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Slovak: The language with 46 letters

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9 Facts about the Slovak language

01

In it written form, Slovak is recognizable by the large number of accents it uses. It has the most extended alphabet among the languages of Europe, with no less than 46 letters.

02

The Slovak language belongs to the Western Slavic languages, but it contains some elements from the Southern Slavic languages.

03

Slovak did not exist as a codified language until the end of the 18th century when Anton Bernolák, a Roman Catholic priest, created a Slovak literary language.

04

The original Slovak language was based on the Western Slovakian dialect and produced a phonetic spelling (letters are written as pronounced).

05

Slovak uses the Latin alphabet plus the four diacritics: an caron as a softener, the acute mark as a lengthener, an umlaut (¨) and the circumflex (^).

06

Sometimes, Slovak is called "Slavic Esperanto," as it is regarded as the most comprehensible language for the speakers of other Slavic languages.

07

Like Czech, the Slovak language distinguishes itself from many other Slavic languages because the first syllables of words are usually stressed.

08

In addition to Czech, several other languages have influenced the development of the Slovak language, notably Polish, Hungarian, Latin and German.

09

Founded in 1943, the Ľudovít Štúr Institute of Linguistics of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in the Slovak Republic focuses on the study of the Slovak language.

Slovak

Origin of the language

Slovak emerged in Proto-Slavic regions.

Slovak

History of the language

It first originated during the 11th to 15th centuries.

Slovak

Learning the language

It takes  about 2000 hours to learn Slovak for English speakers.

Slovak language for beginners

Ten basic words to start learning in Slovak:

Hello: Ahoj
Why: Prečo
Goodbye: Zbohom
Light: svetlo
House: dom
Animal: zviera
Work: práca
Good: dobrý
Name: názov
People: lĽudia

Quotes

I am convinced that the vast majority of citizens desire our republic to be the best possible Slovakia.

Zuzana Čaputová

Politician, Lawyer, Activist

I always knew I wanted to work hard at something.

David Dobrik

YouTuber

There will always be someone to criticize me for what I do, but I don’t care what they think.

Peter Sagan

Professional Road Bicycle Racer

Fun facts about the Slovak language

Codification of Serbian

After Slovak was created by Ľudovít Štúr, Bernolák codified it in Hlboké in July 1843.

Slovak word for coins

The Slovak word for coins, mince comes from the German word for coins or cash, Münzen.

Borrowing from other languages

In recent years, Slovak has borrowed several words from other languages, including English and Italian.

Varying dialects

There are many different dialects within the Slovak language which are categorized into four major groups: Eastern Slovak, Central Slovak, Western Slovak and Lowland.

Czech and Slovak

The Czech and Slovak languages are very similar because, in Czechoslovakia, people had been exposed to both languages daily, primarily through the media.

Vowels pronounced differently

The accents over a vowel determine whether it will be pronounced as a long vowel (e.g. á, é, í, ó, ý, ú). A short vowel never follows a long vowel in the next syllable.

Voiceless letters

The letters b, d, ď, dz, dž, g, h, z and ž are voiceless if placed at the end of a word. For instance, “d” will sound like “t”.

First syllables always stressed

In Slovak, the stress is always on the world's first syllable, unlike in Russian, in which any syllable can be emphasized.

Three genders in Slovak

The language allows for three genders, which means that any noun could be masculine, feminine or neutral.

Difficulty for English Speakers

Because several consonants are often placed together, Slovak can be relatively difficult for English speakers to pronounce.

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