Monthly Archives: June 2013

Slovenian Slang: “Kako kul ste?” (How cool are you?)

Slovenian slang expressions are shared between people of about the same age. The most widespread use is among young people, particularly teenagers. Typically, with slang, foreign words and phrases get introduced. In Slovenian slang spoken nowadays, words are taken mostly from English, and in the past German and Serbo-Croatian words were more common.

Slang is everywhere

Slang is present everywhere, including places where it shouldn’t be, for example, in media and books for the youth. Sometimes I’m even shocked when I hear new slang words and wonder where they came from. One reason for the popularity in this teen demographic, according to psychologists, is that slang is said to be a reflection of rebelliousness.

I use some Slovenian slang speaking to my friends too. Talking to my parents I tend to use less, which is good, because I would like to reduce my ‘slang vocabulary’. If I overuse it, I feel like a teenager, and of course I don’t want to feel that way. From observing and talking to some foreigners, I realised that they mostly don’t distinguish standard Slovenian from slang, but for those who started to learn our language, I think they hear the difference. In any case, I’m sure if they hear some Slovenian slang words which sound similar to English, they wouldn’t think that this is a Slovenian word. Maybe my colleague Paddy could say something about this, because he had an opportunity to observe and learn the language for a few months.

Slang is cool

I think that slang is so spread also because it is perceived as being cool, particularly by the younger generation. I have to say that I can hardly imagine that our teenagers would speak only standard Slovenian among themselves. They would seem too serious. A little bit of slang is okay, but everything has its limits.

I observe how people talk among themselves, among young and older generations. It’s surprising that young people talk to older people in a much better way than among their teenage peers. So, luckily a politeness is still been preserved. It’s also great that some people don’t use so much slang, especially if they come from other regions of Slovenia, out of Ljubljana region. In general I think that older generations preserve more the Slovenian standard language while they speak, than young ones. And it’s good that slang changes faster than standard language. Some words come and are popular for a while, and then they leave and some other expressions replace them. So, it’s not something, which could stay in the language forever. In that way standard Slovenian can be better preserved.

Examples of Slovenian Slang

I gathered some interesting expressions, so that, when you visit Slovenia, you can recognise when slang is being used, so you won’t think that our standard language is some strange mixture of Slovenian and English:

Slang Standard Slovenian English Origin
basket košarka basketball
špilat igrati to play from German: spielen
težiti sitnariti to nag
fajtat se pretepati se to fight
laufat teči to run German: laufen
pardon oprosti ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon’
zakva zakaj why
šit sranje shit
drink pijača drink
valda seveda you bet
faca ‘pojava’, also ‘obraz’ ‘character’, also ‘face’
okej ‘v redu’ or ‘dobro’ okay
kul ‘super’ or ‘dobro’ cool
un tisti that
jst jaz ‘I’ or ‘me’
itak seveda of course
totalno popolnoma totally
keš denar cash
tumač preveč too much
sori oprosti sorry
lajf življenje life
beden slab bad, uncool
skos vedno always
bejba dobra ženska babe
‘frend’ (male) or ‘frendica’ (female) ‘prijatelj’ or ‘prijateljica’ friend
d best najboljše the best
‘tip’ or ‘model’ ‘moški’ or ‘fant’ ‘man’ or ‘boy’
folk ljudje ‘folk’ or ‘people’
baje ‘domnevno’ or ‘menda’ supposedly
šov predstava show
plis prosim please
out iti iz mode out (of fashion)
in ‘moderno’ or ‘v modi’ in (fashion)
komp računalnik computer
luzer zguba loser
To ni fer! To ni pravično! It’s not fair!
izi lahek, preprost easy
simpl preprosto simple
flet stanovanje flat
cajt čas time German: die Zeit
mejbi morda, mogoče maybe
tenks hvala thanks

And some sentences with Slovenian slang for fun:

Slang Standard Slovenian English
Ful sm hepi! Zelo sem vesel! (vesela, for females) I’m so happy!
Blo je okej. Bilo je v redu. It was okay.
Kok je blo izi! Kako lahko je bilo! It was so easy!
Ta folk je čist zmešan. Ti ljudje so popolnoma zmešani. These people are totally crazy.
Mejbi pridem dons. Morda pridem danes. Maybe I come today.
Fajn se mej! (‘fajn’ as in ‘fine’) Lepo se imej! Have a nice day!
Moj frend ma ful dobre šuze. Moj prijatelj ima zelo dobre čevlje. My friend has a very nice shoes.
Poslat morm mesič. Poslati moram sporočilo. I have to send a message.
Tenks! Hvala! Thanks!
Dobr biznis! Dober posel! Good business!
Ne tega plis okol govort. Prosim, ne govori tega okoli. Don’t speak about this, please.

