Slovak language

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slovenčina, slovenský jazyk
Native to Slovakia; minority language in Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary
Native speakers
c. 5 million  (2001)[1]
Latin (Slovak alphabet)
Slovak Braille
Official status
Official language in
 European Union
 Czech Republic[2]
 Vojvodina in Serbia
Recognised minority language in
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)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Slovak (About this sound slovenský jazyk , slovenčina; not to be confused with slovenski jezik or slovenščina, the native name of the Slovene language) is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages (together with Czech, Polish, Silesian, Kashubian, and Sorbian).

Slovak is the official language of Slovakia where it is spoken by approximately 4.6 million people (2001). Slovak speakers are also found in the United States, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Ireland, Romania, Poland, Canada, Hungary, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, and Ukraine.


An excerpt of Slovak poem 'Mor ho' by Samo Chalupka (1812–1883). The speaker is a 21-year-old woman from Bratislava.

Problems playing this file? See media help.


Slovak has the five short vowels /a/ /e/ /i/ /o/ /u/ (plus /æ/, orthographic ä, though rare), the five long vowels /aː/ /eː/ /iː/ /oː/ /uː/, and four rising diphthongs: /ie/ /ia/ /iu/ /uo/. /e/ /eː/ /o/ /oː/ are phonetically mid. /a/ and /aː/ are central.[3][4]


Consonant phonemes of Slovak[5]
Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k ɡ
Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x ɦ
Trill r rː
Approximant l lː j ʎ

The postalveolar consonants are often pronounced with retroflexion, similar to Russian and Polish. /v/ is frequently pronounced as a labiodental approximant, particularly in the syllable onset before a vowel or sonorant.[6] /c/, /ɟ/ and /ɲ/ are phonetically palatalized alveolar.[7]


In the standard language, the stress is always on the first syllable of a word (or on the preceding preposition, see below). This is not the case in certain dialects. Eastern dialects have penultimate stresses which at times makes them difficult to understand for speakers of standard Slovak. Some of the north-central dialects have a weak stress on the first syllable, which becomes stronger and "moves" to the penultimate in certain cases. Monosyllabic conjunctions, monosyllabic short personal pronouns and auxiliary verb forms of the verb byť (to be) are, as a rule, not stressed.

Prepositions form a single prosodic unit with the following word, unless the word is long (four syllables or more) or the preposition stands at the beginning of a sentence.


Slovak uses the Latin script with small modifications that include the four diacritics (ˇ, ´, ¨, ˆ) placed above certain letters.

The primary principle of Slovak spelling is the phonemic principle. The secondary principle is the morphological principle: forms derived from the same stem are written in the same way even if they are pronounced differently. An example of this principle is the assimilation rule (see below). The tertiary principle is the etymological principle, which can be seen in the use of i after certain consonants and of y after other consonants, although both i and y are pronounced the same way.

Finally, the rarely applied grammatical principle is present when, for example, the basic singular form and plural form of masculine adjectives are written differently with no difference in pronunciation (e.g. pekný = nice – singular versus pekní = nice – plural).

Most foreign words receive Slovak spelling immediately or after some time. For example, "weekend" is spelled víkend, "software" - softvér, "gay" - gej (both not exclusively), and "quality" is spelled kvalita (possibly from Italian qualità). Personal and geographical names from other languages using Latin alphabets keep their original spelling unless a fully Slovak form of the name exists (e.g. Londýn for "London").

The acute mark (in Slovak "dĺžeň", "prolongation mark") indicates length (e.g. í = approximately [iː]). This mark may appear on any vowel except "ä" (wide "e", široké "e" in Slovak). It may also appear above the consonants "l" and "r", indicating the long [l:] and [r:] sounds.

The circumflex ("vokáň") exists only above the letter "o". It turns the o into a diphthong (see below).

The umlaut ("prehláska", "dve bodky" = two dots) is only used above the letter "a". It indicates a raised vowel, almost an "e", similar to German ä.

