If you are a tourist in Slovenia or want to learn a new language, you will probably want to learn how to pronounce words and know some basic conversation and vocabulary. Most Slovenes speak English fluently, so it can be quite hard to be motivated to learn the language, especially since Slovenian is such a difficult one.
Pronunciation is essential in Slovenian. You must put the tone on the right syllables and know how to pronounce the Alphabet. There are 25 letters in the Slovene Alphabet, including Č (pronounced ch), Š (pronounced sh), and Ž (pronounced zh). There are also sound changes depending on consonants and vowels.
To help you understand how to pronounce the entire Alphabet, and have a simple conversation well said and fluent, let’s take a look at the Slovenian language, how is the Alphabet, and how to say a few essential words.
What Is the Slovenian Language?
Slovenian is a difficult language spoken by around 2,3 million people. It is the oldest written Slavic language. What makes Slovenian so challenging to learn for English speakers is the many differences. Besides the three new letters, Slovenian also uses what we call “dual.”
Dual is pretty rare in Indo-European languages. Although the use of dual is reducing in the Slovene language, it is still used, and you must understand it to learn how to speak. Dual is a grammatical number used along with plural and singular. It refers to two entities. An example of dual in English would be: “Both go to the same school.”
There are about 50 dialects in Slovenia that surround Slovenian. From one side of the country to the other, people might not understand each other because of the influence of those dialects. This miscommunication and the critical amount of languages in the country increases the difficulty of learning Slovenian.
However, the language has also been what linked all Slovenians, which is why it became independent in 1991. Even when Slovenia in itself did not exist, Slovenians were glued together through this unifying language.
The language was forbidden in schools during World War II, which gives it even more importance for Slovenians to have it back nowadays.
Slovenian is not a well-known language globally, so it can be hard to hear it daily, except if you live in Slovenia. Nevertheless, it is a language that has been present for many years. It was the 12th language in the world to have a complete translation of the Bible.
How to Pronounce the Slovenian Alphabet?
The Slovenian Alphabet is not the same as the English Alphabet. There are only 25 letters. The letters W, Q, X, and Y do not exist. However, there are other letters that English speakers might have never heard. These letters are Č (pronounced as ch), Š (pronounced as sh), and Ž (pronounced as zh).
The accents above these three letters are called a strešica in Slovenian, which means “little roof.” In English, they called carrots.
Here is the Alphabet, and how to pronounce each letter with examples in Slovenian, their translation in English, and similar sounds in English:
|Letter||Pronunciation||Example in Slovene||Example in English|
|A a||/a/||Amerika (America)||Father|
|B b||/b/||Banka (bank)||Bee|
|C c||/ts/||Cena (price)||Pizza|
|Č č||/tʃ/||Oče (father)||Chocolate|
|D d||/d/||Denar (money)||Day|
|E e||/ɛ/, /e/, /ə/||Zelo (very)||Electricity|
|F f||/f/||Fakulteta (faculty)||Fantasy|
|G g||/ɡ/||Grem (I’m going)||Gorilla|
|H h||/x/||Hip (moment)||House|
|I i||/i/||Italja (Italy)||Information|
|J j||/j/||Jama (cave)||Yes|
|K k||/k/||Kaj (what)||Coffee|
|L l||/l/, /w/||Letališče (airport)||Legend|
|M m||/m/||Musej (museum)||Mother|
|N n||/n/||Minuta (minute)||Nature|
|O o||/ɔ/, /o/||Oliva (olive)||Opera|
|P p||/p/||Pošta (mail)||Pepper|
|R r||/r/||Restavracija (restaurant)||Revolution|
|S s||/s/||Sam (alone)||Salt|
|Š š||/ʃ/||Študent (student)||Champagne|
|T t||/t/||Teden (week)||Television|
|U u||/u/||Utrujen (tired)||Moon|
|V v||/v/, /w/||Vem (I know)||Villa|
|Z z||/z/||Miza (table)||Zero|
|Ž ž||/ʒ/||Žena (a woman)||Garage|
It is also important to know that the letters L and V, if placed at the end of a word or before a consonant, are pronounced like a W. For example, in the words “pol” (wolf) or “volk” (wolf), the L is pronounced as in the word “know”. The words “nov” (new) and “v mestu” (in town) are pronounced as would be the word “wrong”.
