The Slovenian language is an Indo-European language of the South Slavic language branch. Standard Slovenian as we know it today was originally comprised of many different local dialects, but they were consolidated into one identifiable language around the 16th century. Previously to this, there were many similar but disjointed forms of what we now refer to as Slovenian being used both in the cities and the provinces.
While religious works such as the Freising Manuscripts are among the oldest works containing the Slovenian language, dating back to around a thousand years ago, the second half of the 16th century brought many writers to the Slovenian language. During this time the Bible was translated to Slovenian, the first grammatical texts were written, and the first books produced. Then, in the 19th century, the primarily spoken language of Standard Slovenian was officially standardized. However, Slovenian was not considered to be a prestigious language, and up until the end of the First World War, the language of German was considered to be more elite.
These days, there are still many regional dialects that are spoken in Slovenia and the surrounding area, but the written language itself is standardized. There might be great differences in the way that someone from Ptuj speaks to the way that someone in Nova Gorica speaks, even with aspects such as grammar and phonology, but both of them will be able to understand completely the written language of Slovenian. However, the more that Standard Slovenian is used by the government and by the majority of the people, the more these differing dialects are beginning to die out.
There are around 2.5 million speakers of the Slovenian language around the world, though the majority of them do live in Slovenia. The language group to which it belongs to, Slavic, comprise around 5% of the worlds languages. The Slovenian language is the first language of around 1.8 million people, and is also one of the 23 working languages of the European Union.
As well as being the official language of Slovenia, the Slovenian language is spoken in Italy, Austria Croatia, and Hungary. In Italy, it is spoken in Fruili Venezia Giulia; in Austria it is spoken in Carinthia and Styria; in Hungary it is spoken in Vas. While the Slovenian language is not yet endangered, the language itself has not been able to keep up with what is necessary for a language to do these days: evolve and develop new terms for science and technology.
Two of the distinctive characteristics of the Slovenian language are 1) The existence of a dual grammatical number, and 2) two accentual norms. One of these accentual norms is characterized by pitch accent, while the other is not. Word order in the Slovenian language is flexible and can be used to express personal taste or opinion, though it does tend to follow a Subject Verb Object pattern, particularly in the written version of the language.
The Slovenian language is closest in style and layout to certain dialects of Croatian, notably the Kajkavian and Cakavian dialects. Slovenian has a very high intelligibility rate with these dialects, though mutual intelligibility with other forms and varieties of Serbo-Croatian is not often found, due to a very different grammar set-up, and highly separate methods of pronunciation.
Why Learn The Slovenian Language?
The country of Slovenia is situated in Central Europe. Bordering both the Alps and the Mediterranean, and with Italy on the West and Austria to the North, the country of Slovenia is one of the most under-rated countries in Europe for beautiful travel. There are many lakes and caves to explore, as well as stunning Baroque architecture in the capital city of Ljubljana.
The number of people who solely use the Slovenian language is dropping. While this might be a reason to choose another of the South Slavic languages to learn, it can also mean that by learning this particular language, your skills will be in demand. With not as many people learning the Slovenian language as a secondary language, there will be more of a need to find translators to communicate, so if you have been looking at jobs in translation or within Europe, the Slovenian language may be an interesting one to choose.