Slovene (/ˈsloʊviːn/ ( listen) or /sloʊˈviːn, slə-/) or Slovenian (/sloʊˈviːniən, slə-/ ( listen); slovenski jezik or slovenščina) belongs to the group of South Slavic languages. It is spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. It is the first language of about 2.1 million Slovenian people and is one of the 24 official and working languages of the European Union.
1 Standard Slovene 2 Classification 3 History
3.1 Early history 3.2 Recent history
4 Geographic distribution 5 Dialects 6 Phonology
6.1 Consonants 6.2 Vowels
8.1 T–V distinction 8.2 Foreign words 8.3 Articles 8.4 Numbers
9 Writing system
9.1.1 Non-tonemic diacritics 9.1.2 Tonemic diacritics
10 Regulation 11 References 12 Bibliography 13 External links
13.1 Grammars 13.2 Corpora 13.3 Dictionaries
Standard Slovene is the national standard language that was formed in
the 18th century, mostly based on Upper and Lower Carniolan dialect
groups, the latter being a dialect spoken by Primož Trubar.
Unstandardized dialects are more preserved in regions of the Slovene
Lands where compulsory schooling was in languages other than Standard
Slovene, as was the case with the Carinthian
The Freising Manuscripts, dating from the late 10th or the early 11th century, are considered the oldest documents in Slovene
Like all Slavic languages, Slovene traces its roots to the same
proto-Slavic group of languages that produced Old Church Slavonic. The
earliest known examples of a distinct, written Slovene dialect are
from the Freising Manuscripts, known in Slovene as Brižinski
spomeniki. The consensus estimate of their date of origin is between
972 and 1039 (most likely before 1000). These religious writings are
among the oldest surviving manuscripts in any Slavic language.
A schematic map of Slovene dialects, based on the map by Fran Ramovš and other sources
Main article: Slovene dialects Slovene is sometimes characterized as the most diverse Slavic language in terms of dialects, with different degrees of mutual intelligibility. Accounts of the number of dialects range from as few as seven dialects, often considered dialect groups or dialect bases that are further subdivided into as many as 50 dialects. Other sources characterize the number of dialects as nine or eight. The Slovene proverb "Every village has its own voice" (Vsaka vas ima svoj glas) depicts the differences in dialects. Although pronunciation differs greatly from area to area, those differences do not pose major obstacles to understanding. The standard language is mainly used in public presentations or on formal occasions. The Prekmurje dialect used to have a written norm of its own at one point. The Resian dialects have an independent written norm that is used by their regional state institutions. Speakers of those two dialects have considerable difficulties with being understood by speakers of other varieties of Slovene, needing code-switching to Standard Slovene. Other dialects are mutually intelligible when speakers avoid the excessive usage of regionalisms. Regionalisms are mostly limited to culinary and agricultural expressions, although there are many exceptions. Some loanwords have become so deeply rooted in the local language that people have considerable difficulties in finding a standard expression for the dialect term (for instance, kovter meaning blanket is prešita odeja in Standard Slovene, but the latter term is never used in speech). Southwestern dialects incorporate a great deal of calques and loanwords from Italian, whereas eastern and northwestern dialects are replete with lexemes of German origin. Usage of such words hinders intelligibility between dialects and is greatly discouraged in formal situations. Phonology Main article: Slovene phonology Slovene has a phoneme set consisting of 21 consonants and 8 vowels. Consonants Slovene has 21 distinctive consonant phonemes.
Slovene consonant phonemes
Labial Dental/ Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal m n
Plosive voiceless p t
voiced b d
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ x
Approximant ʋ l j
All voiced obstruents are devoiced at the end of words unless immediately followed by a word beginning with a vowel or a voiced consonant. In consonant clusters, voicing distinction is neutralized and all consonants assimilate the voicing of the rightmost segment. In this context, [v], [ɣ] and [d͡z] may occur as voiced allophones of /f/, /x/ and /t͡s/, respectively (e.g. vŕh drevésa [ʋrɣ dreˈʋesa]). /ʋ/ has several allophones depending on context.
