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Slovak
slovenčina, slovenský jazyk
Spoken in Slovakia and as a minority language also in the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary etc.
Region Central Europe
Total speakers over 7 million
Ranking 106
Language family Indo-European
Official status
Official language in  European Union
 Slovakia
Flag of Vojvodina.svg Vojvodina in  Serbia

Recognised minority language in:
 Ukraine

Regulated by Slovak Academy of Sciences (The Ľudovít Štúr Linguistic Institute)
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sk
ISO 639-2 slo (B)  slk (T)
ISO 639-3 slk

The Slovak language (About this sound slovenský jazyk , slovenčina, not to be confused with slovenski jezik, slovenščina, or Slovenian), is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages (together with Czech, Polish, Silesian, Kashubian, and Sorbian).

Slovak is spoken in Slovakia (by 5 million people), also in the United States (500,000), the Czech Republic (320,000), Serbia (60,000), Ireland (30,000), Romania (22,000), Hungary (20,000), Poland (20,000), Canada (20,000), Croatia (5,000), Australia, Austria, Ukraine, and Bulgaria.

Contents

Alphabet

Slovak uses a Latin alphabet with small modifications that include the four diacritics (ˇ, ´, ¨, ^; see Pronunciation) placed above certain letters.

Orthography

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The primary principle of Slovak spelling is the phonemic principle, "Write as you hear". The secondary principle is the morphological principle: forms derived from the same stem are written in the same way even if they are pronounced differently. An example of this principle is the assimilation rule (see below). The tertiary principle is the etymological principle, which can be seen in the use of i after certain consonants and of y after other consonants, although both i and y are pronounced the same way. Finally there is the rarely applied grammatical principle, under which, for example, there is a difference in writing (but not in the pronunciation) between the basic singular and plural form of masculine adjectives, for example pekný (nice – sg.) vs pekní (nice – pl.), both pronounced [pekniː].

Most foreign words receive Slovak spelling immediately or after some time. For example, "weekend" is spelled víkend, "software" - softvér, "gay" - gej (both not exclusively), and "quality" is spelled kvalita (possibly from Italian qualità). Personal and geographical names from other languages using Latin alphabets keep their original spelling, unless there is a fully Slovak form for the name (for example Londýn for "London").

The acute mark (in Slovak "dĺžeň", "prolongation mark") indicates a long vowel, for example í = approximately /i:/. This mark may appear on any vowel except "ä" (wide "e", široké "e" in Slovak). It may also appear above the consonants "l" and "r" (which, in such cases, are considered vowels).

The circumflex ("vokáň") exists only above the letter "o." It turns the o into a diphthong (see below).

The umlaut ("prehláska", "dve bodky" = two dots) is only used above the letter "a." It indicates a raised vowel, almost an "e".

The caron (in Slovak "mäkčeň", "palatalization mark" or "softener") indicates either palatalization or a change of alveolar fricatives into post-alveolar, in informal Slovak linguistics often called just "palatalization". Eight consonants can bear a caron. Not all "normal" consonants have a "caroned" counterpart:

  • In printed texts, the caron is printed in two forms: (1) č, dž, š, ž, ň and (2) ľ, ď, ť (looking more like an apostrophe), but this is just a convention. In handwritten texts, it always appears in the first form.
  • Phonetically, there are two forms of "palatalization": ľ, ň, ď, ť are palatalized consonants, while č, dž, š, ž are postalveolar affricates and fricatives.
  • To accelerate writing, a rule has been introduced that the frequent character combinations ňe, ďe, ťe, ľe, ňi, ďi, ťi, ľi, ňí, ďí, ťí, ľí are simply written ne, de, te, le, ni, di, ti, li, ní, dí, tí, lí (that is without the caron). These combinations are usually pronounced as if there were a caron above the consonant. There are exceptions:
  1. foreign words (for example telefón is pronounced with a hard t and a hard l)
  2. the following words: ten (that), jeden (one), vtedy (then), teraz (now)
  3. nominative masculine plural endings of pronouns and adjectives do not "soften" preceding n, d, t, l (for example tí odvážni mladí muži /tiː odvaːʒni mladiː muʒi/, the/those brave young men)
  4. short e in adjectival endings, which is derived from long é shortened by the "rhythmical rule" (see below), does not "soften" preceding n, d, t, l (for example krásne stromy /kraːsnɛ.../, beautiful trees, c.f. zelené stromy /zɛlʲɛnɛː.../, green trees)
  • ľ is nowadays pronounced by many speakers, particularly from western Slovakia, as a non-palatalized l, esp. in li and le where the caron is not written. Some western Slovakians even consider palatalized pronunciation of li and le a middle and eastern dialect feature only, or a sign of hypercorrectness. But the regulator of the Slovak language - Slovak Academy of Sciences (The Ľudovít Štúr Linguistic Institute) permanently reminds, that the use of the "correct" - codified pronunciation is needed especially in the public media.[1]