The caron (in Slovak "mäkčeň", "palatalization mark" or "softener") indicates a change of alveolar fricatives into either post-alveolar or palatal consonants, in informal Slovak linguistics often called just "palatalization". Eight consonants can bear a caron. Not all "normal" consonants have a "caroned" counterpart:

  • In printed texts, the caron is printed in two forms: (1) č, dž, š, ž, ň and (2) ľ, ď, ť (looking more like an apostrophe), but this is just a convention. In handwritten texts, it always appears in the first form.
  • Phonetically, two forms of "palatalization" exist: ľ, ň, ď, ť are palatal consonants, while č, dž, š, ž are postalveolar affricates and fricatives.
  • To accelerate writing, a rule has been introduced that the frequent character combinations ňe, ďe, ťe, ľe, ňi, ďi, ťi, ľi, ňí, ďí, ťí, ľí are simply written ne, de, te, le, ni, di, ti, li, ní, dí, tí, lí (that is without the caron). These combinations are usually pronounced as if a caron were found above the consonant. Some exceptions are as follows:
  1. foreign words (e.g. telefón is pronounced with a hard t and a hard l)
  2. the following words: ten (that), jeden (one), vtedy (then), teraz (now)
  3. nominative masculine plural endings of pronouns and adjectives do not "soften" preceding n, d, t, l (e.g. tí odvážni mladí muži /tiː odvaːʒni mladiː muʒi/, the/those brave young men)
  4. short e in adjectival endings, which is derived from long é shortened by the "rhythmical rule" (see below), does not "soften" preceding n, d, t, l (e.g. krásne stromy /kraːsnɛ.../, beautiful trees, c.f. zelené stromy /zɛʎɛnɛː.../, green trees)
  • ľ is nowadays pronounced by many speakers, particularly from western Slovakia, as a non-palatalized l. In standard Slovak, li and le are never palatalized; such palatalized pronunciation of li and le is already a marked pronunciation (of a middle and eastern dialects, or a sign of hypercorrectness).

In addition, the following rules are present:

  1. When a voiced consonant having a voiceless correspondent (that is b, d, ď, dz, dž, g, h, z, ž) stands at the end of the word before a pause, it is pronounced as a voiceless consonant (that is p, t, ť, c, č, k, ch, s, š, respectively). For example, pohyb is pronounced /poɦip/ and prípad is pronounced /priːpat/.
  2. When "v" stands at the end of the syllable, it is pronounced as non-syllabic u (bilabial approximant /u̯/), with the exception of the position before "n" or "ň". One example is as follows: kov /kou̯/ (metal), kravský /krau̯skiː/ (cow - adjective), but povstať /pofstac/ (uprise), because the "v" is not at the end of the syllable (po-vstať) and hlavný /ɦlavniː/ because "v" stands before the "n".
  3. The assimilation rule: Consonant clusters containing both voiced and voiceless elements are entirely voiced if the last consonant is a voiced one, or voiceless if the last consonant is voiceless. For example, otázka is pronounced /otaːska/ and vzchopiť sa is pronounced /fsxopitsːa/. This rule applies also over the word boundary. One example is as follows: prísť domov /priːzɟ domou̯/ (to come home) and viac jahôd /vi̯adzjaɦu̯ot/ (more strawberries). The voiced counterpart of "ch" /x/ is /ɣ/.
  4. The rhythmical rule: A long syllable (that is, a syllable containing á, é, í, ý, ó, ú, ŕ, ĺ, ia, ie, iu, ô) cannot be followed by another long syllable in the same word. This rule has morphonemic implications (e.g. žen-ám but tráv-am) and conjugation (e.g. nos-ím but súd-im). Several exceptions of this rule exist. It is typical of the literary Slovak language, and does not appear in Czech or in some Slovak dialects.

One of the most important changes in Slovak orthography in the 20th century was in 1953 when s began to be written as z where pronounced [z] in prefixes (e.g. smluva into zmluva as well as sväz into zväz). The phonemic principle has been given priority over the etymological principle in this case.