Before a vowel, pronunciation is labiodental, [ʋ] (also described as [v]). After a vowel, pronunciation is bilabial [w] and forms a diphthong. At the beginning of a syllable, before a consonant (for example in vsi "all"), the pronunciation varies more widely by speaker and area. Many speakers convert /ʋ/ into a full vowel [u] in this position. For those speakers that retain a consonantal pronunciation, it is pronounced [w] before a voiced consonant and [ʍ] before a voiceless consonant. Thus, vsi may be pronounced as disyllabic [uˈsi] or monosyllabic [ʍsi].
The sequences /lj/, /nj/ and /rj/ occur only before a vowel. Before a consonant or word-finally, they are reduced to /l/, /n/ and /r/ respectively. This is reflected in the spelling in the case of /rj/, but not for /lj/ and /nj/. Under certain (somewhat unpredictable) circumstances, /l/ at the end of a syllable may become [w], merging with the allophone of /ʋ/ in that position. Vowels
Vowels of Slovene, from Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:137). /ɐ/ is not shown.
Slovene has an eight-vowel (according to Peter Jurgec nine-vowel) system, in comparison to the five-vowel system of Serbo-Croatian.
Front Central Back
Close-mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Grammar Main article: Slovene grammar Nouns Main article: Slovene nouns Slovene nouns retain six of the seven Slavic noun cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, locative and instrumental. There is no distinct vocative; the nominative is used in that role. Nouns, adjectives and pronouns have three numbers: singular, plural and a special dual form that indicates exactly two objects. Nouns in Slovene are either masculine, feminine or neuter gender. In addition, there is a distinction between animate and inanimate nouns, although this is only relevant for masculine nouns and only in the singular. Animate nouns have an accusative singular form that is identical to the genitive, while for inanimate nouns the accusative singular is the same as the nominative. Animacy is based mostly on semantics and is less rigid than gender. Generally speaking a noun is animate if it refers to something that is generally thought to have free will or the ability to move of its own accord. This includes all nouns for people and animals. All other nouns are inanimate, including plants and other non-moving life forms, and also groups of people or animals. However, there are some nouns for inanimate objects that are generally animate, which mostly include inanimate objects that are named after people or animals. This includes:
Dead people or animals Brands of cars Certain diseases (named after animals) Certain devices (named after animals or people) Works of art (named after their creator) Chess pieces and playing cards (named for the people they represent) Wines and mushrooms (named as demonyms)
Vocabulary T–V distinction
Tombstone of Jožef Nahtigal in Dobrova with archaic Slovene onikanje in indirect reference. Literal translation "Here lie [počivajo] the honorable Jožef Nahtigal ... they were born [rojeni] ... they died [umerli] ... God grant them [jim] eternal peace and rest."
Slovene, like most other European languages, has a T–V distinction, or two forms of 'you' for formal and informal situations. Although informal address using the 2nd person singular ti form (known as tikanje) is officially limited to friends and family, talk among children, and addressing animals, it is increasingly used among the middle generation to signal a relaxed attitude or lifestyle instead of its polite or formal counterpart using the 2nd person plural vi form (known as vikanje). An additional nonstandard but widespread use of a singular participle combined with a plural auxiliary verb (known as polvikanje) signals a somewhat more friendly and less formal attitude while maintaining politeness:
Vi ga niste videli. ('You did not see him': both the auxiliary verb niste and the participle videli are plural masculine. Standard usage.) Vi ga niste videl/videla. ('You did not see him': the auxiliary verb niste is plural but the participle videl/videla is singular masculine/feminine. Nonstandard usage.)
The use of nonstandard forms (polvikanje) might be frowned upon by many people and would not likely be used in a formal setting. The use of the 3rd person plural oni ('they') form (known as onikanje in both direct address and indirect reference; this is similar to using Sie in German) as an ultra-polite form is now archaic or dialectal. It is associated with servant-master relationships in older literature, the child-parent relationship in certain conservative rural communities, and parishioner-priest relationships. Foreign words Foreign words used in Slovene are of various types depending on the assimilation they have undergone. The types are:
sposojenka (loanword) – fully assimilated; e.g. pica ('pizza'). tujka (foreign word) – partly assimilated, either in writing and syntax or in pronunciation; e.g. jazz, wiki. polcitatna beseda ali besedna zveza (half-quoted word or phrase) – partly assimilated, either in writing and syntax or in pronunciation; e.g. Shakespeare, but Shakespearja in genitive case. citatna beseda ali besedna zveza (quoted word or phrase) – kept as in original, although pronunciation may be altered to fit into speech flow; e.g. first lady in all cases.
