Language & Phrasebook

Language

Slovak is one of the western Slavonic languages like Czech and Polish. These languages are fairly similar and the ones that Slovaks understand best. However, this does not mean that they do not understand other Slavonic languages such as Croatian and Russian. It’s as if Slovak were a kind of Esperanto of the Slavonic languages due to its geographical position in the centre and the fact that the difference between Slovak and the neighbouring language is never very big. Although there are only just over five million Slovak speakers, the speakers of this language are able to understand more than 300 million people.

Grammar

Slovak grammar often poses the greatest problem for foreigners. To a large extent, it is influenced by Latin, so be prepared for declensions, grammatical cases, genders etc. At least you can console yourself with the fact that Slovaks themselves occasionally have problems with it.  School children often find it difficult to distinguish between the usage of “i” and “y”, especially when there is no difference in pronunciation. There is no other way – you just have to learn by heart.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation might seem to be quite complicated; however, once you learn the basic rules, it is quite simple. In Slovak, the general rule “write as you hear it” is valid so there is one letter to every sound. The letter “ch” is the exception to the rule which exists as an independent letter in Slovak alphabet. It is not like English where one letter can be pronounced in a number of different ways nor is there the need for three letters to produce one sound as in German. The pronunciation of vowels and some consonants is similar to Italian or Spanish. It is useful to remember that, unlike most other Slavonic languages, the stress is placed on the initial syllable.

c oats
č like cheese
š like shampoo
ž like aubergine
j like yes
g like goal
ch like loch in Scottish
like jazz
r as in Scottish
á, é, í, ó, ú acute accent (it lengthens the vowel sound, like: father, air, knee, door, moon)
ď, ť, ň, ľ a diacritical mark which softens the consonant, as in: duty, tube, canyon, lute
ô like quotation
ä similar to ae

Numbers

1 jeden
2 dva
3 tri
4 štyri
5 päť
6 šesť
7 sedem
8 osem
9 deväť
10 desať
11 jedenásť
12 dvanásť
20 dvadsať
21 dvadsať jeden
100 sto
500 päťsto
1000 tisíc

Vocabulary and Phrases

Good afternoon Dobrý deň
Good morning Dobré ráno
Good evening Dobrý večer
Hi / Hello Ahoj / servus
Good bye Dovidenia
Thank you Ďakujem
Please Prosím
Please here you are Nech sa páči
Excuse me / Sorry Prepáčte / Pardón
Yes / No Áno / nie
How much is it? Koľko to stojí?
Where is…? Kde je…?
Good / Bad Dobre / zle
Yesterday / Today / Tomorrow Včera / dnes / zajtra
Right / Left / Straight Vpravo / vľavo / rovno
My name is … Volám sa …
I understand / I don’t understand Rozumiem / nerozumiem
Mr / Mrs/ Miss Pán / pani / slečna
Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday Pondelok / utorok / streda / štvrtok / piatok / sobota / nedeľa
Day / Week / Year Deň / týždeň / rok

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