Globalisation also affects the language. American culture, movies, music, technology, and internet all strongly influence the adoption of new words and phrases, but, as I mentioned before, slang continuously changes and for that reason it doesn’t represent a big danger. As people grow up and become more serious—because of their job, or a change of mentality—the use of slang usually fades out.

Slovenian Slang in Advertising

I remembered some brands which use slang to be ‘cooler’, and ‘teenage’ or ‘youth friendly’:

Fruc ad using Slovenian slang

One of the Slovenian brands using slang to promote their products. The slang words are ‘kul’ and ‘totalno kul’

Mobitel itak ad using Slovene slang

The Mobitel brand and their mobile package ‘Itak’

Si.mobil ad using Slovenian slang

A mobile package, ‘Simpl kidz’ (simple kids), from Si.mobil

Typographic differences between Slovenian and English

The Slovenian and English languages have their typographic differences.

Lowercase dates

In Slovenian, days and months start with lowercase letters, as opposed to capitals in English.

Days

Dnevi

Day English Translation
ponedeljek Monday
torek Tuesday
sreda Wednesday
četrtek Thursday
petek Friday
sobota Saturday
nedelja Sunday

Months

Meseci

Month English Translation
januar January
februar February
marec March
april April
maj May
junij June
julij July
avgust August
september September
oktober October
november November
december December

Ordinal Numbers

In contrast to the English suffixes, ordinal numbers in Slovenian are noted by a number, followed by a dot.

Slovenian ordinal number used in the date on Zurnal24.si

Note the date, 23rd June, written as 23. junij

Ordinal Number Slovenian English Translation
1. prvi 1st
2. drugi 2nd
3. tretji 3rd
4. četrti 4th
5. peti 5th
6. šesti 6th
7. sedmi 7th
8. osmi 8th
9. deveti 9th
10. deseti 10th

Currency and prices

Slovenia has used the Euro since January 1st 2007. Prices are usually listed with ‘EUR’ and a space, in front of the numerical value, with cents separated by a comma. In Ireland and the UK, the Euro symbol comes before the numerical value, and cents are separated by a dot.

Slovenian Price Ireland and UK Price
EUR 15,95 €15.95

Postal Addresses

Addresses are also formatted different than in the UK and Ireland, in that the address number comes after the street name.

Slovenian Address Irish/UK Address
Moj naslov je Slovenska ulica 5 My address is 5 Slovenska street

If you know of any other differences, let us know and we’ll add them to our list.

The examples used are excerpts from the Dates and Numbers lessons in our program Learn Slovenian Online. The full program comes with audio for each lesson, performed by a native Slovenian speaker. If you are interested in the program, you can try a free lesson now.

Slovenian Dialects

The Slovenian language is a South Slavic language with around 2.5 million speakers worldwide, most of whom live in Slovenia. It is one of the few Indo-European languages that has still preserved dual use. A large variety of dialects, depending on the number of speakers, is a reflection of the great diversity of а language.

The number of Slovenian dialects makes it one of the most parsed European languages. For all dialects, dual is in use consistently, and they are divided according to the melody, accent and vocabulary. The same goes for architecture, customs, music, and mentality, which vary between regions.

Relative to other countries in Europe, Slovenia is miniature, and its regions reflect the climatic, linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe.

After a general assessment, the Slovenian language has around 46 dialects. You may ask yourself, how such a small country has so many dialects. Such diversity is conditioned by geographical (being a small territory, and the resulting influence of neighbouring countries), political, historical, character, and social, among other influences. Various settlers in today’s Republic of Slovenia, arriving from different parts of the world played a role, as did the geographical characteristics of territories, which prevented regular contact between residents of  neighbouring languages.

Slovenian dialects are so different in some cases, that people can find difficult to understand each other. Also, because of this reason, the Slovenian standard language is in use, which is mainly encountered only in book form and public media.