The loanwords are mostly from German and Italian, while the more
recently borrowed and less assimilated words are typically from
There are no definite or indefinite articles as in English (a, an,
the) or German (der, die, das, ein, eine). A whole verb or a noun is
described without articles and the grammatical gender is found from
the word's termination. It is enough to say barka (a or the barge),
Noetova barka ('Noah's ark'). The gender is known in this case to be
feminine. In declensions, endings are normally changed; see below. If
one should like to somehow distinguish between definiteness or
indefiniteness of a noun, one would say (prav/natanko/ravno) tista
barka ('that (exact) barge') for "the barge" and neka/ena barka ('one
barge') for "a barge".
Definiteness of a noun phrase can also be discernible through the
ending of the accompanying adjective. One should say rdeči šotor
([exactly that] red tent) or rdeč šotor ([a] red tent). This
difference is observable only for masculine nouns in nominative or
accusative case. Because of the lack of article in Slovene and audibly
insignificant difference between the masculine adjective forms, most
dialects do not distinguish between definite and indefinite variants
of the adjective, leading to hypercorrection when speakers try to use
Main article: Slovene numerals
letter phoneme example word word pronunciation
A a /aː/ /a/ dan "day" abeceda "alphabet" /ˈdáːn/, dȃn /abɛˈtséːda/, abecẹ̑da
B b /b/ beseda "word" /bɛˈséːda/, besẹ̑da
C c /t͡s/ cvet "bloom" /ˈtsʋéːt/, cvẹ̑t
Č č /t͡ʃ/ časopis "newspaper" /tʃasɔˈpíːs/, časopı̑s
D d /d/ danes "today" /ˈdàːnəs/, dánəs
E e /eː/ /ɛː/ /ɛ/ /ə/ sedem "seven" reči "to say" medved "bear" sem "I am" /ˈsèːdəm/, sẹ́dəm /ˈrɛ̀ːtʃi/, réči /ˈmɛ̀ːdʋɛt/, médved /ˈsə́m/, sə̏m
F f /f/ fant "boy" /ˈfánt/, fȁnt
G g /ɡ/ grad "castle" /ˈɡráːt/, grȃd
H h /x/ hiša "house" /ˈxìːʃa/, híša
I i /iː/ /i/ biti "to be" imeti "to have" /ˈbìːti/, bíti /iˈmèːti/, imẹ́ti
J j /j/ jabolko "apple" /ˈjàːbɔwkɔ/, jábołko
K k /k/ kmèt "peasant" /ˈkmɛ́t/, kmȅt
L l /l/ /w/ letalo "airplane" zrel "mature" /lɛˈtàːlɔ/, letálo /ˈzrɛ́w/, zrȅł
M m /m/ misliti "to think" /ˈmìːsliti/, mísliti
N n /n/ novice "news" /nɔˈʋìːtsɛ/, novíce
O o /oː/ /ɔː/ /ɔ/ opica "monkey" okno "window" gospa "lady" /ˈóːpitsa/, ọ̑pica /ˈɔ̀ːknɔ/, ókno /ɡɔˈspàː/, gospá
P p /p/ pomoč "help" /pɔˈmóːtʃ/, pomọ̑č
R r /r/ /ər/ riž "rice" trg "square" /ˈríːʃ/, rȋž /ˈtə́rk/, tȓg
S s /s/ svet "world" /ˈsʋéːt/, svẹ̑t
Š š /ʃ/ šola "school" /ˈʃóːla/, šọ̑la
T t /t/ tip "type" /ˈtíːp/, tȋp
U u /uː/ /u/ ulica "street" mamut "mammoth" /ˈùːlitsa/, úlica /ˈmáːmut/, mȃmut
V v /ʋ/ /w/ voda "water" lev "lion" /ˈʋɔ̀ːda/, vóda /ˈlɛ́w/, lȅv
Z z /z/ zima "winter" /ˈzìːma/, zíma
Ž ž /ʒ/ življenje "life" /ʒiwˈljɛ̀ːnjɛ/, življénje
The orthography thus underdifferentiates several phonemic distinctions:
Stress, vowel length and tone are not distinguished, except with optional diacritics when it is necessary to distinguish between similar words with a different meaning. The two distinct mid-vowels are also not distinguished, both written as simply ⟨e⟩ and ⟨o⟩. The schwa /ə/ is also written as ⟨e⟩. However, the combination /ər/ is written as simply ⟨r⟩ between consonants and is thus distinguishable. Vocalised l /w/ is written as ⟨l⟩, but cannot be predictably distinguished from /l/ in that position.
