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What Language Do They Speak in Slovenia?

What Language Do They Speak in Slovenia

Key Takeaway Table

Official LanguageSlovenian
Minority LanguagesHungarian, Italian
Population Speaking SlovenianApproximately 2.1 million
Language FamilySouth Slavic
Writing SystemLatin Script

Slovenia, a country nestled in Central Europe, is known for its majestic alpine landscapes, charming cities, and vibrant cultural scene. But what about its language? The answer is Slovenian, but there’s much more to explore about this captivating tongue.

The Historical Roots of the Slovenian Language

Slovenian, also known as Slovene, belongs to the South Slavic group of languages. It shares its roots with several other Slavic languages, such as Serbian, Croatian, and Bulgarian. The history of Slovenian traces back to the Old Slavic period, from which it evolved into its current form over centuries.

Table 1: Evolution of Slovenian Language

Old Slavic (6th–9th Century)Common ancestor of all Slavic languages. Introduction of Glagolitic alphabet.
Middle Slovenian (9th–16th Century)Development of specific Slovenian dialects. Start of written literature in Slovenian.
Modern Slovenian (16th Century–Present)Standardization of language. Adoption of Latin script. Introduction of modern vocabulary.

One of the most significant moments in Slovenian language history was the publication of the first book in Slovenian. Written by Primož Trubar in the 16th century, it laid the groundwork for the standardization of the language.

Dialects of Slovenian

Slovenia, despite its small size, has a rich tapestry of dialects. There are approximately seven main dialect groups, each having its own sub-dialects. Some of the major dialects include:

  • Upper Carniolan: Spoken in the northern part of Slovenia.
  • Lower Carniolan: Found in the southeastern regions.
  • Styrian: Predominant in eastern Slovenia.
  • Littoral: Used in the western coastal areas.

Table 2: Comparison of Words in Different Slovenian Dialects

English WordStandard SlovenianUpper CarniolanStyrianLittoral

As you can see, while there are differences in pronunciation and some vocabulary, the standard form of the language is understood across all regions.

Language Policies and Education

Slovenian is the official language of Slovenia and is taught in schools from an early age. All official documents, media broadcasts, and public communications are in Slovenian. The country also promotes the study and preservation of its language through cultural and educational policies.

However, regions where significant Hungarian and Italian minorities reside also have Hungarian or Italian as co-official languages. This means that in areas like Prekmurje (for Hungarian) and the coastal region (for Italian), official documents and education can also be in the minority language.

The Influence of Neighboring Countries

Slovenia is bordered by Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Croatia. This geographical position has influenced the Slovenian language in several ways:

  • Borrowed Words: There are loanwords from German, Hungarian, Italian, and Croatian in Slovenian. For instance, the word ‘šofer’ (driver) is borrowed from German ‘Chauffeur’.
  • Cultural Exchange: Due to shared histories and trade, many cultural concepts have been exchanged, influencing the language.


Slovenian, the heart and soul of Slovenia’s cultural identity, is a language with a rich history and diverse dialects. Despite the influences from neighboring countries and languages, Slovenian has maintained its unique characteristics, making it a symbol of national pride. Whether you’re planning to visit Slovenia or just fascinated by languages, understanding the nuances of Slovenian offers a window into the soul of this enchanting nation.