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The Slovak Language: Statistics and Facts
Slovak is the language of the Slovaks – the predominant population of the Slovak Republic (which was part of the Hungarian Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and is now an independent state with a population of about 5 million people, almost 90% of whom are ethnic Slovaks), as well as some areas in Hungary, Poland and Ukraine (about 1.5 million people). The total number of speakers of the Slovak language is about 6 million people.
The Slovak language belongs to the western group of Slavic languages. It has three dialects: West Slovak, Central Slovak, and Eastern Slovak. Its structure is very similar to the Czech language and a number of characteristics are similar to those shared with Southern Slavic languages. Of all the Slavic languages, Slovak has the most in common with the Czech language. The languages are so similar, in fact, that the Czechs and Slovaks can easily understand each other; within the Czech Republic, even on the official level, Slovak does not require translation. However, Slovak is a completely independent language, developing in accordance with its internal laws.
Countries where Slovak is spoken:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
History of the Slovak Language
Slavic tribes settled the territory of present-day Slovakia in the year 500 AD. Then, in the 6th century, the phonological differentiation within the Proto-Slavic language began. Up to 863 AD, the official language in the administrative and ecclesiastical spheres was Latin. It was later replaced by Old Church Slavonic. Nevertheless, the Latin language did not disappear and was used as well along the way.
In 885 AD, the Pope banned the use of Old Church Slavonic and, subsequently, the Slovak language in Great Moravia. This event initiated a revival of the Latin language, which formed the basis of administrative and ecclesiastical affairs.
In the 10th century, the formation of the Slovak language was influenced by several Slavic dialects common within modern Hungary, after the Hungarians (Magyars) destroyed Great Moravia. While, within the official spheres in Slovakia, Slovak and Latin were used, along with some Slovak dialects, Czech started to seep into the spiritual sphere in Slovakia, helped along by the Czech clergy. Nevertheless, the Slovak language was common in everyday life.
More and more, people wanted to standardise the Slovak language. Anton Bernolak, a Catholic priest, took the Western Slovak dialects for the basis of his work while attempting to codify the Slovak language. It was the first success at language standardisation and consisted of six volumes of the Slovak-Czech-Latin-German-Hungarian dictionary.
After the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867, the Hungarian government closed the only three Slovak schools in its territory.
With the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the Slovak language was saved from possible extinction, and for the first time in history became the official language, along with Czech.
- The Slovak language is also the official language in Vojvodina (an autonomous region in the north of Serbia).
- In the era of Great Moravia, the Slavs had their own alphabet from the year 863, called Glagolitic.
- The Slovak language is considered to be "Slavic Esperanto" as it is well understood by all Slavs.
- Slovak Štefan Banic (1870-1941) invented the first parachute and patented it in 1913.
- Bratislava is located so close to Vienna that it does not have inter-city electrical trains, instead using commuter trains. Up until the 1945, an ordinary tram went from Vienna to Bratislava.
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