|slovenčina, slovenský jazyk|
|Spoken in||Slovakia and as a minority language also in the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary etc.|
|Total speakers||over 7 million|
|Official language in|| European Union
Vojvodina in Serbia
Recognised minority language in:
|Regulated by||Slovak Academy of Sciences (The Ľudovít Štúr Linguistic Institute)|
|ISO 639-2||slo (B)||slk (T)|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
The Slovak language ( slovenský jazyk (help·info), 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.
|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 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 addition, the following rules hold:
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.)
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.
|ä||æ, ɛ||ä, e|
Some additional notes (transcriptions in IPA unless otherwise stated):
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.
The main features of Slovak syntax are:
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.
The unmarked order is Subject-Verb-Object. Word order is not completely free. In the above example, the following combinations are not possible:
The following are unlikely:
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.
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,...
|volať, to call||Singular||Plural||Past Participle (masculine - feminine)|
|1st Person||volám||voláme||volal - volala|
|bývať, to live||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||bývam||bývame||býval - bývala|
|vracať, to return||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||vraciam||vraciame||vracal - vracala|
|robiť, to do, work||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||robím||robíme||robil - robila|
|vrátiť, to return||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||vrátim||vrátime||vrátil - vrátila|
|vidieť, to see||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||vidím||vidíme||videl - videla|
|kupovať, to buy||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||kupujem||kupujeme||kupoval - kupovala|
|zabudnúť, to forget||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||zabudnem||zabudneme||zabudol - zabudla|
|minúť, to spend, miss||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||miniem||minieme||minul - minula|
|niesť, to carry||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||nesiem||nesieme||niesol - niesla|
|stučnieť, to carry (be fat)||Singular||Plural||Past Participle|
|1st Person||stučniem||stučnieme||stučnel - stučnela|
|byť, to be||jesť, to eat||vedieť, to know|
Adverbs are formed by replacing the adjectival ending with the ending –o or –e/-y. Sometimes both –o and -e are possible. Examples:
The comparative/superlative of adverbs is formed by replacing the adjectival ending with a comparative/superlative ending -(ej)ší or –(ej)šie. Examples:
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:
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.
Po has a different meaning depending on the case of its governed noun.
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 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|
|morning||ráno||рано||rano||рано/ранок||rano/ranok||ráno||rano / ranek|
|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?|
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.
German loanwords include "coins," Slovak mince, German münzen; "to wish", Slovak vinšovať (colloquial, standard term: želať), German wünschen; and "color," Slovak farba, German Farbe.
There is a very low number of Hungarian loanwords in Slovak. Examples include:
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).
|Spoken in:||Slovakia, Czechia, Vojvodina (by 2,79% of the people) USA, Canada, Australia, Hungary, Croatia and Ukraine|
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.
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.
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!”)!
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:
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.
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.