In addition, the following rules hold:

  1. When a voiced consonant having a voiceless correspondent (that is b, d, ď, dz, dž, g, h, z, ž) stands at the end of the word before a pause, it is pronounced as a voiceless consonant (that is p, t, ť, c, č, k, ch, s, š, respectively), for example pohyb is pronounced /pohip/, prípad is pronounced /priːpat/
  2. When "v" stands at the end of the syllable, it is pronounced as non-syllabic u (bilabial approximant /u̯/), with the exception of the position before "n" or "ň", for example, kov /kou̯/ (metal), kravský /krau̯skiː/ (cow - adjective), but povstať /pofstatʲ/ (uprise) because the v is not at the end of the syllable (po-vstať), hlavný /hlavniː/ because "v" stands before "n" here
  3. The assimilation rule: Consonant clusters containing both voiced and voiceless elements are entirely voiced if the last consonant is a voiced one, or voiceless if the last consonant is voiceless. For example, otázka is pronounced /otaːska/, vzchopiť sa is pronounced /fsxopitsːa/. This rule applies also over the word boundary, for example prísť domov /priːzdʲ domou̯/ (to come home), viac jahôd /vi̯adzjahu̯ot/ (more strawberries). The voiced counterpart of "ch" /x/ is /ɣ/.
  4. The rhythmical rule: A long syllable (that is, a syllable containing á, é, í, ý, ó, ú, ŕ, ĺ, ia, ie, iu, ô) cannot be followed by another long syllable in the same word. This rule has morphonemic implications: for example žen-ám but tráv-am) and conjugation (for example nos-ím but súd-im). There are several exceptions to this rule. It is typical of the literary Slovak language, and does not appear in Czech, or in some Slovak dialects.

One of the most important changes in Slovak orthography in the 20th century was in 1953 when s began to be written as z where pronounced [z] in prefixes, for example smluva into zmluva, sväz into zväz. (That is, the phonemic principle has been given priority over the etymological principle in this case.)

Official transcriptions

Slovak linguists do not usually use IPA for phonetic transcription of their own language or others, but have their own system based on the Slovak alphabet. Many English language textbooks make use of this alternative system of 'phonetic' transcription, a factor which probably contributes to some Slovaks developing a particular ('incorrect') pronunciation of certain English phonemes. In the following table, pronunciation of each grapheme is given in this system as well as in the IPA.

grapheme IPA transcr.
a a a
á á
ä æ, ɛ ä, e
b b b
c t͡s c
č t͡ʃ č
d d d
ď ɟ, dʲ ď
dz d͡z ʒ
d͡ʒ ǯ
e e e
é é
f f f
g ɡ g
h ɦ h
ch x x
i ɪ i
í í
j j j
k k k
l l, l̩ l
ĺ l̩ː ĺ̥
ľ ʎ, lʲ ľ
m m m
n n n
ň ɲ, nʲ ň
o ɔ o
ó ɔː ó
ô u̯o ŭo
p p p
q kv kv
r r, r̩ r
ŕ r̩ː ŕ̥
s s s
š ʃ š
t t t
ť c, tʲ ť
u u u
ú ú
v v v
w v v
x ks ks
y ɪ i
ý í
z z z
ž ʒ ž