Dialects are classified in 7 dialect groups:

  1. Upper Carniolian (gorenjsko narečje) 
  2. Lower Carniolian (dolenjsko narečje) 
  3. Styrian (štajersko narečje ) 
  4. Pannonian (panonsko narečje) 
  5. Carinthian (koroško narečje ) 
  6. Littoral (primorsko narečje) 
  7. Rovte (rovtarsko narečje) 
  8. Plus, I would add a dialect (or even better, a speech) which is spoken in the Ljubljana region. If it’s spoken correctly (without slang), it draws nearest to the standard Slovenian language.

Slovene dialects are also spoken outside of the state border, because Slovenian minorities live there. Those dialects are influenced by several neighbouring languages such as Italian, German (mostly), Croatian, and Hungarian. Deviations between these dialects can be so big speakers may have problems understand each other. For example, a person from Primorska region can have major challenges speaking to sombody from Prekmurje region, in their respective dialects.

Map of Slovenian dialects

Sources

Personal Observations on Slovenian Dialects

From my point of view, there are vast differences between Slovenian dialects. I have had (and still have) a chance to observe dialects of the Ljubljana and Dolenjska region. So, for example, I know the Lower Carniolian dialect has several German expressions.

Examples from the Lower Carniolian dialect:

Lower Carniolian Dialect Standard Slovenian English Translation German
antula brisača towel
cvek žebelj nail
cajt čas time die Zeit
flaša steklenica bottle die Flasche
južna kosilo lunch
kišta zaboj box die Kiste
luft zrak air die Luft
nucat uporabiti to use nutzen
pob fant boy
štenge stopnice stairs die Stiege

In most cases it’s true when they say every Slovenian village has its own accent (in Slovenian: ‘Vsaka vas ima svoj glas’). It’s interesting how people can use more dialects for different occations, for example when they are at work, they use a standard Slovene, but at home a dialect of certain region. Specially if they work with customers or clients. A good example of this is my mother.

In Littoral dialect (primorsko narečje) they use a lot of words from Italian, and in Styrian dialect (štajersko narečje) they use a lot of German expressions. In my opinion, the most unknown and somehow strange Slovenian dialect comes from Prekmurje region. I can’t understand it at all. Maybe this is because of the Hungarian influence in this area. The Hungarian language belongs to Ugro-Finnish language group, which is quite rare and unique.

I tried to find examples of dialects from different regions and I had some difficult doing so, but anyway, here are some, which I found on a Slovenian forum and are quite funny:

English Why do you call me when I’m walking the dog?
Standard Slovenian Zakaj me kličeš, ko sprehajam psa?
Styrian dialect (from Maribor) Kaj mi te težiš ko s’n glih s pesom vuni?
Ljubljana accent (slang) Kva moriš k psa šetam?
Carinthian dialect Ka težiš ko sn s paso zuna?
Pannonian dialect (Prekmurje region) Zakoj me zovejš glij te gda psa šejtan?
Styrian dialect (from Prlekija) Čüj, ka me zoveš, gli te kda pesa sprehojan?
Upper Carniolian dialect Zakuga me kličeš lih k psa sprehajam?
Littoral dialect (Kras region) Kej me hnjav’š lih ku sm wnh s p’sm!

In the Ljubljana region people are called ‘žabarji’, which would mean ‘frog people’ in English. That’s because the typical inhabitants of Ljubljana say ‘kva‘ instead of ‘kaj‘, which means ‘what‘. And a frog makes sounds like ‘kva’. Other sources say that the interrogative ‘kva‘ comes from the French word ‘quoi‘, which also means ‘what‘ and is pronounced quite the same.

"Kva pa je, žabarji so bli kle!" (What is it? Frog people were here!)

“Kva pa je, žabarji so bli kle!” (What is it? Frog people were here!)

This was an introduction to Slovenian dialects. I could write much more about this topic, but the post could turn into a small book. Maybe you are wondering, which is my favourite dialect. I like when the language is spoken in standard way, even though I speak in slang with people I know. It would be funny to do a survey about favourite Slovenian dialects. I’m wondering what the results would be. Because it’s like this, most people out of Ljubljana say that Ljubljana’s people are fooling around while they speak, but most of dialects from other regions are funny to people from Ljubljana too. So, it’s hard to say who is right. As long as we understand each other, everything is fine.

Anki Flashcards and Learn Slovenian Online

To get the most out of the Learn Slovenian Online program, it’s important to make use of the Anki flashcards included throughout the course.

The end of several lessons feature exercises you can complete to test your knowledge as you study the course. The majority of sections also include a selection of digital flashcards, for use with Anki.

