Slovene is sometimes characterized as the most diverse Slavic language in terms of "dialects, with different degrees of mutual intelligibility. Accounts of the number of dialects range from as few as seven dialects, often considered dialect groups or dialect bases that are further subdivided into as many as 50 dialects. Other sources characterize the number of dialects as nine or eight. The Slovene proverb "Every village has its own voice" (Vsaka vas ima svoj glas) depicts the differences in dialects. Although pronunciation differs greatly from area to area, those differences do not pose major obstacles to understanding. The standard language is mainly used in public presentations or on formal occasions.
The "Prekmurje dialect used to have a written norm of its own at one point. The "Resian dialects have an independent written norm that is used by their regional state institutions. Speakers of those two dialects have considerable difficulties with being understood by speakers of other varieties of Slovene, needing "code-switching to Standard Slovene. Other dialects are mutually intelligible when speakers avoid the excessive usage of regionalisms.
Regionalisms are mostly limited to culinary and agricultural expressions, although there are many exceptions. Some "loanwords have become so deeply rooted in the local language that people have considerable difficulties in finding a standard expression for the dialect term (for instance, kovter meaning "blanket is prešita odeja in Standard Slovene, but the latter term is never used in speech). Southwestern dialects incorporate a great deal of "calques and "loanwords from Italian, whereas eastern and northwestern dialects are replete with lexemes of German origin. Usage of such words hinders intelligibility between dialects and is greatly discouraged in formal situations.
Slovene has a "phoneme set consisting of 21 "consonants and 8 "vowels.
Slovene has 21 distinctive consonant phonemes.
All "voiced "obstruents are devoiced at the end of words unless immediately followed by a word beginning with a vowel or a voiced consonant. In consonant clusters, voicing distinction is neutralized and all consonants assimilate the voicing of the rightmost segment. In this context, [v], [ɣ] and [d͡z] may occur as voiced allophones of /f/, /x/ and /t͡s/, respectively (e.g. vŕh drevésa [ʋrɣ dreˈʋesa]).
/ʋ/ has several "allophones depending on context.
- Before a vowel, pronunciation is labiodental, ["ʋ] (also described as ["v]).
- After a vowel, pronunciation is bilabial ["w] and forms a diphthong.
- At the beginning of a syllable, before a consonant (for example in vsi "all"), the pronunciation varies more widely by speaker and area. Many speakers convert /ʋ/ into a full vowel [u] in this position. For those speakers that retain a consonantal pronunciation, it is pronounced ["w] before a voiced consonant and ["ʍ] before a voiceless consonant. Thus, vsi may be pronounced as disyllabic [uˈsi] or monosyllabic [ʍsi].
The sequences /lj/, /nj/ and /rj/ occur only before a vowel. Before a consonant or word-finally, they are reduced to /l/, /n/ and /r/ respectively. This is reflected in the spelling in the case of /rj/, but not for /lj/ and /nj/.
Under certain (somewhat unpredictable) circumstances, /l/ at the end of a syllable may become [w], merging with the allophone of /ʋ/ in that position.
Slovene has an eight-vowel (according to Peter Jurgec nine-vowel) system, in comparison to the five-vowel system of Serbo-Croatian.
Slovene nouns retain six of the seven Slavic noun cases: "nominative, "accusative, "genitive, "dative, "locative and "instrumental. There is no distinct vocative; the nominative is used in that role. Nouns, adjectives and pronouns have three numbers: singular, plural and a special "dual form that indicates exactly two objects.
Nouns in Slovene are either masculine, feminine or neuter gender. In addition, there is a distinction between animate and inanimate nouns, although this is only relevant for masculine nouns and only in the singular. Animate nouns have an accusative singular form that is identical to the genitive, while for inanimate nouns the accusative singular is the same as the nominative. Animacy is based mostly on semantics and is less rigid than gender. Generally speaking a noun is animate if it refers to something that is generally thought to have free will and/or the ability to move of its own accord. This includes all nouns for people and animals. All other nouns are inanimate, including plants and other non-moving life forms, and also groups of people or animals. However, there are some nouns for inanimate objects that are generally animate, which mostly include inanimate objects that are named after people or animals. This includes:
- Dead people or animals
- Brands of cars
- Certain diseases (named after animals)
- Certain devices (named after animals or people)
- Works of art (named after their creator)
- Chess pieces and playing cards (named for the people they represent)
- Wines and mushrooms (named as "demonyms)
Slovene, like most other European languages, has a "T–V distinction, or two forms of 'you' for formal and informal situations. Although informal address using the 2nd person singular ti form (known as tikanje) is officially limited to friends and family, talk among children, and addressing animals, it is increasingly used among the middle generation to signal a relaxed attitude or lifestyle instead of its polite or formal counterpart using the 2nd person plural vi form (known as vikanje).