Some additional notes (transcriptions in IPA unless otherwise stated):

  • Pronunciation of ä as [æ] is already archaic (or dialectical) but still considered correct by some authorities; the other standard pronunciation today is [ɛ].
  • r and l can be syllabic /r̩/ and /l̩/ and behave as vowels. When they are used in this manner, they may be written with the acute accent (ŕ and ĺ). e.g., vlk (wolf), prst (finger), štvrť (quarter), krk (neck), bisyllabic vĺčavĺ-ča (wolfling), vŕbavŕ-ba (willow-tree), etc.
  • ch, normally the unvoiced [x], has a voiced allophone resulting from assimilation [ɣ].
  • The graphic group -ou (at the end of words) is pronounced [ɔu̯] but is not considered a separate diphthong. Its phonemic interpretation is /ov/.
  • ia, ie, iu form diphthongs /i̯a/ /i̯e/ /i̯u/ in native Slovak words, but two monophtongs in foreign and loan words.
  • m has the allophone [ɱ] in front of the labiodental fricatives /f/ and /v/.
  • n in front of (post)alveolar fricatives has an allophone written as /n̶/ in Slovak phonemic transcription.
  • n can be [ŋ] in front of the velar plosives /k/ and /g/.
  • f can be voiced [f̬] as a result of phonetic assimilation.

Pronunciation

The Slovak language has distinctive palatalization.

The accent (stress) in the standard language is always placed on the first syllable of a word (or on the preceding preposition, see below). This is not the case in certain dialects. The eastern dialects, for example, have penultimate stress, which at times makes them difficult for speakers of Standard Slovak to understand. Some of the north-central dialects have a weak stress on the first syllable, which becomes stronger and "moves" to the penultimate in certain cases. Monosyllabic conjunctions, monosyllabic short personal pronouns and auxiliary verb forms of the verb byť (to be) are, as a rule, not stressed.

Prepositions form a single prosodic unit with the following word, unless the word is long (four syllables or more) or the preposition stands at the beginning of a sentence.

Syntax

The main features of Slovak syntax are:

  • The verb (predicate) agrees in person and number with its subject, for example:
Speváčka spieva. (The+female+singer is+singing.)
(Speváčk-a spieva-0, where -0 is a third person singular ending)
Speváčky spievajú. (The+female+singers are+singing.)
(Speváčk-y spieva-j-ú; -ú is a third person plural ending, and /j/ is a hiatus sound)
My speváčky spievame. (We the+female+singers are+singing.)
(My speváčk-y spieva-me, where -me is the first person plural ending)
and so forth.
  • Adjectives, pronouns and numerals agree in person, gender and case with the noun to which it refers.
  • Adjectives precedes their noun. Botanic or zoological terms are exceptions (for example, mačka divá, literally "cat wild", Felis silvestris), as is the naming of Holy Spirit (Duch Svätý) in majority of churches.

Word order in Slovak is relatively free, since strong inflection enables the identification of thematic role (subject, object, predicate, etc.) regardless of its placement. This relatively free word order allows the use of word order in information structure.

Examples:

Ten veľký muž tam dnes otvára obchod. = That big man opens a store there today. (ten = that; veľký = big; muž = man; tam = there; dnes = today; otvára = opens; obchod = store) - The word order is without emphasizing any specific detail, just general information.
Ten veľký muž dnes otvára obchod tam. = That big man is today opening a store there. - This word order emphasizes the place (tam = there).
Dnes tam otvára obchod ten veľký muž. = Today over there a store is being opened by that big man. - This word order focuses on the person who is opening the store (ten = that; veľký = big; muž = man).
Obchod tam dnes otvára ten veľký muž. = The store over there is today being opened by that big man. - Depening on the pronunciation the focus can be either on the store itself or on the the person.

The unmarked order is Subject-Verb-Object. Word order is not completely free. In the above example, the following combinations are not possible:

Ten otvára veľký muž tam dnes obchod.
Obchod muž tam ten veľký dnes otvára. ...

