General Question

travelbabe24's avatar

Is the term "Slavic" insulting?

Asked by travelbabe24 (262points) February 10th, 2016 from iPhone

I’m just wondering. Today I met someone who is from Croatia and they were teaching me some Croatian words. I then said “wow! Slavic languages are so difficult!” The person then got real quiet, almost as if I have insulted them. But I didn’t mean to if I did!

So should one avoid to use the term Slavic? Is it a slur? Or insulting?


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7 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

Why don’t you ask them, rather than us, if you somehow offended them?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Croats are classified as South Slavs. It’s not an insult to refer to Croatia as Slavic; it’s accurate.

If you believe that the person was somehow offended, here are a couple of thoughts. First, the Slavic ethnic groups are culturally diverse, often with hostile feelings between and among them, so the individual might not like being painted with a broad brush. Second, the person might have mistaken your “difficult” comment as a negative remark about his/her native language.

@Darth_Algar‘s right; please ask the individual. Most people appreciate knowing when other human beings actually care about and are sensitive to their feelings.

zenvelo's avatar

To us in the US, Slavic does not carry a denigrating sense. Yet a Croat is from part of the former Yugoslavia, in which there were deep divides created between ethnic groups 25 years ago, and a brutal civil war with attempts to exterminate populations through ethnic cleansing.

So be mindful that someone who is not a native English speaker might be leery of being lumped together with other groups.

Buttonstc's avatar

AFAIK the term Slavic is simply a designation of a language group.

So, there are two possibilities here about why your friend was so quiet. The first possibility is that his quietness is simply your over thinking this and had nothing to do with your comment. There are dozens of other reasons why he may have been quiet, not th e least of which being that he simply didn’t have anything further to say and isn’t the type to make inane small talk.

The second possibility is that your perception is accurate regarding the quietness. But it may well be due to the reasons cited by others above.

Really, the only person who can give you an accurate answer to your question is your friend himself. We have no idea what was in his head.

Ask him directly. He won’t mind you showing concern for his feelings. And you’ll get an ACCURATE answer since he’s really the only one who can tell you what’s going on inside his head.

And his answer might surprise you. And you will have learned something important regarding your friend.

ibstubro's avatar

Depending on how fluent they are in English, they might have simply been “at a loss for words” to reply as they wished.

Generally in life you’ll find that an awkward moment is best dealt with immediately and directly. A little charm can go a long way.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Though recent history proves it eventually will be.

Paradox25's avatar

My family’s history on both my mother’s and father’s side consists of various Slavic ethnicities. My grandparents and great grandparents spoke broken English, and they would frequently refer to themselves as Slavic.

However, from reading between the lines I’d always suspected there was a bit of ethnic pride at work here. Some people believe their ethnicities are more superior to others, and throughout history many of these different Slavic countries were at war with each other, and have oppressed each other to some degree. To this day there’s still some animosity between many Slavs, kind of like with many Asians.

Technically, you were correct by using the term ‘Slavic’ in that situation. However, it’s possible there’s some animosity here concerning your acquaintance since the term Slavic is vague, and could mean something different to them. I also suspect your acquaintance will probably not be entirely honest with you even if you ask them judging by the details here. I’d simply go with the flow on this one.

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