Along with English, Slovak is one of the few languages to feature heterophonic homographs, the most common examples being krásne /ˈkraːsne/ (beautiful) versus krásne /ˈkraːsɲe/ (beautifully).

Official transcriptions[edit]

Slovak linguists do not usually use IPA for phonetic transcription of their own language or others, but have their own system based on the Slovak alphabet. Many English language textbooks make use of this alternative system of 'phonetic' transcription, a factor which probably contributes to some Slovaks developing a particular ('incorrect') pronunciation of certain English phonemes. In the following table, pronunciation of each grapheme is given in this system as well as in the IPA.

grapheme IPA transcr. example
a a a
á á
ä ɛ, æ e, ä
b b b
c t͡s c
č t͡ʃ č
d d d
ď ɟ ď
dz d͡z ʒ
d͡ʒ ǯ
e e e
é é
f f f
g ɡ g
h ɦ h
ch x x
i ɪ i
í í
j j j
k k k
l l, l̩ l
ĺ l̩ː ĺ mĺkvy (adj. prone to silence) About this sound [ˈm ̩lkvi] 
ľ ʎ ľ moľa (clothes moth) About this sound [ˈm ̞oʎa] 
m m m
n n n
ň ɲ ň
o ɔ o
ó ɔː ó
ô u̯ɔ ŭo kôň (horse) About this sound [ˈkuoɲ] 
p p p
q kv kv
r r, r̩ r
ŕ r̩ː ŕ
s s s
š ʃ, ʂ š
t t t
ť c, tʲ ť
u u u
ú ú
v v v
w v v
x ks ks
y ɪ i
ý í
z z z
ž ʒ, ʐ ž

Some additional notes includes the following (transcriptions in IPA unless otherwise stated):

  • Pronunciation of ä as [æ] is already archaic (or dialectical) but still considered correct by some authorities; the standard pronunciation today is [ɛ].[8]
  • r and l can be syllabi:c /r̩/ and /l̩/. When they are long (indicated in the spelling with the acute accent: ŕ and ĺ), they are always syllabic. E.g., vlk (wolf), prst (finger), štvrť (quarter), krk (neck), bisyllabic vĺčavĺ-ča (wolfling), vŕbavŕ-ba (willow-tree), etc.
  • ch, normally the unvoiced [x].
  • The graphic group -ou (at the end of words) is pronounced [ɔu̯] but is not considered a separate diphthong. Its phonemic interpretation is /ov/.
  • ia, ie, iu form diphthongs /i̯a/ /i̯e/ /i̯u/ in native Slovak words, but two monophthongs in foreign and loan words.
  • m has the allophone [ɱ] in front of the labiodental fricatives /f/ and /v/.
  • n in front of (post)alveolar fricatives has an allophone written as /n̠/ in Slovak phonemic transcription.
  • n can be [ŋ] in front of the velar plosives /k/ and /ɡ/.


The main features of Slovak syntax are as follows:

Some examples include the following:

Speváčka spieva. (The+female+singer is+singing.)
(Speváčk-a spieva-0, where -0 is a third person singular ending)
Speváčky spievajú. (Female+singers are+singing.)
(Speváčk-y spieva-j-ú; -ú is a third person plural ending, and /j/ is a hiatus sound)
My speváčky spievame. (We the+female+singers are+singing.)
(My speváčk-y spieva-me, where -me is the first person plural ending)
and so forth.
  • Adjectives, pronouns and numerals agree in person, gender and case with the noun to which they refer.
  • Adjectives precedes their noun. Botanic or zoological terms are exceptions (e.g. mačka divá, literally "cat wild", Felis silvestris) as is the naming of Holy Spirit (Duch Svätý) in a majority of churches.

Word order in Slovak is relatively free, since strong inflection enables the identification of grammatical roles (subject, object, predicate, etc.) regardless of word placement. This relatively free word order allows the use of word order to convey topic and emphasis.