The following are unlikely:

Otvára ten veľký muž tam dnes obchod. (But when understood as a question, this would be a correct word order, i.e. "Is that big man opening the store there"?)
Obchod ten veľký muž dnes tam otvára. (Only possible in a poem or a similar style.)

Morphology

Articles

There are no articles in the Slovak language. The demonstrative pronoun ten (fem: tá, neuter: to) may be used in front of the noun in situations where definiteness must be indicated.

Nouns, adjectives, pronouns

Numerals

There are unique forms for 0-10. 11-19 are formed by the numeral plus "násť." Compound numerals (21, 1054) are combinations of these words formed in the same order as their mathematical symbol is written (for example 21 = dvadsaťjeden, literally "twenty one")).

The numerals are: (1) jeden (jedno (neuter), jedna (feminine)), (2) dva (dve (neuter, feminine)), (3) tri, (4) štyri, (5) päť, (6) šesť, (7) sedem, (8) osem, (9) deväť, (10) desať, (11) jedenásť, (12) dvanásť, (13) trinásť, (14) štrnásť, (15) pätnásť, (16) šestnásť, (17) sedemnásť, (18) osemnásť, (19) devätnásť, (20) dvadsať, (21) dvadsaťjeden,... (30) tridsať, (31) tridsaťjeden,... (40) štyridsať,... (50) päťdesiat,... (60) šesťdesiat,... (70) sedemdesiat,... (80) osemdesiat,... (90) deväťdesiat,... (100) sto, (101) stojeden,... (200) dvesto,... (300) tristo,... (900)deväťsto,... (1,000) tisíc,... (1,100) tisícsto,... (2,000) dvetisíc,... (100,000) stotisíc,... (200,000) dvestotisíc,... (1,000,000) milión,... (1,000,000,000) miliarda,...

