79 Slovenian

[under construction!]

Slovenian (or Slovene) is a kind of Kajkavian on steroids, or Kajkavian is simplified Slovenian — it's hard to tell. Luckily, an international border separates them conveniently, so it' easy to tell them apart...

Slovenian has many dialects, some of them spoken in Croatia (in Gorski kotar region, where they are called Kajkavian, but are actually much closer to Slovenian) and a standard language — that almost nobody speaks at home.

It's impossible to describe Slovenian here completely — it would need a blog of its own; my aim is just to show main differences from Croatian.

Slovenian has even weirder sounds than Kajkavian: there are three e's (/e/, /ë/ and /ə/ — the last one is the vowel of English "the", others are similar to Kajkavian), /w/ (spelled as u, v or l) etc. — the Slovenian spelling is not 'write-as-you-speak'!

The 'disappearing' vowel is /ə/ in Slovenian, spelled as e, and 'yat' is closed e, spelled just as e too.

The 'Final L rule' works, but the result is not o as in Štokavian dialects, but the sound /w/ (like in English "wind", "water"); however the spelling l is retained even if it's really pronounced differently! Likewise, initial u- and v before other consonant (e.g. vnuk) is actually pronounced /w/ as well.

As in Kajkavian, there is only one č (no ć), and no đ. However, there are some Slovenian dialects that have ć.

Sequence ol (pronounced /ow/ or /ou/) is found in many places instead of Croatian u; there are o's instead of some u's in come other words as well:

dolg adj. "long" {dug}
jabolko n "apple" {jabuka f}
poln adj. "full" {pun}
stolp "post, column" {stup}
volk "wolf" {vuk}
    golob "pidgeon" {golub}
mož "man, husband" {muž}
roka "hand" {ruka}
pot "way, path" {put}
sonce "sun" {sunce}

But the main difference that separates Slovenian is dual. You probably recall that dual in Croatian is just a special form of adjectives (and nouns) used with numbers 2, 3 and 4. Not so in Slovenian — dual is used only with number 2, but there are separate forms for various cases (so, nom.du., acc.du....) and there are separate forms for verbs as well! There are not many contemporary languages that have such feature; Classical Arabic is an example I can think of.

Slovenian dual is much more regular than Croatian one: it's a real number, as illustrated by examples found on the Internet:

Dva človeka sta sedela. "Two men were sitting."
Ana in Janez sta sedela. "Ana and Janez were sitting."

In Croatian, there could be dual only in the first example: words like dva etc. are needed, not just two objects/persons!


Noun types are similar to Standard Croatian, but there are more irregular nouns. The gender system is the same. This is the case pattern of Standard Slovenian:

dat./loc. sg.-u-i -i
nom./acc.du.       -[œv]a-i
dat./ins.du.       -[œv]œma-œma-ama-(i)ma
nom. pl.       -[œv]i-a-e-i
acc. pl.       -[œv]e
dat. pl.       -[œv]œm-œm-am-im, -em
gen.du./pl.       -[œv]---i
ins.pl.       -[œv]i-i-ami-(i)mi
loc.du./pl.       -[œv]ih-ih-ah-ih, -eh

Slovenian developed separate nouns for many things, and is absolutely restrictive of foreign words. Some characteristic nouns, not found in Kajkavian:

zmaga "victory" {pobjëda}

[to be expanded]

Adjectives and Pronouns

Gender follows exactly the same system as in Croatian, and adjectives use the following pattern of endings (as you can see, there are only long e-endings, as in northern Čakavian dialects). There are only three special dual endings:

casema       mi        n         f        
dat. sg.-emu-i
nom. pl.-i-a-e
acc. pl.-e
dat. pl.-im
gen./loc. du./pl.-ih

Personal pronouns have more forms than in e.g. čakavian, not only due to dual, but there are special forms for feminine pronouns in 1st and 2nd person as well:

case 1st m n1st f 2nd m n2nd f 3rd m    3rd n    3rd f   
nom.sg.     jàz     òn óno óna
acc.sg.     méne / me     tébe / te njéga / ganjô / jo
gen.sg. njé / je
dat./loc.sg.     méni / mi     tébi / ti njému / munjêj / jej
ins.sg.   menój, mâno   tebój, tâbo njím njó
nom.du. mîdvamêdve vîdvavêdve ónadva ónidve
    náju *     váju * njíju (ju, jih, nju)
dat./ins.du.     náma *     váma * njíma / jima
nom.pl. óni óna óne
acc./gen.pl.     nàs *     vàs * njíh / jih
dat.pl.     nàm *     vàm * njìm / jim
ins.pl.     nâmi     vâmi njími

Cases marked with an asterisk (*) have 'short' forms equal to 'long' ones, but without stress. As in Croatian, the reflexive pronoun sébe has the same endings as tébe, but forms for sg. only, as we expect.


The endings for present are (three classes + two forms "to be" + negative "to be"):

1st sg. -e-m -a-m -i-m sem /səm/ bom nisem /nisəm/
2nd sg. -e-š -a-š -i-š si boš nisi
3rd sg. -e -a -i je bo ni
1st du. -e-va -a-va -i-va sva bova nisva
2nd/3rd du. -e-ta -a-ta -i-ta sta bosta nista
1st pl. -e-mo -a-mo -i-mo smo bomo nismo
2nd pl. -e-te -a-te -i-te ste boste niste
3rd pl. -e-jo -a-jo -i-jo, -e so bodo, bojo niso

The verb "have not" is nimam. The past and infinitive of n-verbs use ni instead of nu: dvignem, dvignil, dvignila, dvigniti, as in some dialects in Croatia.

Some characteristic verbs:

berem, bral "read" {čitam}
čutim "feel" {osjëćam}
jočem, jokal "cry" {plačem, plakao}
kličem, klical "call" {zovem, zvao}    
pogrešam "miss, lack"
slišim, slišal "hear" {čujem, čuo}
štejem, štel "count" {brojim, brojao}
upam "hope" {nadam se}
vem*, vedel, vedela, vedeti (!) "know" {znam}
vprašam "ask" {pitam}

Some verbs differ just a bit from Croatian:

čakam "wait" {čekam}
jem, jedel, jedla, jesti "eat" {jedem, jeo, jela, jesti}
plavam "swim" {plivam}
sedim, sedel ~ sedem, sedel, sedla, sesti "sit" {sjedim ~ sjëdnem, sjëo, sjëla, sjësti}
vzamem, vzel perf. "take" {uzmem, uzeo}

There are many verbs common with Čakavian or Kajkavian:

iščem, iskal "search"
grem, šel, šla, iti (!) "go"    
spim, spal "sleep"
vračam ~ vrnem "return"

Verbs indicated with * change as bom, that is, have some specific endings.

Other Characteristics

Slovene uses the 'German' number system for numbers 21-99, that is, tens after ones:

enaintrideset "31" (comp. German einunddreißig)

Numbers 0-10 are as follows: (0) nič, (1) ena (or en/eno), (2) dve (or dva), (3) tri, (4) štiri, (5) pet, (6) šest, (7) sedem /sedəm/, (8) osem /osəm/, (9) devet, (10) deset.


[will be expanded later]

[to be continued]

Updated 2014-08-21


Mia Erbus said...

Small correction: "vem*, vedel, vedela, vedeti (!) "know" {znam}", so not "veti" but "vedeti" - if you wanted to write an infinitive form ("to know").
Otherwise, great post, hope it will be continued! :)

Daniel N. said...

Uh, you're right! :( Will be corrected immediately. Please post any more comments/remarks/suggestions you find! lp

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