An additional nonstandard but widespread use of a singular participle combined with a plural auxiliary verb (known as polvikanje) signals a somewhat more friendly and less formal attitude while maintaining politeness:
- Vi ga niste videli. ('You did not see him': both the auxiliary verb niste and the participle videli are plural masculine. Standard usage.)
- Vi ga niste videl/videla. ('You did not see him': the auxiliary verb niste is plural but the participle videl/videla is singular masculine/feminine. Nonstandard usage.)
The use of nonstandard forms (polvikanje) might be frowned upon by many people and would not likely be used in a formal setting.
The use of the 3rd person plural oni ('they') form (known as onikanje in both direct address and indirect reference; this is similar to using Sie in German) as an ultra-polite form is now archaic or dialectal. It is associated with servant-master relationships in older literature, the child-parent relationship in certain conservative rural communities, and parishioner-priest relationships.
Foreign words used in Slovene are of various types depending on the assimilation they have undergone. The types are:
- sposojenka (loanword) – fully assimilated; e.g. pica ('pizza').
- tujka (foreign word) – partly assimilated, either in writing and syntax and/or in pronunciation; e.g. jazz, wiki.
- polcitatna beseda ali besedna zveza (half-quoted word or phrase) – partly assimilated, either in writing and syntax and/or in pronunciation; e.g. Shakespeare, but Shakespearja in genitive case.
- citatna beseda ali besedna zveza (quoted word or phrase) – kept as in original, although pronunciation may be altered to fit into speech flow; e.g. first lady in all cases.
The loanwords are mostly from "German and "Italian, while the more recently borrowed and less assimilated words are typically from "English.["citation needed]
There are no "definite or "indefinite articles as in English (a, an, the) or "German (der, die, das, ein, eine). A whole verb or a noun is described without articles and the "grammatical gender is found from the word's termination. It is enough to say barka (a or the barge), Noetova barka ('Noah's ark'). The gender is known in this case to be feminine. In "declensions, endings are normally changed; see below. If one should like to somehow distinguish between definiteness or indefiniteness of a noun, one would say (prav/natanko/ravno) tista barka ('that (exact) barge') for "the barge" and neka/ena barka ('one barge') for "a barge".
Definiteness of a noun phrase can also be discernible through the ending of the accompanying adjective. One should say rdeči šotor ([exactly that] red tent) or rdeč šotor ([a] red tent). This difference is observable only for masculine nouns in nominative or accusative case. Because of the lack of article in Slovene and audibly insignificant difference between the masculine adjective forms, most dialects do not distinguish between definite and indefinite variants of the adjective, leading to "hypercorrection when speakers try to use Standard Slovenian.
This alphabet (Slovene: abeceda) was derived in the mid-1840s from "the system created by "Croatianist "Ljudevit Gaj. Intended for the "Serbo-Croatian language (in all its varieties), it was patterned on the "Czech alphabet of the 1830s. Before that /s/ was, for example, written as "⟨ʃ⟩, ⟨ʃʃ⟩ or "⟨ſ⟩; /tʃ/ as ⟨tʃch⟩, ⟨cz⟩, ⟨tʃcz⟩ or ⟨tcz⟩; /i/ sometimes as ⟨y⟩ as a relic from the now modern Russian "yery character ⟨ы⟩, usually transliterated as "y";["clarification needed] /j/ as ⟨y⟩; /l/ as ⟨ll⟩; /ʋ/ as ⟨w⟩; /ʒ/ as ⟨ʃ⟩, ⟨ʃʃ⟩ or ⟨ʃz⟩.
