Slovak language

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Slovak
slovenčina, slovenský jazyk
Native to Slovakia; minority language in Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary
Native speakers over 7 million  (2001 census)
Language family
Writing system Latin (Slovak alphabet)
Slovak Braille
Official status
Official language in

 European Union
 Slovakia
 Czech Republic[1]
 Serbia (Vojvodina)


Recognised minority language in:
 Hungary

 Ukraine
Regulated by Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic
Language codes
ISO 639-1 sk
ISO 639-2 slo (B)
slk (T)
ISO 639-3 slk
Linguasphere 53-AAA-db < 53-AAA-b...-d
(varieties: 53-AAA-dba to 53-AAA-dbs)

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[change | change source]

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[change | change source]

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[change | change source]

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

References[change | change source]

  1. E.g. law 500/2004, 337/1992. Source: http://portal.gov.cz