In World War Two the Chief of the Civil Administration of Lower Styria, Dr Siegfried Uiberreither, turned down a request by the Bishop of Lavant, Ivan Tomažič, for both German and Slovene to be permitted in churches.

"The Bishop pointed out that German was already used everywhere where the German minority lived (Maribor, Celje and Ptuj) and suggested that at least for a transition period both languages be permitted. But Uiberreither was convinced that Slovenes in Lower Styria did not exist. Too clearly he said: 'The German Reich doesn’t need those, who do not feel as Germans. They can find their place in Carniola, Croatia, Serbia...' Tomažič’s intervention with the Gestapo commander was also unsuccessful."

According to Damjan Hančič and Renato Podbersič in their contribution to "Crimes Committed By Totalitarian Regimes" edited by Peter Jambrek and published by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2008:

"The goal of Nazi politics in occupied Slovene territory was obvious: the ultimate elimination of the Slovene language from the territory and the disappearance of Slovenes as an independent ethnic group." [


The acquisition of language is a complex neurological phenomenon. Neurological observation in studies of language ability has awaited the advent of tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Electro- and Magneto-encephalography (EEG+MEG).

Kisilevsky et al. (2009) presented fetuses with two speech recordings to test whether they are sensitive to a change in speech from English (a stress-timed language) to Chinese (often argued to be a syllable-timed language), as compared to when they were presented with two English recordings. [

Language acquisition starts in the womb - specifically the rhythm and melody of the language. [
fMRI neuroimaging work looking at how the brain addresses the music of language as opposed to the information decoding shows:

"Although the patient literature historically pointed to an important role for the right hemisphere in affective prosody perception, the results were more ambiguous for sentence melody processing; however, there was evidence for a specific preference of the right hemisphere for certain acoustic cues (e.g., F0 contours) whereas the left hemisphere was more concerned with the processing of discernible linguistic information (Baum & Pell, 1999). In later neuroimaging work, Meyer, Alter, Friederici, Lohmann, and von Cramon (2002) presented normal sentences, "syntactic" sentences (where content words were replaced with pseudowords), and filtered speech preserving only prosodic cues. They observed that, whereas left superior temporal regions responded more strongly to the sentences in fMRI, the right temporal lobe preferentially responded to sentence melody alone. Studies using tonal languages (e.g., Mandarin) developed this finding, observing an overall preference for prosodic cues in the right hemisphere for native and nonnative speakers, but a left hemisphere sensitivity to linguistically relevant tonal information in the native group only (Tong et al., 2005; Gandour et al., 2004)." [

Slovenia had no reasonable expectation any Anglophone immigrant would have been accustomed from the third trimester of their mother's pregnancy to the Slovenian zlogovna prozodija - which is comparable to that of Chinese.

The Complainant first heard Slovene at the age of 47. Is it easier or harder for a 47-year old adult to pick up zlogovna prozodija, compared to a fetus or a toddler?
At that age, would it be easier to go from zlogovna to besedna prozodija or from besedna to zlogovna prozodija, in your experience?
Before the Complainant  ever appeared, Slovenians would have easily understood from all their contacts with the outside world, the odds of foreigners being regularly exposed, fetally or otherwise, to their syllabic prosodies or melodies.

According to a study of 27,119 second language learners from 88 countries with 49 mother tongues:

"Female learners consistently outperformed male learners in speaking and writing proficiency in Dutch as a second language. This gender gap remained remarkably robust and constant when other learner characteristics were taken into account, such as education, age of arrival, length of residence and hours studying Dutch. For reading and listening skills in Dutch, no gender gap was found." [

The female advantage with language begins early. Table 1 at [
51] collects 66 studies. Only one detected superior male progress.

"In a recent review on gender and language, Wallentin (2020) reported three different hypotheses to explain putative language differences between genders: (a) strongly innate differences linked to genetic sex; (b) cultural differences linked to environmental asymmetries; and (c) interactions in which other differences influence linguistic skills. The first hypothesis, is supported by evidence that gender differences in language development depend on gender differences in terms of the timing and composition of the hormonal cascades during early gestation, and on the evidence that brain development in males is delayed with respect to females. These result in infant gender differences in left hemisphere maturity, and in the lateralization and organization of functions within the brain (Friederici et al., 2008). Nonetheless, several studies have failed to find gender-related differences in brain structure and function that are relevant to language development during childhood, and that might account for differences in language abilities. Conversely, when gender-related differences in brain structure and function are seen, they do not necessarily lead to differences in language test performances (Etchell et al., 2018)." [

The effect of age on second language acquisition is popularly underestimated. According to Scientific American:

"In one of the largest linguistics studies ever conducted — a viral internet survey that drew two thirds of a million respondents — researchers from three Boston-based universities showed children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly 10 years later than earlier estimates. But the study also showed that it is best to start by age 10 if you want to achieve the grammatical fluency of a native speaker.

"To parse this problem, the research team, which included psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard University, collected data on a person’s current age, language proficiency and time studying English. The investigators calculated they needed more than half a million people to make a fair estimate of when the 'critical period' for achieving the highest levels of grammatical fluency ends." [

The study had a sample of 669,498 native and non-native English speakers.

Describing the change in learning ability as "precipitous" beyond age 17-18, the authors list the possible variables influencing the superior language acquisition ability of children:

"superior neural plasticity, an earlier start that gives them additional years of learning, limitations in cognitive processing that prevent them from being distracted by irrelevant information, a lack of interference from a well-learned first language, a greater willingness to experiment and make errors, a greater desire to conform to their peers, or a greater likelihood of learning through immersion in a community of native speakers." [

If we didn't believe this already, we would wait until people were too old to go to work, before settling them down to learn languages, freeing up children to labour in the mines and factories.

We don't do this for a good reason: children are better at learning things than their grown-up selves.

The existence of declining ability with age is not in debate, only the modulating factors. It doesn't matter, because though not 19 or 18 when all this began, the Complainant was not discouraged or inclined to believe the advice of one moving-to-Slovenia website's advice about the language: "don't bother".

The word-music of Ptujščina is unlike any English prosody. The Complainant - who is not built for sustained shouting - recalls being at home listening uneasily to the sounds of a fight building up, out of sight outside: voices louder and louder, the air dark with intoxicated-sounding, escalatingly plosive exchanges, with women yelling out.

I peep out of the window to find a handful of unintoxicated, harmless, respectable-looking middle class people exchanging parting words and goodnights at the nearby road junction and no confrontation whatsoever.