Slovenia is situated in the middle of central Europe – in a sense, it’s a bridge between the Romance and Slavic Worlds. Over 2.5 million people speak the Slovenian language – and most of them live in Slovenia.
Slovenians have traveled to the four corners of the Earth – you will find communities in:
It’s a part of the Slavic family tree – a member of the Souther branch. Around three hundred years ago, there were 2 different dialects in the region – these joined together as the people intermingled. Eventually, we ended up with the current tongue. Add to this the fact that the language was only recently standardized, and you can begin to understand the reasons for its unique character.
Why did it take so long to standardize? Due to elitism.
It’s a member of the South Slavic linguistic family. The language formed in the 18th century out of two dialects from the region that combined. There is some dialectic diversity in different regions, and the language was not standardized until relatively recently.
One reason was because other languages were taught in schools in those regions – education plays an important role in the standardization of a language.
Slovenian’s closest relative is Serbo-Croatian.
The Slovene alphabet is Latin, although the letter sequence is a little different. This may trip up unwary students.
There are many dialects in Slovenia – around 50, which is staggering when you consider the size of the population. This is why linguists call it the most diverse Slavic language. Mastering all these dialects would be a tall order, but they can be divided into 3 groups. When you understand the most common elements of these groups, it becomes much easier to understand the individual dialects.
Although Slovene is very similar to Serbo-Croatian, these dialectic differences make it hard for Serbo-Croatian speakers to understand. They can usually follow along if the speaker talks slowly, but there will be odd expressions and idioms that leave them cold.
The language has many borrowed words from nearby countries. These will be a familiar sight if you know several languages – but beware! Over time, some of these loanwords have changed meaning, making them “false friends”.
There are some major grammatical differences between English and Slovene. One such difference is the “dual” form of nouns. In English, we have singular and plural forms. Slovene has these as well. But it also has the dual form, which means exactly 2.
Learning the Slovenian language is much easier if you have Slovenian friends to talk to, online or in real life.