The Slovak Republic sits in the middle of Europe, surrounded by five other countries. The Slovak language is a member of the West Slavic family and is very similar to Czech.
Although different languages, they are mutually intelligible – that means People in Slovakia can talk freely with people in the Czech Republic without the need for an interpreter. However, there are regional dialects that are hard for Czech people to understand – and vise versa.
There are 5.5 million people in Slovakia, and there are strong communities in these countries:
Slovakians use the Latin alphabet in their writing. However, there are some additions that are necessary for Slovak phonetics. These are few, and an English speaker should be able to learn the alphabet quickly with a little practice.
However, they should be aware that words are not always spelled the same way they are pronounced. It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock – many people say the same thing about English!
Slovak is an inflectional language – it’s not as syntactically strict as English, where sentences always follow the “subject-verb-object” sequence. Instead, Slovakians modify the word to show if it’s a subject, object, or indirect object. This allows native speakers to switch words around inside sentences to express emphasis.
This will be familiar to students of Latin – it allows for a freedom of expression, but it is quite tricky to get the hang of.
Syntax still plays a role in the language, of course. Without inflected forms, the syntax follows the familiar subject-verb-object sequence. Word order is important with adjectives and nouns, too.
Learning the Slovak language is challenging for a native English speaker, but it’s also quite liberating. You may find yourself wishing you could form sentences so freely in English!