In the tonemic varieties of Slovene, the ambiguity is even worse: e in a final syllable can stand for any of /éː/ /èː/ /ɛ́ː/ /ɛ̀ː/ /ɛ/ /ə/ (although /ɛ̀ː/ is rare). The reader is expected to gather the interpretation of the word from the context, as in these examples:
/ˈɡɔ́w/ gȍł "naked" /ˈɡóːl/ gọ̑l "goal"
/ˈjɛ̀ːsɛn/ jésen "ash tree" /jɛˈséːn/ jesẹ̑n "autumn"
/ˈkòːt/ kọ́t "angle" /kɔt/ kot "as"
/mɛt/ med "between" /ˈméːt/ mẹ̑d "honey"
/ˈpóːl/ pọ̑l "pole" /ˈpóːw/ pọ̑ł "half" /ˈpɔ̀ːl/ pól "half an hour before (the hour)"
/ˈprɛ́tsɛj/ prȅcej "at once" (archaic) /prɛˈtséːj/ precẹ̑j or /prɛˈtsɛ́j/ precȅj "a great deal (of)"
Diacritics To compensate for the shortcomings of the standard orthography, Slovene also uses standardized diacritics or accent marks to denote stress, vowel length and pitch accent, much like the closely related Serbo-Croatian. However, as in Serbo-Croatian, use of such accent marks is restricted to dictionaries, language textbooks and linguistic publications. In normal writing, the diacritics are almost never used, except in a few minimal pairs where real ambiguity could arise. Two different and mutually incompatible systems of diacritics are used. The first is the simpler non-tonemic system, which can be applied to all Slovene dialects. It is more widely used and is the standard representation in dictionaries such as SSKJ. The tonemic system also includes tone as part of the representation. However, neither system reliably distinguishes schwa /ə/ from the front mid-vowels, nor vocalised l /w/ from regular l /l/. Some sources write these as ə and ł respectively, but this is not as common. Non-tonemic diacritics In the non-tonemic system, the distinction between the two mid-vowels is indicated, as well as the placement of stress and length of vowels:
Long stressed vowels are notated with an acute diacritic: á é í ó ú ŕ (IPA: /aː eː iː oː uː ər/). However, the rarer long stressed low-mid vowels /ɛː/ and /ɔː/ are notated with a circumflex: ê ô. Short stressed vowels are notated with a grave: à è ì ò ù (IPA: /a ɛ i ɔ u/). Some systems may also include ə̀ for /ə/.
The tonemic system uses the diacritics somewhat differently from the
non-tonemic system. The high-mid vowels /eː/ and /oː/ are written
ẹ ọ with a subscript dot, while the low-mid vowels /ɛː/ and
/ɔː/ are written as plain e o.
The acute ( ´ ) indicates long and low pitch: á é ẹ́ í ó ọ́ ú ŕ (IPA: /àː ɛ̀ː èː ìː ɔ̀ː òː ùː ə̀r/). The inverted breve ( ̑ ) or the circumflex ( ^ ) indicates long and high pitch: ȃ ȇ ẹ̑ ȋ ȏ ọ̑ ȗ ȓ (IPA: /éː ɛ́ː éː íː ɔ́ː óː úː ə́r/). The grave ( ` ) indicates short and low pitch. This occurs only on è (IPA: /ə̀/), optionally written as ə̀. The double grave ( ̏ ) indicates short and high pitch: ȁ ȅ ȉ ȍ ȕ (IPA: á ɛ́ í ɔ́ ú). ȅ is also used for /ə́/, optionally written as ə̏.