The standard Slovene orthography, used in almost all situations, uses only the letters of the "ISO basic Latin alphabet plus ⟨č⟩, ⟨š⟩, and ⟨ž⟩:
|letter||phoneme||example word||word pronunciation|
|B b||/b/||beseda "word"||/bɛˈséːda/, besẹ̑da|
|C c||/t͡s/||cvet "bloom"||/ˈtsʋéːt/, cvẹ̑t|
|Č č||/t͡ʃ/||časopis "newspaper"||/tʃasɔˈpíːs/, časopı̑s|
|D d||/d/||danes "today"||/ˈdàːnəs/, dánəs|
reči "to say"
sem "I am"
|F f||/f/||fant "boy"||/ˈfánt/, fȁnt|
|G g||/ɡ/||grad "castle"||/ˈɡráːt/, grȃd|
|H h||/x/||hiša "house"||/ˈxìːʃa/, híša|
|biti "to be"
imeti "to have"
|J j||/j/||jabolko "apple"||/ˈjàːbɔwkɔ/, jábołko|
|K k||/k/||kmèt "peasant"||/ˈkmɛ́t/, kmȅt|
|M m||/m/||misliti "to think"||/ˈmìːsliti/, mísliti|
|N n||/n/||novice "news"||/nɔˈʋìːtsɛ/, novíce|
|P p||/p/||pomoč "help"||/pɔˈmóːtʃ/, pomọ̑č|
|S s||/s/||svet "world"||/ˈsʋéːt/, svẹ̑t|
|Š š||/ʃ/||šola "school"||/ˈʃóːla/, šọ̑la|
|T t||/t/||tip "type"||/ˈtíːp/, tȋp|
|Z z||/z/||zima "winter"||/ˈzìːma/, zíma|
|Ž ž||/ʒ/||življenje "life"||/ʒiwˈljɛ̀ːnjɛ/, življénje|
The orthography thus "underdifferentiates several phonemic distinctions:
- Stress, vowel length and tone are not distinguished, except with optional diacritics when it is necessary to distinguish between similar words with a different meaning.
- The two distinct mid-vowels are also not distinguished, both written as simply ⟨e⟩ and ⟨o⟩.
- The schwa /ǝ/ is also written as ⟨e⟩. However, the combination /ǝr/ is written as simply ⟨r⟩ between consonants and is thus distinguishable.
- Vocalised el /w/ is written as ⟨l⟩, but cannot be predictably distinguished from /l/ in that position.
In the tonemic varieties of Slovene, the ambiguity is even worse: e in a final syllable can stand for any of /éː/ /èː/ /ɛ́ː/ /ɛ̀ː/ /ɛ/ /ǝ/ (although /ɛ̀ː/ is rare).
The reader is expected to gather the interpretation of the word from the context, as in these examples:
- /ˈɡɔ́w/ gȍł "naked"
- /ˈɡóːl/ gọ̑l "goal"
- /ˈjɛ̀ːsɛn/ jésen "ash tree"
- /jɛˈséːn/ jesẹ̑n "autumn"
- /ˈkòːt/ kọ́t "angle"
- /kɔt/ kot "as"
- /mɛt/ med "between"
- /ˈméːt/ mẹ̑d "honey"
- /ˈpóːl/ pọ̑l "pole"
- /ˈpóːw/ pọ̑ł "half"
- /ˈpɔ̀ːl/ pól "half an hour before (the hour)"
- /ˈprɛ́tsɛj/ prȅcej "at once" (archaic)
- /prɛˈtséːj/ precẹ̑j or /prɛˈtsɛ́j/ precȅj "a great deal (of)"
To compensate for the shortcomings of the standard orthography, Slovene also uses standardized "diacritics or accent marks to denote "stress, "vowel length and "pitch accent, much like the closely related "Serbo-Croatian. However, as in Serbo-Croatian, use of such accent marks is restricted to dictionaries, language textbooks and linguistic publications. In normal writing, the diacritics are almost never used, except in a few minimal pairs where real ambiguity could arise.
Two different and mutually incompatible systems of diacritics are used. The first is the simpler non-tonemic system, which can be applied to all Slovene dialects. It is more widely used and is the standard representation in dictionaries such as SSKJ. The tonemic system also includes tone as part of the representation. However, neither system reliably distinguishes schwa /ǝ/ from the front mid-vowels, nor vocalised l /w/ from regular l /l/. Some sources write these as ǝ and ł respectively, but this is not as common.