Some examples are as follows:

Ten veľký muž tam dnes otvára obchod. = That big man opens a store there today. (ten = that; veľký = big; muž = man; tam = there; dnes = today; otvára = opens; obchod = store) - The word order does not emphasize any specific detail, just general information.
Ten veľký muž dnes otvára obchod tam. = That big man is today opening a store there. - This word order emphasizes the place (tam = there).
Dnes tam otvára obchod ten veľký muž. = Today over there a store is being opened by that big man. - This word order focuses on the person who is opening the store (ten = that; veľký = big; muž = man).
Obchod tam dnes otvára ten veľký muž. = The store over there is today being opened by that big man. - Depending on the pronunciation the focus can be either on the store itself or on the person.

The unmarked order is subject–verb–object. Nevertheless, word order is not completely free. In the above example, the following combinations are not possible:

Ten otvára veľký muž tam dnes obchod.
Obchod muž tam ten veľký dnes otvára. ...

And the following are not correct:

Otvára ten veľký muž tam dnes obchod? (Correct is Ten veľký muž tam dnes otvára obchod? or Ten veľký muž dnes otvára obchod tam? or Tam dnes otvára obchod ten veľký muž?)
Obchod ten veľký muž dnes tam otvára. (Only possible in a poem or a similar style.)



The Slovak language contains no articles. The demonstrative pronoun ten (fem: tá, neuter: to) may be used in front of the noun in situations where definiteness must be indicated.

Nouns, adjectives, pronouns[edit]


The numerals 0-10 have unique forms. 11-19 are formed by the numeral plus "násť." Compound numerals (21, 1054) are combinations of these words formed in the same order as their mathematical symbol is written (e.g. 21 = dvadsaťjeden, literally "twenty one").

The numerals are as follows: (1) jeden (jedno (neuter), jedna (feminine)), (2) dva (dve (neuter, feminine)), (3) tri, (4) štyri, (5) päť, (6) šesť, (7) sedem, (8) osem, (9) deväť, (10) desať, (11) jedenásť, (12) dvanásť, (13) trinásť, (14) štrnásť, (15) pätnásť, (16) šestnásť, (17) sedemnásť, (18) osemnásť, (19) devätnásť, (20) dvadsať, (21) dvadsaťjeden,... (30) tridsať, (31) tridsaťjeden,... (40) štyridsať,... (50) päťdesiat,... (60) šesťdesiat,... (70) sedemdesiat,... (80) osemdesiat,... (90) deväťdesiat,... (100) sto, (101) stojeden,... (200) dvesto,... (300) tristo,... (900)deväťsto,... (1,000) tisíc,... (1,100) tisícsto,... (2,000) dvetisíc,... (100,000) stotisíc,... (200,000) dvestotisíc,... (1,000,000) milión,... (1,000,000,000) miliarda,...

Counted nouns have two forms. The most common form is the plural genitive (e.g. päť domov = five houses or stodva žien = one hundred two women), while the plural form of the noun when counting the amounts of 2, 3, 4, etc., is the nominative form without counting (e.g. dva domy = two houses or dve ženy = two women).


Verbs have three major conjugations. Three persons and two numbers (singular and plural) are distinguished. Several conjugation paradigms exist as follows:

