas (Slovenian Linguistic Atlas) and dialect dictionaries;
- Terminological dictionaries covering various disciplines;
- Historical dictionaries;
- Etymological dictionaries;
- Various databases and corpora;
- The ZRCola input system;
- Answers to user questions in the general and terminological online language advisory services.
Authoritative language manuals are available at the institute’s web portal Fran, which serves as an entry point for browsing over thirty-nine dictionaries, four corpora, various databases, and two online language advisory services with questions and answers.
The language advisory service is a webpage where answers are provided to questions about normative rules, grammar, lexicography, and other linguistic issues that the advisory service and the institute receive from general language users. The answers are provided by the institute's staff, and they are posted online after review by an eight-member editorial board.
The institute also operates a specialized website called Terminologišče for specialists in various fields as well as anyone else interested in terminology. The website provides access to terminological dictionaries and the Terminological Language Advisory Service, which deals with specific terminological issues, especially naming issues. It is administered by a five-member editorial board.
Fran also has a junior counterpart: the school dictionary and grammar portal Franček, which is primarily intended for primary- and secondary-school students and their teachers. This portal combines lexicographical information (on meanings, synonyms, forms, dialect expressions, pronunciation, origin, and the first attestation of a word in Slovenian), grammatical information, and information on genre, normative rules, teaching materials, and the Language Advisory Service for Teachers. Šolski slovar slovenskega jezika (Slovenian School Dictionary) for students up to fifth grade is also being compiled specifically for this portal.
The Institute’s Organization
Since October 2018, the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language has been headed by Kozma Ahačič. The institute has two deputy heads: Nataša Gliha Komac and Janoš Ježovnik. Its secretary is Alenka Lap.
Along with the Language Technology Development Center (JeTRCe), a language laboratory, and a library, six sections operate at the institute: for lexicology, normative issues, terminology, dialectology, etymology and onomastics, and language history.
The Language Technology Development Center (JeTRCe) connects all the sections and focuses on the uniform setup of language resources, digitization, archiving, legal issues, and the development of tools for studying Slovenian. It is headed by Mateja Jemec Tomazin.
The language laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment for studio and field audio recordings and sound processing facilitates the exploration of spoken language. It is headed by Tanja Mirtič.
The institute’s library contains over 26,000 items, including all the works that served as source material for Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika (Standard Slovenian Dictionary) and a wide range of linguistics periodicals. It is managed by Alenka Porenta, an independent technical advisor.
Publications and Other Works
Over 360 books have been published as part of the institute to date, including over forty dictionaries, twenty-two additions to the series Rastoči slovarji (Growing Dictionaries), forty volumes in the series Linguistica et philologica, nineteen volumes in the series Lingua Slovenica (including its sub-series Fontes, which features selected works by Slovenian linguists), two volumes of Slovenski lingvistični atlas (Slovenian Linguistic Atlas), and one volume in the series Jezikovni atlasi (Linguistic Atlases).
An Outline of the Institute’s History
The institute’s beginnings are connected with the activities of Fran Ramovš, who, as the central academic figure in Slovenian linguistics and the main specialist and organizational force at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (he was its secretary-general and chairman), fully applied his status and creative forces to ensure that seminal works on Slovenian started being systematically produced under the auspices of the academy.
It was to his credit that the tasks that the institute later performed—and still performs—were most frequently cited among the strongest arguments to found the academy. Among other things, the Slovenian linguistics program, which the academy’s founders sent to the Belgrade and Zagreb academies for consideration in the late 1920s, comprised over half of all its planned tasks.
The beginnings of the institute’s operation go back to late 1945. The academy acquired the legal basis for the establishment and operation of various scholarly and research units through the Provisional Decree on the Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana issued on September 6th, 1945, signed by Slovenian Prime Minister Boris Kidrič and Slovenian Minister of Education Ferdo Kozak. Thus, in line with this decree, on October 2nd, 1945, the working proposals were adopted at the general meeting of the academy, and the institute’s boards and committees were established for a standard Slovenian dictionary, linguistic atlas, topographic dictionary, dictionary of Slovenian surnames, and so on. Fran Ramovš already outlined the working plan for research on Slovenian on October 3rd, 1945, in the budget proposal for 1946. He then itemized, described, and substantiated this plan in detail in a letter to the minister of education of October 13th, 1945. Ramovš reported on the launch of Slovenian linguistics projects at the academy’s general meeting on December 21st, 1946.
Since 1981, the institute has been operated under the aegis of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts Research Center (ZRC SAZU). A major part of its operations were initially divided into five sections (for lexicology, terminology, dialectology, language history, and etymology and onomastics). In 2001, these were joined by the Slovenian Corpus Laboratory, which operated until 2017, a normative section and the Language Technology Center connecting the sections in 2018, and a state-of-the-art language laboratory in 2020.
The sections carry out pure research on all areas of Slovenian, and their most prominent result is a wide variety of authoritative lexicographic works. An important milestone in the institute’s operation was the introduction of the Fran web portal in 2014, which allowed even better presentation of its dictionaries and research and at the same time connected the institute even more closely with Slovenian language users. The institute was among the pioneers of digital lexicography in Europe: a digitized version of SSKJ was released on floppy disks as early as 1997, and the BOS web portal of corpora, lexicons, and tools was launched in 2000.
Team research is in the foreground at the institute. The work of individual sections is directed by their heads, who form the institute’s management together with the institute’s head and both deputy heads. The Research Council is responsible for the quality of research conducted at the institute. The institute’s heads to date have been as follows:
- Fran Ramovš (1945–1952)
- Ivan Grafenauer (1952–1958)
- Milan Grošelj (1958–1962)
- Bratko Kreft (1962–1982)
- Janko Jurančič (1982–1983)
- Franc Jakopin (1983–1989)
- Vladimir Nartnik (1989–1992)
- Varja Cvetko Orešnik (1992–2008)
- Marko Snoj (2008–2018)
- Kozma Ahačič (2018–)
The institute’s research methodology and its linguistic approach to lexicography are based on current linguistic research and international publications, effectively combining continuity and tradition with state-of-the-art research procedures. All of this contributes to the institute’s legacy and current status as the key center for research on Slovenian both in Slovenia and beyond.