A Language Digest of Slovenian and its History

A Language Digest of Slovenian and its History

What is the Slovenian language? Who speaks it? What are some interesting facts about Slovenian? Continue reading to learn more about Slovenian.

What Language is Slovenian?

Slovenian, Slove, Slovenski Jezik, or Slovenščina is an Indo European, Balto-Slavic, Slavic, South Slavic language spoken by around 2.5 million people as of 2010. This language is primarily spoken in the Republic of Slovenia. It is also recognized as a minority language in Austria and Italy.

This article serves as a brief, but a hopefully compressive, digest of the Slovenian language and its history as well as some features and resources to help language learners take their first steps towards mastering this tongue.

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slovenia next to crotia and austria where slovenian language is spoken

What are the closest languages to Slovenian?

Because Slovenian is a South Slavic language, other languages from the same group will be understood to a large degree (although by no means are they mutually intelligible). Other languages that are close to Slovenian (in a broad sense) are Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Bosnian.

If you wanted to be even broader, you could argue that Russian, Belorussian, Czech and other Slavic languages are similar to that of Slovenian. Although this might be a stretch considering that, though they are within the same language family, their sub-families are quite different.

What other languages are spoken in Slovenia?

Serbian & Croatian are spoken by a significant number of Slovenian citizens. The majority of these people are immigrants from ex-Yugoslav territories who came to the country from the 1960s to the late 1980s. Slovenia has a small percentage of native Macedonian and Albanian speakers while Paunovici, Milici, Marindol and Bojanci residents speak in Eastern Herzegovinian dialect which is influenced by Slovenia

Quick History of Slovenia

Modern-day Slovenia was first inhabited by Celtic and Illyrian tribesmen sometime between 500 B.C and 100 B.C. Then in the first century, the Romans came and conquered the lands. However, shortly after, the barbarians from the east and north arrived and beat the Romans out of Slovenia at around 300 A.D.

Around the 6th century A.D. the Alpine Slavs (sometimes referred to as proto-Slovenes) settled in modern-day Slovenia.

Then at around 970 A.D. (the exact date is not exactly known) the Freising Manuscripts (a compilation of confessions and sermons) were written. These texts would be the first written records of the Slovenian language.

20th and 21st Century

Let’s talk about Slovenia’s history during the 20th and 21st centuries

For a while Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until after the First World War when the Empire was dissolved. Slovenia then decided to join their neighbors Serbia and Croatia to form the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918. During this time many Yugoslav officials encouraged the use of Serbo-Croatian instead of Slovenian, however the Slovenes rejected this and stuck to their native tongue.

Many books, and literary documents were written during this time to express the Slovenian identity.

During the Second World War, the entire Yugoslav kingdom was conquered by the Axis and broken up between Italy, Germany, and Hungary. Despite all this, the Slovenes were determined to express their free will and liberty, and many joined partisan groups to launch guerilla styled attacks on the Nazis. Many banded together and blew up railroads, and executed skirmish attacks on Nazi soldiers.

After the Second World War, Slovenia was absorbed this time to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFR Yugoslavia) under the leadership of Jospi Broz Tito.

After the fall of the USSR, in June of 1991 the Slovenians declared independence and became known as the Republic of Slovenia.

We’re now left with modern day Slovenia, and within Slovenia, to no surprise, Slovenian is the primary language spoken 🙂

About the Slovenian Language Structure

Word Order (SVO) and Cases

When it comes to cases and word order, generally speaking, Slovenian follows the Subject-Verb-Object word order. However, cases can theoretically allow for movement between sentence units, although most of the time, like Lithuanian, Slovene speakers will stick to their standard word order.

Slovenian has six cases which include:

  1. Nominative
  2. Genitive
  3. Dative
  4. Accusative
  5. Instrumental
  6. Locative

It’s these cases that allow speakers of Slovenian to have some flexibility with their word order.

The Dual Grammar Structure of Slovenian

One interesting grammatical feature of Slovenian is the presence of dual-grammar usage. In English we have two ways of expressing plurality: “you” and “you all/y’all (colq.)” However with Slovenian we now add the ‘dual’ form, it would be something like “you (two)” indicating a pair/duality.

Other languages like Arabic and even Hebrew, to some degree when it comes to indicating time, have this grammar facet. It’s something to take note of especially when you’re studying vocabulary.

It’s important to note that you will only come across the dual form when the speaker is emphasizing duality. Such as “both of my legs” instead of “my legs”


Nogavica (f) – Glove
Nogavici (f, dual) – Two gloves
Nogavice (f, pl) – Gloves (multiple)

Slovenian Writing and Phonology

Slovenian is written from left to right in the Latin alphabet script and has 20 consonants, 5 vowels, and a total of 25 letters.

Most of the phonology of Slovenian is similar to that of other Slavic languages. It is believed that they all share a common ancestor phonology from the theoretical ‘proto-Slavic’ language family.

What Are Some Slovenian Phrases?

Od kod ste?Where are you from (formal)
Ne vemI don’t understand
K’r nekiEquivalent to ‘whatver’
Da, prosimYes, please
To je zelo okusnoIt’s very tasty
Lepo, da sva se spoznalaNice to meet you
HvalaThank you
Govorite angleško?Do you speak English?

The Best Resources to Learn Slovenian in 2021

Before we end this article, we’d like to share a list of resources you can use to get started with on your journey to learning Slovene.

Free Slovenian Resources

Paid Slovenian Resources


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