Verbs

  • Verbs have three major conjugations. Three persons and two numbers (singular and plural) are distinguished. There are several conjugation paradigms.
  • á-Type Verbs
volať, to call Singular Plural Past Participle (masculine - feminine)
1st Person volám voláme volal - volala
2nd Person voláš voláte
3rd Person volá volajú
  • á-Type Verbs - rhythmic law
bývať, to live Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person bývam bývame býval - bývala
2nd Person bývaš bývate
3rd Person býva bývajú
  • á-Type Verbs - soft stem
vracať, to return Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vraciam vraciame vracal - vracala
2nd Person vraciaš vraciate
3rd Person vracia vracajú
  • í-Type Verbs
robiť, to do, work Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person robím robíme robil - robila
2nd Person robíš robíte
3rd Person robí robia
  • í-Type Verbs - rhythmic law
vrátiť, to return Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vrátim vrátime vrátil - vrátila
2nd Person vrátiš vrátite
3rd Person vráti vrátia
  • ie-Type Verbs
vidieť, to see Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vidím vidíme videl - videla
2nd Person vidíš vidíte
3rd Person vidí vidia
  • e-Type Verbs -ovať
kupovať, to buy Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person kupujem kupujeme kupoval - kupovala
2nd Person kupuješ kupujete
3rd Person kupuje kupujú
  • e-Type Verbs - (typically -Cnuť)
zabudnúť, to forget Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person zabudnem zabudneme zabudol - zabudla
2nd Person zabudneš zabudnete
3rd Person zabudne zabudnú
  • ie-Type Verbs - (typically -Vnuť)
minúť, to spend, miss Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person miniem minieme minul - minula
2nd Person minieš miniete
3rd Person minie minú
  • ie-Type Verbs - -cť, -sť, -zť
niesť, to carry Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person nesiem nesieme niesol - niesla
2nd Person nesieš nesiete
3rd Person nesie nesú
  • ie-Type Verbs - -nieť
stučnieť, to carry (be fat) Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person stučniem stučnieme stučnel - stučnela
2nd Person stučnieš stučniete
3rd Person stučnie stučnejú
  • Irregular Verbs
byť, to be jesť, to eat vedieť, to know
1st Sg som jem viem
2nd Sg si ješ vieš
3rd Sg je je vie
1st Pl sme jeme vieme
2nd Pl ste jete viete
3rd Pl jedia vedia
Past Participle bol jedol vedel
  • Non-continuous time is indicated with a perfective verb and the continuous version with an imperfective verb which is formed on the perfective stem. These are considered separate lexemes. Example: :to hide = skryť, to be hiding = skrývať
  • Historically, there were two past tenses. Both are formed analytically. One of these is not used in the modern language, being considered dated and/or grammatically incorrect. Examples for two related verbs:
skryť (to hide) : skryl som (I hid / I have hidden); bol som skryl (I had hidden)
skrývať (to be hiding): skrýval som (I was hiding); bol som skrýval (I had been hiding)
  • There is one future tense. For imperfective verbs, it is formed analytically, for perfective verbs it is identical with the present tense. Examples:
skryť (to hide) : skryjem (I will hide / I will have hidden)
skrývať (to be hiding) : budem skrývať (I will be hiding)
  • There are two conditional forms. Both are formed analytically from the past tense:
skryť (to hide) : skryl by som (I would hide), bol by som skryl (I would have hidden)
skrývať (to be hiding) : skrýval by som (I would be hiding), bol by som skrýval (I would have been hiding)
skryť (to hide): je skrytý (he is hidden); sa skryje (he is hidden)
skrývať (to be hiding): je skrývaný (he is being hidden); sa skrýva (he is being hidden)
  • The active present participle (=which is ...ing) is formed using the suffixes –úci/ -iaci / - aci
skryť (to hide) : skryjúci (which is hiding)
skrývať (to be hiding): skrývajúci (which is being hiding)
  • The gerund (=by/when ...ing) is formed using the suffixes –úc / -uc / –iac/-ac
skryť (to hide): skryjúc (by/when hiding)
skrývať (to be hiding): skrývajúc (by/when being hiding)
  • The active past participle (= which was ...ing) was formerly formed using the suffix –vší, but is no longer used.
  • The passive participle (= ...ed (adj.)) is formed using the suffixes -ný / -tý / -ený:
skryť (to hide): skrytý (hid)
skrývať (to be hiding): skrývaný (being hidden)
  • The 'verbal noun' (= the ...ing) is formed using the suffix –ie:
skryť (to hide): skrytie (the hiding)
skrývať (to be hiding): skrývanie (the continuous hiding)

Adverbs

Adverbs are formed by replacing the adjectival ending with the ending –o or –e/-y. Sometimes both –o and -e are possible. Examples:

vysoký (high) – vysoko (highly)
pekný (nice) – pekne (nicely)
priateľský (friendly) – priateľsky (in a friendly manner)
rýchly (fast) – rýchlo / rýchle (quickly)

The comparative/superlative of adverbs is formed by replacing the adjectival ending with a comparative/superlative ending -(ej)ší or –(ej)šie. Examples:

rýchly (fast)– rýchlejší (faster) – najrýchlejší (fastest):rýchlo (quickly) – rýchlejšie (more quickly) – najrýchlejšie (most quickly)

Prepositions

Each preposition is associated with one or more grammatical cases. The noun governed by a preposition must appear in the case required by the preposition in the given context. Example:

from friends = od priateľov

Priateľov is the genitive case of priatelia. It must appear in this case because the preposition od (=from) always calls for its objects to be in the genitive.

throughout the square = po námestí (locative case)
past the square = po námestie (accusative case)

Po has a different meaning depending on the case of its governed noun.

History

Relationships to other languages

The Slovak language is a descendant of Proto-Slavic language, itself a descendant of Proto-Indo-European. It is closely related to the other West Slavic languages, primarily to Czech, but it also has some striking similarities with other Slavic languages, primarily the Southern Slavic languages and Old Church Slavonic. It has been also influenced by German, English, Latin and Hungarian.

Slavic languages (except Czech)

Slavic language varieties tend to be closely related, and have had a large degree of mutual influence, due to the complicated ethnopolitical history of their historic ranges. This is reflected in the many features Slovak shares with neighboring language varieties. Standard Slovak shares high degrees of mutual intelligibility with many Slavic varieties. Despite this closeness to other Slavic varieties, there is significant variation among Slovak dialects. In particular, eastern varieties differ significantly from the standard language, which is based on central and western varieties.

