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What Language Do They Speak in Slovakia?

What Language Do They Speak in Slovakia

Key Takeaways

InformationDescription
Official Language:Slovak
Language Family:Indo-European
Dialects:Eastern Slovak, Central Slovak, Western Slovak
Minority Languages:Hungarian, Romani, Ruthenian
Percentage of English Speakers:Approximately 30%

Introduction

Slovakia, a beautiful landlocked country in Central Europe, boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes, and a unique linguistic tapestry. The Slovak language, an essential part of the country’s cultural identity, has evolved through the centuries influenced by various historical events and interactions with neighboring nations.

The Slovak Language

Slovak (or Slovenský jazyk) is the official language of Slovakia. It’s part of the West Slavic group of languages, which also includes Czech, Polish, and Sorbian.

Slovak’s Place in the Language Tree

Language FamilySubfamilySpecific Group
Indo-EuropeanSlavicWest Slavic

Slovak is closely related to Czech, and the two languages share a high degree of mutual intelligibility. This means that speakers of one language can often understand the other to a considerable extent without prior study.

Dialects of Slovak

The Slovak language can be broadly divided into three main dialects:

  1. Eastern Slovak: Spoken in the eastern parts of the country, this dialect is influenced by Polish and Ukrainian due to geographical proximity.
  2. Central Slovak: This is the basis for the modern standard Slovak language and is spoken in the central parts of the country.
  3. Western Slovak: Influenced by Czech, this dialect is prevalent in the western regions of Slovakia.

Minority Languages

Apart from Slovak, several minority languages are spoken within Slovakia’s borders. The protection of these languages and the rights of their speakers are enshrined in Slovak law.

Key Minority Languages:

  • Hungarian: Approximately 9% of Slovakia’s population are ethnic Hungarians. They predominantly reside in the southern parts of the country, especially near the Hungarian border.
  • Romani: The Romani community, making up around 2% of the population, predominantly speaks the Romani language. They are spread out across Slovakia, with a higher concentration in the eastern regions.
  • Ruthenian: Spoken by the Ruthenians, a Slavic ethnic group. This language is mostly found in the northeastern parts of Slovakia.

English and Other Foreign Languages in Slovakia

English is becoming increasingly popular in Slovakia, especially among the younger generation. The integration of Slovakia into the European Union and the increasing importance of English in global commerce and tourism have driven its growth.

Percentage of Slovakians Fluent in Foreign Languages:

  • English: Approximately 30%
  • German: 20%
  • Russian: 15%
  • Hungarian: 12%
  • Other Languages: 23%

Conclusion

Slovakia’s linguistic landscape is as diverse as its history. While Slovak is the official and most widely spoken language, the country’s cultural richness is further enhanced by its minority languages. Understanding the linguistic nuances of Slovakia offers a deeper insight into its heritage, its ties with neighboring countries, and its journey into modern-day Europe.

Whether you’re planning to visit Slovakia, conduct business, or simply expand your global knowledge, understanding its language and dialects will undoubtedly enrich your experience.