Slovenian: Rad(a) te imam!

I know what you’re thinking. “Dang, didn’t Keith just do a Slavic language?”

But oddly enough, I didn’t know Slovenian was a Slavic language, South-Slavic to be exact. I knew Slovenian was formerly part of Yugoslavia, but I didn’t really know much about Slovenia apart from that. However, I don’t think I made the fatal mistake so many do listed below:

THINKING SLOVENIA AND SLOVAKIA ARE THE SAME COUNTRY.
THINKING SLOVENIAN AND SLOVAK ARE THE SAME LANGUAGE.

Well friends, I’m here to tell you that Slovenia is an entirely different country with a completely distinct history, culture and language than Slovakia (which used to be part of Czechoslovakia before the mid-1990s).

So, just to remind you …

SLOVENIA AND SLOVAKIA ARE NOT THE SAME COUNTRY.
SLOVENIAN AND SLOVAK ARE NOT THE SAME LANGUAGE.

So what about Slovenia? The country, roughly the size of West Virginia, traces its roots back to Slavic inhabitants who settled in the Balkans around the 600s. They founded Carantania, a democracy that perhaps helped trailblaze the way for early America’s government.  For the next hundred years after the 800s Carantania would be controlled by Bavaria (Germany) and invaded by neighboring Hungary before gaining full autonomy again. In Emperor Otto I added the Slovene Lands (not Carantania anymore because it had lost its independence) to the Holy Roman Empire and was later annexed to the powerful Habsburg Monarchy (think predecessor to modern-day Austria).

Slovenian was heavily influenced by the Protestant Reformation when it came to the region in the 1500s. A lot of the credit belongs to Primož Trubar, a reformer who made the first Slovene printed book. Even though Protestants were expelled from the Catholic Habsburg Kingdom, the legacy of Protestantism would live on in Slovene culture.

In the 1800s, a national Slovene identity emerged. Most Slovenes wanted independence from Austria. After Austria-Hungary lost in WWI, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was formed and later named Yugoslavia. (This was done on purpose, as the unification of South Slavs was also big at the time. In WWII the Axis powers attacked Yugoslavia, which led to a civil war between Slovenes. After the Axis Powers lost, Yugoslavia became a Socialist republic and was under the influence of Stalin, but Slovenia was able to retain some autonomy and fared better than other states, particularly in terms of its economy. Like the other countries in the Balkans, Slovenia finally gained independence for good in the early 1990s.

WRITING SYSTEM:

Despite being Slavic, Slovenian uses a Roman alphabet. There 25 letters, with three that don’t occur in the English alphabet (provided by Omniglot):

Č č – ch as in church
Š š – sh as in shut
Ž ž – su as in pleasure

Also, J j sounds like an English Y and the C c sounds like the cz in czar. Q q, W w, X x and Y y are also used, but only for loan words.

Slovenian uses a lot of consonant combos that could be confusing to an English speaker. These seem to be common:

-vs
-lj
-zm
-zd

Apart from that, reading Slovenian shouldn’t be too difficult.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Slovenian sounds like Polish spoken from a Russian, if that makes any sense. I’ve been listening to see if the language has any influences from Austria or Germany or even Italian, but it sounds solidly Slavic. It’s a little different than the other Slavic languages I’ve listened to (Bulgarian and Macedonian), but not by much.

Slovenian nouns, however, use endings (declensions) to show gender, number and the relationship between words in sentences (gender, number and relationship are called noun cases). This could be troubling because English speakers only mark cases for personal pronouns and use prepositions to show relationships between words. Slovenian also doesn’t use definite articles. If you’re thinking what I’m about to say, understanding is based on the context of the sentence. I … don’t really like this, but we’ll see how it goes.

On a random note, have you ever wanted to say, “I love you” in Slovenian? Sara from YouTube teaches you how!

2 thoughts on “Slovenian: Rad(a) te imam!

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