Eastern Slovak dialects have the greatest degree of mutual intelligibility with Rusyn of all the Slovak dialects, but both lack technical terminology and upper register expressions. Polish and Sorbian also differ quite considerably from Czech and Slovak in upper registers, but non-technical and lower register speech is readily intelligible. There is also some mutual intelligibility with spoken Rusyn, Ukrainian and even Russian (in this order), although their orthography, based on the Cyrillic alphabet, is very different.

There are also similarities with the western Southern Slavic languages, i.e. Croatian, Serbian and to a lesser degree Slovenian stemming from the time before the arrival of the Hungarians in Central Europe.

English word Slovak Ruthenian Ruthenian transliteration Ukrainian Ukrainian transliteration Czech Polish
to buy kupovať куповати kupovaty купувати kupuvaty kupovat kupować
Welcome! Vitajte! Вітайте! vitajte! Вітаю! vitaju! Vítejte Witajcie
morning ráno рано rano рано/ранок rano/ranok ráno rano / ranek
Thank you Ďakujem Дякую ďakuju Дякую ďakuju Děkuji Dziękuję
How are you? Ako sa máš? Як ся маєш/маш? jak sä maješ/maš? Як справи? jak spravy? Jak se máš? Jak się masz?
Як себе/ся маєш? jak sebe/sä maješ?

Note: Jak sä maješ? in Ukraine is often considered to be a Polonized version of greeting. In proper Ukrainian gramar it would have been something like Jak maješ-sä?

Czech

Most dialects of Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible (see Differences between Slovak and Czech languages). Eastern Slovak dialects are less intelligible with Czech; they differ from Czech and from other Slovak dialects, and mutual contact between speakers of Czech and speakers of the eastern dialects is limited.

Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia it has been allowed to use Czech in TV broadcasting and - like any other language of the world - during court proceedings (Administration Procedure Act 99/1963 Zb.). From 1999 to August 2009, the Minority Language Act 184/1999 Z.z., in its section (§) 6, contained the variously interpreted unclear provision saying that "When applying this act, it holds that the use of the Czech language fulfills the requirement of fundamental intelligibility with the state language" ; the state language is Slovak and the Minority Language Act basically refers to municipalities with more than 20% ethnic minority population (there are no such Czech municipalities in Slovakia). Since 1 September 2009 (due to an amendment to the State Language Act 270/1995 Z.z.) a language "fundamentally intelligible with the state language" (i.e. the Czech language) may be used in contact with state offices and bodies by its native speakers and documents written in it and issued by bodies in the Czech Republic are officially accepted.

Czech and Slovak have a long history of interaction and mutual influence well before the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Literary Slovak shares significant orthographic features with Czech, as well as technical and professional terminology dating from the Czechoslovak period, but there are phonetic, grammatical and vocabulary differences.

Latin

English

German

German loanwords include "coins," Slovak mince, German münzen; "to wish", Slovak vinšovať (colloquial, standard term: želať), German wünschen; and "color," Slovak farba, German Farbe.[2]

Hungarian

There is a very low number of Hungarian loanwords in Slovak. Examples include:

  • "wicker whip": Slovak korbáč (the standard name for "whip" is bič and korbáč , itself originating from Turkish kırbaç, usually means only 1 particular type of it—the "wicker whip") – Hungarian korbács;
  • "dragon/kite": Slovak šarkan (rather rare, drak is far more common in this meaning; šarkan often means only "kite", esp. a small one that is flown for fun and this term is far more common than drak in this meaning; for the "dragon kite", the term drak is still used almost exclusively) – Hungarian sárkány.[3]

Dialects

Official usage of Slovak language in Vojvodina, Serbia

There are many varieties of Slovak. These may be divided in four basic groups:

The fourth group of dialects is often not considered a separate group, but a subgroup of Central and Western Slovak dialects (see e.g. Štolc, 1968), but it is currently undergoing changes due to contact with surrounding languages (Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian) and long-time geographical separation from Slovakia (see the studies in Zborník Spolku vojvodinských slovakistov, e.g. Dudok, 1993).