Another important combination of letters that can change the pronunciation is the combination of D and Ž. They are pronounced like the English J. For example, in the word “Madžarska” (Hungary), the “dž” is pronounced like the “j” in Jane.
We could also add that in many Slavic languages, there are alternations in the pronunciation of consonants and vowels. Some of these alternations are called palatalizations, which means that there is a sound change in pronunciation. It implies a change in the place or manner of articulation of consonants or the fronting or raising of vowels.
In Slovenian, the first and the second Slavic palatalizations change the consonants K, G, and H. Their is also an effect called iotation. This one affects the letter Jj, making it merge with some of the preceding consonants like for the following: blj, plj, mlj, and vlj.
Basic Words to Know How to Pronounce in Slovenian
Once you know how to pronounce the alphabet and letter combinations in Slovene, it is time to learn some essential words and pronounce them. With these simple words, you will be able to recognize and understand the most necessary things during your trip to Slovenia.
Here is a list of simple words for courtesy in Slovenian and English:
|Prosim||Please / You are welcome|
|Dobro jutro||Good morning (before 9 am)|
|Dober večer||Good evening|
|Lahko noč||Good night|
|Zelo mi je žal||I am sorry|
|Da / Ja||Yes|
Once you know how to say hi, goodbye, and thank you, here is a list of words you will see on the daily basis in Slovenia, and that you should definitely know.
|Gostilna||Inn / Pub|
Now that you are unbeatable on everyday words, you could learn simple numbers.
|Sto||100 one hundred|
|Tisoč||1000 one thousand|
With all these basic words, you could easily travel to Slovenia without any problem, especially since most Slovenians speak English very well. However, it can be useful to know how to have a simple conversation
Simple Conversation to Know How to Pronounce
To help you speak some sentences with locals, here are a few basic conversations you must-know. First, you need to introduce yourself:
- Hello. / Dober dan.
- How are you? / Kako ste ?
- Very well, thank you. / Zelo dobro, hvala.
Then, here is how to ask for someone’s name:
- What is your name? / Kako vam je ime ?
- My name is _____. / Moje ime je ____.
- Nice to meet you. / Me veseli, da sva se srečala.
If you get lost, here is how to ask for directions:
- Where is _____? / Kje je ?
- …the train station? / …železniška postaja ?
- …the bus station? / …avtobusna postaja ?
- … the airport? / …letališče
- …the hostel? / …mladinski dom ?
- … the hotel _____? / …hotel _____ ?
And how to give or understand when you are given directions:
- Turn left. / Obrnite levo.
- Turn right. / Obrnite desno.
- Straight ahead / Ravno naprej
If you want to take a taxi, here are the basic sentences you need to know:
- Taxi! / Taksi!
- Please, take me to _____. / Peljite me v _____, prosim.
- How much does it cost to go to_____? / Koliko stane do_____ ?
In Slovenia, restaurants are great, and they are not too expensive. Here are some sentences to know if you want to eat outside of the house:
- A table for one person/two people, please. / Mizo za eno osebo/dve osebi, prosim.
- Could I get the menu? / Lahko dobim menu, prosim ?
- I am vegetarian. / Sem vegetarijanec.
- I do not eat pork. / Ne jem svinjine.
- I only eat Kosher meat. / Jem samo košer hrano.
- I would like _____. / Rad bi_____.
- Please ? (to get the waiter’s attention) / Natakar ?
- The bill please. / Račun, prosim.
Now, you are a true Slovenian, you can blend in and talk with locals during your trip!
Slovenian is a difficult language to learn, and for English speakers, the first step is to understand how to pronounce the alphabet and some basic everyday-life words. Once you understand how to pronounce Č, Š, and Ž, as well as the letter combinations with J or with D and Ž, you are set to learn Slovenian.
The most important thing for you is to never give up on learning the language. Also, you must not speak too much English with the locals, even though they speak English fluently and that it is easier. Learning a new language is enriching, and it will help you to know even a few words for your stay.