  • á-type verbs
volať, to call Singular Plural Past Participle (masculine - feminine - neuter)
1st Person volám voláme volal - volala - volalo
2nd Person voláš voláte
3rd Person volá volajú
  • á-type verbs (rhythmic law)
bývať, to live Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person bývam bývame býval - bývala - bývalo
2nd Person bývaš bývate
3rd Person býva bývajú
  • á-type verbs (soft stem)
vracať, to return or (mostly in slang) to vomit Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vraciam vraciame vracal - vracala - vracalo
2nd Person vraciaš vraciate
3rd Person vracia vracajú
  • í-type verbs
robiť, to do, work Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person robím robíme robil - robila - robilo
2nd Person robíš robíte
3rd Person robí robia
  1. í-Type Verbs - rhythmic law
vrátiť, to return Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vrátim vrátime vrátil - vrátila - vrátilo
2nd Person vrátiš vrátite
3rd Person vráti vrátia
  • ie-type verbs
vidieť, to see Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person vidím vidíme videl - videla - videlo
2nd Person vidíš vidíte
3rd Person vidí vidia
  • e-type verbs (ovať)
kupovať, to buy Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person kupujem kupujeme kupoval - kupovala - kupovalo
2nd Person kupuješ kupujete
3rd Person kupuje kupujú
  • e-type verbs (typically -cnuť)
zabudnúť, to forget Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person zabudnem zabudneme zabudol - zabudla - zabudlo
2nd Person zabudneš zabudnete
3rd Person zabudne zabudnú
  • ie-type verbs (typically -vnuť)
minúť, to spend, miss Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person miniem minieme minul - minula - minulo
2nd Person minieš miniete
3rd Person minie minú
  • ie-type verbs (-cť, -sť, -zť)
niesť, to carry Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person nesiem nesieme niesol - niesla - nieslo
2nd Person nesieš nesiete
3rd Person nesie nesú
  • ie-type verbs (-nieť)
stučnieť, to carry (be fat) Singular Plural Past Participle
1st Person stučniem stučnieme stučnel - stučnela - stučnelo
2nd Person stučnieš stučniete
3rd Person stučnie stučnejú
  • Irregular Verbs
byť, to be jesť, to eat vedieť, to know
1st Sg som jem viem
2nd Sg si ješ vieš
3rd Sg je je vie
1st Pl sme jeme vieme
2nd Pl ste jete viete
3rd Pl jedia vedia
Past Participle bol, bola, bolo jedol, jedla, jedlo vedel, vedela, vedelo
  • Subject personal pronouns are omitted unless they are emphatic.
  • Some imperfective verbs are created from the stems of perfective verbs to denote repeated or habitual actions. These are considered separate lexemes. One example is as follows: to hide (perfective) = skryť, to hide (habitual) = skrývať.
  • Historically, two past tense forms were utilized. Both are formed analytically. The second of these, equivalent to the pluperfect, is not used in the modern language, being considered archaic and/or grammatically incorrect. Examples for two related verbs are as follows:
skryť: skryl som (I hid / I have hidden); bol som skryl (I had hidden)
skrývať: skrýval som; bol som skrýval.
  • One future tense exists. For imperfective verbs, it is formed analytically, for perfective verbs it is identical with the present tense. Some examples are as follows:
skryť: skryjem
skrývať: budem skrývať
  • Two conditional forms exist. Both are formed analytically from the past tense:
skryť: skryl by som (I would hide), bol by som skryl (I would have hidden)
skrývať: skrýval by som; bol by som skrýval
  • The passive voice is formed either as in English (to be + past participle) or using the reflexive pronoun 'sa':
skryť: je skrytý; sa skryje
skrývať: je skrývaný; sa skrýva
  • The active present participle (= ~ing (one)) is formed using the suffixes –úci/ -iaci / - aci
skryť: skryjúci
skrývať: skrývajúci
skryť: skryjúc (by hiding (perfective))
skrývať: skrývajúc ((while/during) hiding)
  • The active past participle (= ~ing (in the past)) was formerly formed using the suffix –vší, but is no longer used.
  • The passive participle (= ~ed (one), the "third form") is formed using the suffixes -ný / -tý / -ený:
skryť: skrytý
skrývať: skrývaný
  • The gerund (= the (process of) is formed using the suffix –ie:
skryť: skrytie
skrývať: skrývanie


Adverbs are formed by replacing the adjectival ending with the ending –o or –e/-y. Sometimes both –o and -e are possible. Examples includes the following:

vysoký (high) – vysoko (highly)
pekný (nice) – pekne (nicely)
priateľský (friendly) – priateľsky (in a friendly manner)
rýchly (fast) – rýchlo (quickly)

The comparative/superlative of adverbs is formed by replacing the adjectival ending with a comparative/superlative ending -(ej)ší or –(ej)šie. Examples include the following:

rýchly (fast) – rýchlejší (faster) – najrýchlejší (fastest): rýchlo (quickly) – rýchlejšie (more quickly) – najrýchlejšie (most quickly)


Each preposition is associated with one or more grammatical cases. The noun governed by a preposition must appear in the case required by the preposition in the given context (e.g. from friends = od priateľov). Priateľov is the genitive case of priatelia. It must appear in this case because the preposition od (=from) always calls for its objects to be in the genitive.

around the square = po námestí (locative case)
past the square = po námestie (accusative case)

Po has a different meaning depending on the case of its governed noun.