The schwa vowel /ə/ is written ambiguously as e, but its accentuation
will sometimes distinguish it: a long vowel mark can never appear on a
schwa, while a grave accent can appear only on a schwa. Thus, only ȅ
and unstressed e are truly ambiguous.
Standard Slovene spelling and grammar are defined by the Orthographic
Committee and the
^ "Slovenski pravopis 2001: slovenski".
^ "Slovenski pravopis 2001: jezik".
^ "Slovenski pravopis 2001: slovenščina".
^ "International Mother Language Day 2010". Statistical Office of the
Republic of Slovenia. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 29 January
^ "Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
Greenberg, Mark L. (2006), A Short Reference Grammar of Standard Slovene, Kansas: University of Kansas Herrity, Peter (2000), Slovene: A Comprehensive Grammar, London: Routledge, ISBN 0415231485 Jurgec, Peter (2007), Schwa in Slovenian is Epenthetic, Berlin Šolar, Jakob (1950), Slovenski pravopis (in Slovenian), Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije Šuštaršič, Rastislav; Komar, Smiljana; Petek, Bojan (1999), "Slovene", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–139, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 Toporišič, Jože (2001), Slovenski pravopis, Ljubljana: SAZU
Slovenian edition of, the free encyclopedia
Slovenian edition of Wikisource, the free library
Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Slovenian.
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Slovene
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Slovene language.
Centre for Slovene as a Second/Foreign Language Slovenian Phonology
Slovenian National Corpus 600 M words corpus of Slovenian FidaPLUS 200 M words corpus of Slovenian Nova beseda
(in Slovene) Standard Slovene Dictionary (SSKJ) (in Slovene) Comprehensive list of the Slovene dictionaries (in Slovene) Spletni Slovar (Multilingual Dictionary)
v t e
Languages of Slovenia
Croatian German Hungarian Italian Romani Serbian
Yugoslav Sign Language
v t e
Languages of Italy
Italian Sign Language Regional Italian
Marchigiano Sabino Romanesco
Barese Irpinian Molisan Cosentino Tarantino
Salentino Southern Calabrese
Dalmatian Castelmezzano[a] Manduriano Judaeo-Italian Vastese
Valdôtain Faetar Savoyard
Brigasc Genoese Intemelio Monégasque Royasc
Bustocco and Legnanese Comasco-Lecchese dialects
Comasco Laghée Vallassinese Lecchese
Varesino Southwestern Lombard
Pavese Novarese Cremunés
Gallo-Italic of Basilicata Gallo-Italic of Sicily
Fornes Friulian Ladin
Arbëresh Vaccarizzo Albanian
Brda Gail Valley Inner Carniolan Istrian Karst Natisone Valley Resian Torre Valley
Calabrian Greek Griko
Cimbrian Mòcheno Southern Bavarian
Austrian German Walser Yiddish
^ Castelmezzano may also be defined as an Eastern Romance language, though the Italo-Dalmation group may itself be defined as a subdivision of Eastern Romance languages depending on the source
v t e
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West Slavic languages
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East Slavic languages
Belarusian Iazychie Old East Slavic Old Novgorodian Russian Ruthenian Ukrainian
South Slavic languages
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Bosnian Croatian Montenegrin Serbian
Church Slavonic Pan-Slavic language
Separate Slavic dialects and microlanguages
Balachka Banat Bulgarian Burgenland Croatian Carpathian Rusyn Canadian Ukrainian Chakavian Cieszyn Silesian Czechoslovak Eastern Slovak Kajkavian Knaanic Lach Lesser Polish Masovian Masurian Moravian Molise Croatian Pannonian Rusyn Podhale Prekmurje Slovene Resian Shtokavian Silesian Slavic dialects of Greece Surzhyk Torlakian Trasianka West Polesian
Slavic first palatalization Slavic second palatalization Slavic liquid metathesis and pleophony Dybo's law Havlík's law Hirt's law Illič-Svityč's law Ivšić's law Meillet's law Pedersen's law Ruki sound law Winter's law
Italics indicate extinct languages.
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