For an external map of the three groups in Slovakia see here.

The dialect groups differ mostly in phonology, vocabulary and inflection. Syntactic differences are minor. Central Slovak forms the basis of the present-day standard language. Not all dialects are fully mutually intelligible. It may be difficult for an inhabitant of the Slovak capital Bratislava (in western Slovakia) to understand a dialect from eastern Slovakia.

The dialects are fragmented geographically, separated by numerous mountain ranges. The first three groups already existed in the 10th century. All of them are spoken by the Slovaks outside Slovakia (USA, Canada, Croatian Slavonia, Bulgaria and elsewhere) and Central and Western dialects form the basis of the Lowland dialects (see above).

The western dialects contain features common with the Moravian dialects in the Czech Republic, the southern central dialects contain a few features common with South Slavic languages, and the eastern dialects a few features common with Polish and the East Slavonic languages (cf. Štolc, 1994). Lowland dialects share some words and areal features with the languages surrounding them (Serbian, Hungarian and Romanian).

See also

References

Footnotes

Notations

  • Dudok, D. (1993) Vznik a charakter slovenských nárečí v juhoslovanskej Vojvodine [The emergence and character of the Slovak dialects in Yugoslav Vojvodina]. Zborník spolku vojvodinských slovakistov 15. Nový Sad: Spolok vojvodinských slovakistov, pp. 19–29.
  • Musilová, K. and Sokolová, M. (2004) Funkčnost česko-slovenských kontaktových jevů v současnosti [The functionality of Czech-Slovak contact phenomena in the present-time]. In Fiala, J. and Machala, L. (eds.) Studia Moravica I (AUPO, Facultas Philosophica Moravica 1). Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, pp. 133–146.
  • Nábělková, M. (2003) Súčasné kontexty slovensko-českej a česko-slovenskej medzijazykovosti [Contemporary contexts of the Slovak-Czech and Czech-Slovak interlinguality]. In Pospíšil, I. – Zelenka, M. (eds.) Česko-slovenské vztahy v slovanských a středoevropských souvislostech (meziliterárnost a areál). Brno: ÚS FF MU, pp. 89–122.
  • Nábělková, M. (2006) V čom bližšie, v čom ďalej... Spisovná slovenčina vo vzťahu k spisovnej češtine a k obecnej češtine [In what closer, in what further... Standard Slovak in relation to Standard Czech and Common Czech]. In Gladkova, H. and Cvrček, V. (eds.) Sociální aspekty spisovných jazyků slovanských. Praha: Euroslavica, pp. 93–106.
  • Nábělková, M. (2007) Closely related languages in contact: Czech, Slovak, "Czechoslovak". International Journal of the Sociology of Language 183, pp. 53–73.
  • Nábělková, M. (2008) Slovenčina a čeština v kontakte: Pokračovanie príbehu. [Slovak and Czech in Contact: Continuation of the Story]. Bratislava/Praha: Veda/Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy. 364 pp., ISBN 978-80-224-1060-1
  • Sloboda, M. (2004) Slovensko-česká (semi)komunikace a vzájemná (ne)srozumitelnost [Slovak-Czech (semi)communication and the mutual (un)intelligibility]. Čeština doma a ve světě XII, No. 3–4, pp. 208–220.
  • Sokolová, M. (1995) České kontaktové javy v slovenčine [Czech contact phenomena in Slovak]. In Ondrejovič, S. and Šimková, M. (eds.) Sociolingvistické aspekty výskumu súčasnej slovenčiny (Sociolinguistica Slovaca 1). Bratislava: Veda, pp. 188–206.
  • Štolc, Jozef (1968) Reč Slovákov v Juhoslávii I.: Zvuková a gramatická stavba [The speech of the Slovaks in Yugoslavia: phonological and grammatical structure]. Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie vied.
  • Štolc, Jozef (1994) Slovenská dialektológia [Slovak dialectology]. Ed. I. Ripka. Bratislava: Veda.