Relationships to other languages[edit]

The Slovak language is a descendant of Proto-Slavic, itself a descendant of Proto-Indo-European. It is closely related to the other West Slavic languages, primarily to Czech. It has been also influenced by German, English, Latin and Hungarian.


While most dialects of Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible (see Comparison of Slovak and Czech), eastern Slovak dialects are less intelligible to speakers of Czech; they differ from Czech and from other Slovak dialects, and mutual contact between speakers of Czech and speakers of the eastern dialects is limited.

Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia it has been allowed to use Czech in TV broadcasting and - like any other language of the world - during court proceedings (Administration Procedure Act 99/1963 Zb.). From 1999 to August 2009, the Minority Language Act 184/1999 Z.z., in its section (§) 6, contained the variously interpreted unclear provision saying that "When applying this act, it holds that the use of the Czech language fulfills the requirement of fundamental intelligibility with the state language" ; the state language is Slovak and the Minority Language Act basically refers to municipalities with more than 20% ethnic minority population (no such Czech municipalities are found in Slovakia). Since 1 September 2009 (due to an amendment to the State Language Act 270/1995 Z.z.) a language "fundamentally intelligible with the state language" (i.e., the Czech language) may be used in contact with state offices and bodies by its native speakers, and documents written in it and issued by bodies in the Czech Republic are officially accepted. Regardless of its official status, Czech is used commonly both in Slovak mass media and in daily communication by Czech natives as an equal language.

Czech and Slovak have a long history of interaction and mutual influence well before the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. Literary Slovak shares significant orthographic features with Czech, as well as technical and professional terminology dating from the Czechoslovak period, but phonetic, grammatical, and vocabulary differences do exist.

Other Slavic languages[edit]

Slavic language varieties tend to be closely related, and have had a large degree of mutual influence, due to the complicated ethnopolitical history of their historic ranges. This is reflected in the many features Slovak shares with neighboring language varieties. Standard Slovak shares high degrees of mutual intelligibility with many Slavic varieties. Despite this closeness to other Slavic varieties, significant variation exists among Slovak dialects. In particular, eastern varieties differ significantly from the standard language, which is based on central and western varieties.

Eastern Slovak dialects have the greatest degree of mutual intelligibility with Rusyn of all the Slovak dialects, but both lack technical terminology and upper register expressions. Polish and Sorbian also differ quite considerably from Czech and Slovak in upper registers, but non-technical and lower register speech is readily intelligible. Some mutual intelligibility occurs with spoken Rusyn, Ukrainian, and even Russian (in this order), although their orthographies are based on the Cyrillic script.

Similarities are found with the western Southern Slavic languages (e.g. Serbo-Croatian language) and to a lesser degree, with Slovenian (stemming from the time before the arrival of the Hungarians in Central Europe).[citation needed]

