Slovak is mainly spoken in Slovakia. It is also used as an official language in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Romania and Serbia. Speakers can also be found in the United States, the UK, Austria, Ukraine, Canada and Ireland. It is approximated that more than one third of Slovaks do not live in Slovakia. Slovak, also known as Slovakian is spoken by approximately 5 million people. It is an Indo-European language, which belongs to West Slavic languages. It has been influenced by other Slavic language such as Polish, Czech, Hungarian and German. Other Slavic speakers can also understand Slovakian.
Slovak has different dialects, which can be divided into 4 major groups. This includes Eastern Slovak dialects, Western Slovak dialects, Lowland Slovak dialects and Central Slovak dialects. Majority of the dialects are not mutually intelligible. This is due to the differences in vocabulary, phonology and inflection. Most foreign words in Slovak which have been borrowed from other languages eventually adopt a Slovakian spelling. The only words that tend to keep their spelling are personal names and geographical names.
Slovak is written using Latin-script. Diacritics are also used above certain letters. The earliest written form of Slovak dates back to the 15th century. It was not until the 20th century that Slovak literature became widely accepted. This was accentuated by the Slovak’s awareness about their national identity and their interest in attaining literacy. This was the time that the Slovak speaking region became part of Czechoslovakia. At that time, the population did not recognize Slovak so much. When Czechoslovakia ceased to be in 1993, The Czech Republic and Slovakia became different countries and the Czech language and Slovak became independent languages. Czech and Slovakia are mutually intelligible. A Czech visiting Slovakia does not need to learn Slovak as they can easily conduct a conversation without having any difficulty in understanding each other. Learning Slovak should not be that difficult if you are already familiar with the Latin alphabet. You will have to learn how to use diacritics as they affect the pronunciation of words. Words are pronounced the same way they are written. Slovak is considered to be a melodious language, that someone can enjoy listening to, even if they do not understand the language.