12.9.2014 | Slovenia Estates
No matter where you travel, if you ask a local, they will likely tell you their language is difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. If you ask the same in Slovenia, however, there might be a grain of truth in that claim.
Although Slovenian has barely more than 2.5 million speakers over the world, it is one of the most dialectally diverse languages of the world – to the point where locals themselves, if hailing from different parts of the country, might not even be able to understand eachother completely! The dialect spoken in the north-eastern region of Slovenia – the “prekmursko narečje”, for example, is so vastly different from standard Slovenian that it is almost considered a language on its own, with a Bible, a standardised version, and regional media that uses the dialect exclusively.
The regional diversity of Slovenian is not the only thing that makes it seem unapproachable to outsiders. The dual grammatical number – a feature that has been conserved in only a handful languages of the world, amongst them Slovenian – is a concept that is unfamiliar to most foreigners looking to learn this languages, even speakers of the closely related Croatian and Serbian! No matter how strange the dual may seem, however, it has been embraced by slovenians and foreigners alike as a romantic feature perfect for couples in love. The dual provides them with a way to share something for the two of them only – where english is ambiguous in its “we”, slovenian is completely devoid of any doubt: “midva” – the two of us.
But enough about grammar! Not even most locals can claim a mastery of all the intricacies of their languages, so why should a foreigner? In fact, slovenes are perfectly aware of how daunting their language must seem to tourists and foreign residents, and are amazed at even the slightest interest shown in learning some of the basics. Which is even more reason for you to try and get a hang of a few words, even though getting by using English or German only (and in some areas, italian or hungarian) is easy and even expected.
Here are some phrases for the road. Capital letters indicated the stressed syllable:
Good morning – Dobro jutro (DOH-bro YOO-tro)
Good afternoon – Dober dan (DOH-ber dahn)
Good evening – Dober večer (DOH-ber ve-CHER)
Yes – Ja (Ya)
No – Ne (Neh)
Excuse me – Oprostite (Oh-proh-STEE-teh)
Thank you – Hvala (HVAH-lah)
Please/You’re welcome – Prosim (PROH-seem)
Where is… ? – Kje je … ? (Kye ye)
How much does it cost? – Koliko stane? (KOH-lee-koh stah-ne)
Do you speak English? – Govorite angleško? (goh-voh-REE-teh ahn-GLEH-shko)