Slovak is spoken by slightly fewer than 5 million people in Slovakia, and by about half a million people outside the country, primarily in the United States and Canada. Slovak belongs to the West Slavic branch of the Slavic Languages. It is divided into three dialect areas: west, central, and east. Slovak is written in the Latin alphabet with diacritics or diacritical marks, and it is most closely related to Czech, under the cultural influence of which it has developed through most of its history. Slovak has preserved many of the basic Slavic word roots and sounds of Common Slavic, the original language from which all the Slavic languages descended. Slovak developed as a national language in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, prompted by a rise in the Slovak people's awareness of their national identity and the accompanying need for education and literacy.

Slovak preserves the Common Slavic contrast between short and long vowels (referring to the length of the vowel's sound), with the long vowels represented in writing by an acute accent mark. Slovak also has developed a set of diphthongs (ia, ie, iu, ou, and uo�"the latter written as ) that function as long vowels. The sounds r and l function as either consonants or vowels; as vowels, they can be either long or short. Slovak shares with the Czech language the spelling of the consonants c, š, and ", pronounced ch, sh, and zh, respectively. The Slovak language has gained the soft dental consonants t', d', l', and , but it lacks a soft r. Compared with Czech, Slovak word structure has been simplified. Stress falls on the first syllable of a word.

Slovak nouns have one of three genders (masculine, feminine, neuter) and six cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative). The vocative case has been virtually lost. Adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number (singular and plural), and case. Verbs have two tenses (past and present) and two aspects (perfective and imperfective), the latter indicating the duration of the verb's activity. Many verbs have an iterative form, which expresses repeated action. Slovak has a complex numeral system and a well-developed system of indefinite pronouns and adverbs. Slovak word order generally places the most informative elements at the end of a sentence, often violating the language's basic subject-verb-object sentence structure.

Food and Drink

Traditional Slovak eating and drinking habits date back to the old Slavic period influenced later by Hungarian, Austrian and German cooking. Slovak food is based on many different kinds of soups, gruels, boiled and stewed vegetables, roast and smoked meats and dairy products. The style of cooking varies from region to region. Slovak specialties include salted and sweetened dishes made with flour, including dumplings. One such dish is the popular bryndzove halusky (small potato dumplings with sheep cheese).

Popular drinks include Slovak beer, wine and mineral waters. Borovicka (strong gin) and slivovica (plum brandy) are particular specialties with wine from the Tokaj region and sparkling wine from the Bratislava region.

A repository for Slovak Recipes

A overview of Slovak Alcoholic Beverages