External links

Slovak language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simple English

Slovak language
Spoken in: Slovakia, Czechia, Vojvodina (by 2,79% of the people) USA, Canada, Australia, Hungary, Croatia and Ukraine
Speaker: 6 million
Official language:
Country: Slovakia
Linguistic classification:
Indo-European languages
   Slavic languages
      Western slavic languages
         Czech-Slovak-group
            Slovak language

Slovak is the language spoken in Slovakia, a country in central Europe. It is a Slavic language, a group of languages which includes Russian, Polish and many other East European languages. It is very similar to Czech, and Czechs and Slovaks can understand one another quite well when speaking their own language. Polish and Sorbian are also quite similar. Slovak is spoken in Slovakia by more than 5 million people.

Pronunciation

Slovak is written using the Roman (Latin) alphabet, but there are some letters which have special signs (called “diacritics”).

The letters č, š, ž and dž are like the English sounds in chin, shin, vision and juice.

The letters ď, ľ, ň, and ť are called “soft consonants”. They are pronounced with the blade of the tongue at the roof of the mouth.

C, dz and j are also soft. C is like ts in bats, dz is like ds in rods, and j is like y in yes.

Signs over a vowel show that the vowel is pronounced long: á, é, í, ó, ý ú. A long vowel is never followed in the next syllable by a short vowel.

The ô is like English wombat, and ä is the same as the letter e.

Ch is like ch in Scottish loch. V is more like English w.

The letters b, d, ď, dz, dž, g, h, z, ž are voiceless when they are at the end of a word (for example: 'd' will sound like 't').

The stress is always on the first syllable of the word. This is different from Russian, for example, where the stress can be anywhere.

Like other Slavic languages, Slovak is difficult for English speakers to pronounce. This is particularly because several consonants often come together. In the sentence: “Strč prst skrz krk!” there is not one single vowel (it means: “Stick a finger through your neck!”)!

Grammar

The grammar is similar to Russian, but there are some differences. Russian does not use words for “to have” and “to be” but Slovak does:

  • Ja som Angličan (I am English)
  • (Ja) mám kufor (I have a suitcase).

Notice that we say “a” suitcase, but Slovak does not have articles (words like “the” and “a”).

There are three genders in Slovak. This means that it is important to know for every noun whether it is masculine, feminine or neuter. There is no article to make it obvious (like in German), but one needs to know in order to decide what the adjective ending will be.

Like in many other European languages, verbs have to agree with the person, i.e. there are different forms for 'I', 'you', 'he' etc. Verbs have different aspects to show whether the action is complete or not. There are also different cases which show the meaning of a word in a sentence. Different prepositions need to be followed by different cases. This all makes Slovak grammar quite complicated for English speakers.

Some Slovak words and phrases

The numbers from 1 to 10 are: jeden, dva, tri, štyri, päť, šesť, sedem, osem, deväť, desať.

Use the familiar form when talking to a child, and the polite form when talking to an adult.

  • Ahoj–Hello
  • Dobré ráno–Good morning
  • Dobrý deň–Good day (Used during the day)
  • Dobrý večer–Good evening
  • Dobrú noc–Good night
  • Vitaj!–Welcome! (familiar form)
  • Vitajte!–Welcome! (polite form)
  • Volám sa John - My name is John (Literally: I call myself John)
  • Ako sa voláš–What is your name? (Familiar form)
  • Ako sa voláte?–What is your name? (Polite form)
  • Ja som Američan–I am American (If speaker is male)
  • Ja som Američanka–I am American (If speaker is female)
  • Ako sa maš?–How are you? (familiar form)
  • Ako sa máte?–How are you (polite form)
  • Ďakujem, dobre–Thank you, I am well
  • Ujde to–Not too bad
  • Zle!–Bad!
  • Prosím–Please
  • Ďakujem–Thank you
  • Nech sa páči/Nie je za čo– You are welcome (this is a reply to “Ďakujem”)
  • Dobrú chuť - Enjoy your meal

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