Slovak is spoken by about 5 million people in Slovakia, and by about half a million people outside the country, primarily in the United States and Canada. Slovak comes from Common Slavic, or Old Slavonic. This was the original language from which all the Slavic languages descended.

Slovak is related to Czech and Polish. It is divided into three dialect areas: west, central and east. Slovak is written in the Latin alphabet. Each letter is pronounced in only one way. Accents are added to make vowels long or short. A mark called a mäkcen is used to change the sound of some consonants.

The earliest documents written in the language date from the 15th century. Slovak developed as a national language in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, prompted by a rise in the people's awareness of their national identity and the need for education and literacy in Slovak. The language was first codified by Anton Bernolák (1762-1813), but its final standardization was brought about by L'udovít Štúr (1815-56) and other nationalists, who made the speech of central Slovakia the basis for modern literary Slovak. štúr began a daily newspaper in Slovak in 1845 and encouraged novelists and poets to write in Slovak.
  Did you know?
Slovaks have a rich collection of proverbs for everyday situations. "Každý pes ináe šteká" translates as "Every dog barks differently". "Dobró slovo lepšie od penazi" translates as "A kind word is better than money".
After 1876, the Hungarian government began its policy of Magyarization. Slovak was banned from schools and public offices. It survived only in churches and nationalist publications. In 1918, when Czechoslovakia was created, the ban came to an end. However, Slovaks still worked to keep their language distinct from Czech.

 About 10% of the population is ethnic Hungarian. They live primarily in the south, where Hungarian is taught in schools. About 20,000 Ruthenians or Rusíni make up a minority in Eastern Slovakia. They are related to Ukrainians and speak an Eastern Slavic language similar to Ukrainian.

  English   Slovak
  Hi   Ahoj
  Good-bye    Dovidenia
  Yes   Áno
  No   Nie
  Please   Prosím
  Thank you   D'akujem
  Excuse me   Prepácte mi
  I don't understand   Nerozumiem
  What is it called?   Ako sa to volá?
  Did you know?
Jan Kollár (1793-1825) collected Slavic folksongs and promoted cultural cooperation among Slavic peoples. His 1821 poem, Slávy dcéra (The Daughter of Slavia) was a famous cycle of sonnets based on Slav mythology.