Slovakia is a Central European country covering 19,000 square miles and houses an estimated population of about 5.4 million people. The population displays a broad range of diversity, with several ethnic groups existing within the Slovakian borders. The largest ethnic group is the Slovaks, which make up more than 80% of the population. Minority ethnic groups include the Hungarians, Czechs, Rusyns, Poles, Ukrainians and the Roma. These ethnic groups speak various native languages. The languages spoken in Slovakia are not strictly unique to the country since different indigenous communities in the European Union speak these languages. Apart from the ethnic languages, Slovakians also use foreign languages such as English. The deaf community in the country commonly uses Slovak Sign Language.
Slovak: The Official Language of Slovakia
Slovak is a Slavic language of the broader Indo-European language family spoken in Slovakia, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia, and Hungary. Slovak is the official language in Slovakia, is spoken by more than 80% of the population, and is given priority over other languages in Slovakia. Speakers of Slovak in the country use three common and mutually intelligible dialects: eastern, central, and western dialects. There also exists a standard version for teaching in schools. The language has developed and expanded over the centuries of its use due to influence from other languages such as Latin, Czech, Hungarian, English, and German, as well as the interaction with various forms of the language. The State Language Law regulates the use of Slovak in the country, with penalties and fines for incorrect use of the language.
Minority Ethnic Languages Spoken in Slovakia
In Slovakia, a minority language may earn a co-official status if it attains a legal threshold of 15% of the speakers in a particular municipality. Other nationals residing in the country through either migration or birth in the country speak minority ethnic languages in Slovakia. Hungarian is a Uralic language and one of the widely spoken in the European Union. Hungarians form the second largest ethnic community in Slovakia, making Hungarian the second biggest ethnic language spoken in the country. Slovakia recognizes Rusyn as a minority language, with about 33,000 of the population of Slovakia using the Rusyn language. Most Slovakians also understand Czech, mainly due to its existence as a part of the former Czechoslovakia. Other minority languages include Polish, Ukrainian, and Roma.
Slovak Sign Language
Slovak Sign Language is native to the country, with about 15,000 users. The deaf community of Slovakia uses the Slovak Sign Language as the primary mode of communication. The language is an Austro-Hungarian language of the French Sign Language family. The Slovak Sign Language displays relative disparities with the Czech sign language despite close similarities between spoken Slovak and Czech.
Foreign Languages Spoken in Slovakia
Slovakia is one of the leading countries in Central Europe with a large population that is fluent in more than one foreign language. Since Russian was formerly used as a study language in the country, a majority of the Slovakians understand the language. German is also relatively well known among the Slovakians, especially among youth and the highly educated members, followed by English. English is quickly gaining recognition in the country, in particular among the younger population.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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