Friday, July 8, 2016

Language facts: Slovak

Slovak, also known as Slovakian, is an Indo-European language belonging to the West Slavic languages (together with Czech and Polish). The language is very similar to Czech and the two are mutually intelligible, with the exception of some dialects in East Slovakia that have structural differences and is hardly comprehensible to those familiar with the official version. 

Spišský castle (UNESCO heritage) with the High Tatras panorama, Slovakia.

Slovak has been influenced by many languages, including Czech, Polish, German and Hungarian. It's the official language in Slovakia and Vojvodina (in Serbia), as well as an official EU language, with over 5 million native speakers in Slovakia and small minorities in the USA, Czech Republic and Serbia.

Language – a tool of failed revolution

Slovak is a descendant to Proto-Slavic language, from which it started to differ around the 8-9th century after inhabiting today's area of Slovakia. In 863, the first script – the Glagolitic alphabet – was used to write down the "Old Slavonic" (language of Slovene – the Slavic inhabitants of the area) after the arrival of Constantine and Methodius (brothers and Byzantine theologians and inventors of the script). The brothers even pushed through Old Slavonic as the fourth liturgical language. This was however abolished in 885 and the area got back to using latin script.

Slovak was not constituted until the middle of 19th century and its codification itself marks the era of a strong national movement against former Hungarian supremacy. In the European revolutionary years of 1848-1849, the group around protestant literate Ľudovít Štúr promoted the use of Slovak language in their publications and engaged in the nationalistic brawl (which was logically followed by reprisals from Hungarian government). After Austria-Hungary was established in 1867, the government forced a strong Magyarization including conversion of all Slovak schools (from elementary to universities) to Hungarian, while Slovak language was allowed only as a foreign language with very limited extent of one hour per week. Slovak language was not officially recognized until 1918, when Czechoslovakia was established.


Slovak uses the Latin alphabet with diacritics. It is a common practice to change the spelling of foreign words into Slovak to establish a new Slovak word (e.g. weekend = víkend, dubbing = dabing, etc.).

A Á Ä B C Č D Ď Dz Dž E É F G H Ch I Í J K L Ľ M N Ň O Ó Ô P Q R Ŕ S Š T Ť U Ú V W X Y Ý Z Ž
a á ä b c č d ď dz dž e é f g h ch i í j k l ľ m n ň o ó ô p q r ŕ s š t ť u ú v w x y ý z ž

No comments:

Post a Comment