English word Slovak Czech Rusyn Ukrainian Belarusian Polish Serbo-Croatian Bulgarian Slovenian
to buy kupovať kupovat куповати (kupovati) купувати (kupuvaty) купляць (kupliać) kupować kupovati купува (kupuva) kupovati
Welcome! Vitajte! Vítejte Вітайте! (vitajte!) Вітаю! (vitaju!) Вітаю! (vitaju!) Witajcie Dobrodošli! добре дошли (dobre došli) Dobrodošli!
morning ráno ráno рано (rano) рано/ранок (rano/ranok) рана/ранак (rana/ranak) rano/ranek jutro утро (utro) jutro
Thank you Ďakujem Děkuji Дякую (diakuju) Дякую (diakuju) Дзякуй (dziakuj) Dziękuję Hvala благодаря (blagodarja) Hvala
How are you? Ako sa máš? Jak se máš? Як ся маєш/маш?
(jak śa maješ/maš?)
Як справи? (jak spravy?) Як справы? (jak spravy?) Jak się masz? Kako si? Как си? (Kak si?) Kako si? (sing.)
Як ся маєш?
(jak śa maješ?)
Як маесься?
(jak majeśsia?)
Kako sta? (dual)
Kako ste? (plural)



weekend - víkend, football - futbal, ham & eggs - hemendex, offside - ofsajd, out (football) - aut, body check (hockey) - bodyček


German loanwords include "coins," Slovak mince, German Münze; "to wish", Slovak vinšovať (colloquially, the standard term is želať), German wünschen; "funfair," Slovak jarmok , German Jahrmarkt and "color," Slovak farba, German Farbe.[9]


Hungarians and Slovaks have had a language interaction ever since the settlement of Hungarians in the Carpathian area. Hungarians adopted many words from various Slavic languages related to agriculture and administration, and a number of Hungarian loanwords are found in Slovak. Some examples are as follows:

  • "wicker whip": Slovak korbáč (the standard name for "whip" is bič and korbáč, itself originating from Turkish kırbaç, usually means only 1 particular type of it—the "wicker whip") – Hungarian korbács;
  • "dragon/kite": Slovak šarkan (rather rare, drak is far more common in this meaning; šarkan often means only "kite", esp. a small one that is flown for fun and this term is far more common than drak in this meaning; for the "dragon kite", the term drak is still used almost exclusively) – Hungarian sárkány.[10]
  • "rumour": Slovak chýr – Hungarian hír;
  • "camel": Slovak ťava – Hungarian teve;
  • "ditch": Slovak jarok – Hungarian árok;


Romanian words entered the Slovak language in the course of the so-called "Wallachian colonization" in the 14th-16th century when sheep breeding became common in Slovak mountains. Many of today's Slovak rustic-pastoral words like bača ("shepherd"; Rmn. baci), valach ("young shepherd"; cf. the dated exonym for Romanians, "Valach"), magura ("hill"; Rmn. măgura), koliba("chalet"; Rmn. coliba), bryndza (a variety of sheep cheese; Rmn. brânză), striga ("witch", "demon"; Rmn. "strigă/strigoi"), etc. were introduced into the Slovak language by Romanian shepherds during the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Times. The Romanian influence is most strongly felt in the dialects of the Moravian Wallachia region.


Official usage of Slovak language in Vojvodina, Serbia

Many Slovak dialects exist which are divided into the following four basic groups:

The fourth group of dialects is often not considered a separate group, but a subgroup of Central and Western Slovak dialects (see e.g. Štolc, 1968), but it is currently undergoing changes due to contact with surrounding languages (Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian) and long-time geographical separation from Slovakia (see the studies in Zborník Spolku vojvodinských slovakistov, e.g. Dudok, 1993).

For an external map of the three groups in Slovakia see here.

The dialect groups differ mostly in phonology, vocabulary, and tonal inflection. Syntactic differences are minor. Central Slovak forms the basis of the present-day standard language. Not all dialects are fully mutually intelligible. It may be difficult for an inhabitant of the Slovak capital Bratislava (in western Slovakia) to understand a dialect from eastern Slovakia.

The dialects are fragmented geographically, separated by numerous mountain ranges. The first three groups already existed in the 10th century. All of them are spoken by the Slovaks outside Slovakia (USA, Canada, Croatian Slavonia, and elsewhere), and central and western dialects form the basis of the lowland dialects (see above).

