Slovene belongs to the South Slavic language family. It is spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. Slovene is also spoken by Slovenian communities living near the Slovenian border, in countries such as Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. It is the first language of about 2.1 million Slovenian people and is one of the 24 official and working languages of the European Union.
Slovene has a great number of dialects which differ significantly from standard Slovene in terms of phonology, grammar and vocabulary. These dialects are not always mutually intelligible. However use of these regional varieties has declined over the years. Slovenian is closely related to Croatian and Serbian, and is in fact more or less mutually intelligible with a group of Croatian dialects called Kajkavian.
The Slovene alphabet is an extension of the Latin script and consists of 25 letters plus an additional 6 letters: Qq, Ww, Xx, Yy, Ćć and Đđ. These additional letters are used solely for foreign names and loanwords. Accent is not marked, unless it is necessary to distinguish otherwise identical words, such as gòl (naked) and gól (goal).
When translating from Slovene to English, the word count tends to increase.
Slovenia is most likely the only country in the world where a day of culture is a national holiday. Slovenia’s day of culture takes place on 8 February, the anniversary of the death of its celebrated poet, France Prešeren. Prešeren greatly influenced Slovene literature and left an important cultural legacy. Today, literature is still a central part of Slovenian culture. In 2014, Slovenia published 1,831 books, coming second only to the UK in terms of number of books published per capita. Libraries are a cultural institution, with an increasing number of members. The capital’s City Library has over 81,000 members, and is visited by every inhabitant an average of five times a year. In 2015, Ljubljana received the permanent title of City of Literature from UNESCO.