In the non-tonemic system, the distinction between the two mid-vowels is indicated, as well as the placement of stress and length of vowels:
- Long stressed vowels are notated with an acute diacritic: á é í ó ú ŕ (IPA: /aː eː iː oː uː ǝr/).
- However, the rarer long stressed low-mid vowels /ɛː/ and /ɔː/ are notated with a circumflex: ê ô.
- Short stressed vowels are notated with a grave: à è ì ò ù (IPA: /a ɛ i ɔ u/). Some systems may also include ǝ̀ for /ǝ/.
The tonemic system uses the diacritics somewhat differently from the non-tonemic system. The high-mid vowels /eː/ and /oː/ are written ẹ ọ with a subscript dot, while the low-mid vowels /ɛː/ and /ɔː/ are written as plain e o.
Pitch accent and length is indicated by four diacritical marks:
- The "acute ( ´ ) indicates long and low pitch: á é ẹ́ í ó ọ́ ú ŕ (IPA: /àː ɛ̀ː èː ìː ɔ̀ː òː ùː ǝ̀r/).
- The "inverted breve ( ̑ ) or the "circumflex ( ^ ) indicates long and high pitch: ȃ ȇ ẹ̑ ȋ ȏ ọ̑ ȗ ȓ (IPA: /éː ɛ́ː éː íː ɔ́ː óː úː ǝ́r/).
- The "grave ( ` ) indicates short and low pitch. This occurs only on è (IPA: /ǝ̀/), optionally written as ǝ̀.
- The "double grave ( ̏ ) indicates short and high pitch: ȁ ȅ ȉ ȍ ȕ (IPA: á ɛ́ í ɔ́ ú). ȅ is also used for /ǝ́/, optionally written as ǝ̏.
The schwa vowel /ǝ/ is written ambiguously as e, but its accentuation will sometimes distinguish it: a long vowel mark can never appear on a schwa, while a grave accent can appear only on a schwa. Thus, only ȅ and unstressed e are truly ambiguous.
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Standard Slovene spelling and grammar are defined by the Orthographic Committee and the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian Language, which are both part of the "Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, SAZU). The newest reference book of standard Slovene spelling (and to some extent also grammar) is the Slovenski pravopis (SP2001; Slovene Normative Guide). The latest printed edition was published in 2001 (reprinted in 2003 with some corrections) and contains more than 130,000 dictionary entries. In 2003, an electronic version was published.
The official dictionary of modern Slovene, which was also prepared by SAZU, is Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika (SSKJ; Standard Slovene Dictionary). It was published in five volumes by Državna Založba Slovenije between 1970 and 1991 and contains more than 100,000 entries and subentries with accentuation, part-of-speech labels, common collocations, and various qualifiers. In the 1990s, an electronic version of the dictionary was published and it is available online.
The SAZU considers SP2001 to be the normative source on Slovenian language. When dictionary entries in SP2001 and SSKJ differ, the SP2001 entry takes precedence.["citation needed]
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- Herrity (2000:6ff.)
- Herrity (2000:15–16)
- Herrity (2000:16)
- Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:136)
- Greenberg (2006:18)
- Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:136–137)
- Toporišič (2001:69)
- Jurgec (2007:1–2). He transcribes it as /ʌ/, but the vowel chart on page 2 shows that the phonetically correct symbol is /ɐ/.
- Jurgec (2005:9 and 12)
- Herrity (2000:34–35)
- "Kako uporabljati določne pridevnike". ŠUSS. 2 June 2005. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- Greenberg, Mark L. (2006), A Short Reference Grammar of Standard Slovene, Kansas: University of Kansas
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- Jurgec, Peter (2007), Schwa in Slovenian is Epenthetic, Berlin
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- Šuštaršič, Rastislav; Komar, Smiljana; Petek, Bojan (1999), "Slovene", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–139, "doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, "ISBN "0-521-65236-7
- Toporišič, Jože (2001), Slovenski pravopis, Ljubljana: SAZU
|""||Slovenian edition of "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|""||Slovenian edition of "Wikisource, the free library|
|""||Wikivoyage has a phrasebook for Slovenian.|
|""||Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Slovene|
|""||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Slovene language.|
- "Slovenian National Corpus 600 M words corpus of Slovenian FidaPLUS
- 200 M words corpus of Slovenian Nova beseda