The western dialects contain features common with the Moravian dialects in the Czech Republic, the southern central dialects contain a few features common with South Slavic languages, and the eastern dialects a few features common with Polish and the East Slavonic languages (cf. Štolc, 1994). Lowland dialects share some words and areal features with the languages surrounding them (Serbian, Hungarian, and Romanian).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Slovak at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ E.g. law 500/2004, 337/1992. Source:
  3. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:375–376)
  4. ^ Short (2002:534)
  5. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  6. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  7. ^ Recasens (2013:11,13)
  8. ^ Kráľ, Ábel (1988). Pravidlá slovenskej výslovnosti. Bratislava: Slovenské pedagogické nakladateľstvo. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Magyar Nyelvőr – Pacsai Imre: Magyar–szlovák kulturális és nyelvi kapcsolat jegyei


  • Dudok, D. (1993) Vznik a charakter slovenských nárečí v juhoslovanskej Vojvodine [The emergence and character of the Slovak dialects in Yugoslav Vojvodina]. Zborník spolku vojvodinských slovakistov 15. Nový Sad: Spolok vojvodinských slovakistov, pp. 19–29.
  • Hanulíková, Adriana; Hamann, Silke (2010), "Slovak", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (3): 373–378, doi:10.1017/S0025100310000162 
  • Musilová, K. and Sokolová, M. (2004) Funkčnost česko-slovenských kontaktových jevů v současnosti [The functionality of Czech-Slovak contact phenomena in the present-time]. In Fiala, J. and Machala, L. (eds.) Studia Moravica I (AUPO, Facultas Philosophica Moravica 1). Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci, pp. 133–146.
  • Nábělková, M. (2003) Súčasné kontexty slovensko-českej a česko-slovenskej medzijazykovosti [Contemporary contexts of the Slovak-Czech and Czech-Slovak interlinguality]. In Pospíšil, I. – Zelenka, M. (eds.) Česko-slovenské vztahy v slovanských a středoevropských souvislostech (meziliterárnost a areál). Brno: ÚS FF MU, pp. 89–122.
  • Nábělková, M. (2006) V čom bližšie, v čom ďalej... Spisovná slovenčina vo vzťahu k spisovnej češtine a k obecnej češtine [In what closer, in what further... Standard Slovak in relation to Standard Czech and Common Czech]. In Gladkova, H. and Cvrček, V. (eds.) Sociální aspekty spisovných jazyků slovanských. Praha: Euroslavica, pp. 93–106.
  • Nábělková, M. (2007) Closely related languages in contact: Czech, Slovak, "Czechoslovak". International Journal of the Sociology of Language 183, pp. 53–73.
  • Nábělková, M. (2008) Slovenčina a čeština v kontakte: Pokračovanie príbehu. [Slovak and Czech in Contact: Continuation of the Story]. Bratislava/Praha: Veda/Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy. 364 pp., ISBN 978-80-224-1060-1
  • Recasens, Daniel (2013), "On the articulatory classification of (alveolo)palatal consonants", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43 (1): 1–22, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000199 
  • Short, David (2002), "Slovak", in Comrie, Bernard; Corbett, Greville G., The Slavonic Languages, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 533–592, ISBN 9780415280785 
  • Sloboda, M. (2004) Slovensko-česká (semi)komunikace a vzájemná (ne)srozumitelnost [Slovak-Czech (semi)communication and the mutual (un)intelligibility]. Čeština doma a ve světě XII, No. 3–4, pp. 208–220.
  • Sokolová, M. (1995) České kontaktové javy v slovenčine [Czech contact phenomena in Slovak]. In Ondrejovič, S. and Šimková, M. (eds.) Sociolingvistické aspekty výskumu súčasnej slovenčiny (Sociolinguistica Slovaca 1). Bratislava: Veda, pp. 188–206.
  • Štolc, Jozef (1968) Reč Slovákov v Juhoslávii I.: Zvuková a gramatická stavba [The speech of the Slovaks in Yugoslavia: phonological and grammatical structure]. Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo Slovenskej akadémie vied.
  • Štolc, Jozef (1994) Slovenská dialektológia [Slovak dialectology]. Ed. I. Ripka. Bratislava: Veda.

External links[edit]