Anki flashcards are a valuable learning tool

Anki is a free program which allows you to test yourself using these digital flashcards and works on the basis of spaced-repetition learning, a technique which has been shown to significantly increase memory retention.

Anki is a program which makes remembering things easy. Because it’s a lot more efficient than traditional study methods, you can either greatly decrease your time spent studying, or greatly increase the amount you learn.—Ankisrs.net

For more on using Anki for language learning, Tower of Babelfish wrote a great post, which includes a tutorial for installing Anki.

Video: How to download and import Anki Flashcards for use with Learn Slovenian Online

Learn Slovene with the help of Slovenian music

I recently found out that learning a foreign language with the help of music can be really effective. To aid you on your quest to learn Slovene, I would like to present to you some of our Slovenian musicians and particular songs which can help you to learn and develop your ear for the language a little bit more. I have used, and am using, this method to learn French, Italian, Portuguese and English.

Recommended Artists to help learn Slovene

Miran Rudan

Learn Slovene with musican Miran Rudan

Miran’s musical style is pop. He has great voice and sings clearly and most of his songs are romantically themed. Miran started to practice music at primary school. He was a member of the groups, Pop Design, Moulin Rouge and Randez Vous and now follows a solo career.

I gathered, what are in my opinion, some of his the most beautiful songs:

The last one ‘Laure ni več’ is a cover song from ‘Laura non c’è’ of Italian singer Nek.

Sound Attack

Learn Slovene with dance group sound-attack

The group was found by Simon Šurev and Pika Božič in 1997. Their music style is mostly dance and house. Pika Božič is focusing on her solo career now.

Some of their hits:

  • Ko te ni (When you aren’t here)—VideoLyrics
  • Vrni mi ljubezen (Love me back)—Video
  • Kje si zdaj (Where are you now)—VideoLyrics
  • Le tebe še hočem (You are all I want)—Video

Rebeka Dremelj

Learn Slovene with Slovenian singer Rebeka Dremelje

Rebeka is a Slovenian pop/rock singer and Miss Slovenia 2001. She performed in Eurovision song contest in Belgrade 2008, with the song ‘Vrag naj vzame’. She is one of the most popular Slovenian music artists.

  • Vrag naj vzame (To hell with it)—Video—Lyrics are embedded in the video.
  • Pod mojo kožo (Under my skin)—VideoLyrics
  • Pojdi z menoj (Come with me)—VideoLyrics

Kingston

Learn Slovene with KingstonKingston is a Slovenian music group, founded in 1994. Their songs can be classified as pop, reggae and latino music.

List of songs:

  • Cela ulica nori (The whole street is tottaly wild)—VideoLyrics
  • Ko sije luna na obalo (When the moon shines to the coast)—Video—Lyrics are embedded in the video.
  • Tropicana club—VideoLyrics
  • Ko bo padal dež (When the rain will be falling)—VideoLyrics

Pepel in kri (literally Ashes and blood)

Learn Slovene with Pepel in kriPepel in kri were a Slovenian vocal/instrumental group in 70’s. They performed in Eurovision song contest in 1975, for Yugoslavia, with an Evergreen song, ‘Dan ljubezni’. They are one of the most unforgettable Slovenian Evergreen groups.

Bele vrane (literally White crows)

Learn Slovene with Belle VraneBele vrane were also a vocal/instrumental group which were active in 60’s and 70’s. Their songs are still popular. In fact, a recent remix exists of their song ‘Maček v žaklju’.

  • Maček v žaklju (A pig in a poke, literally ‘A cat in a sack’)—VideoLyrics
  • Mala terasa (A small terrace)—Video—Lyrics are embedded in the video.

Marjana Deržaj

Learn Slovene with singer Marjana DeržajMarjana was a Slovenian pop music singer. She was active in 60s and died in 2005. Her the most recognisable songs are Poletna noč, Zemlja pleše, V Ljubljano.

Here are two other Wikipedia resources related to Slovenian music:

Slovenian and Sanskrit Surprising Similarities

The similarities between Slovenian and Sanskrit are surprising. Sanskrit has a phonetic script, the same as the Slovenian language. They also share the reversed sequence of ones and decades. For example, 31, written as ‘enaintrideset’ in Slovenian, is literally translated at ‘one and thirty’. In Sanskrit 31 is written as ‘eka-trimšat’, ‘one and thirty’.

Ancient Sanskrit parchment, setting the stage for similarities with Slovenian

The first few numbers are written in similar fashion:

Number Slovenian Sanskrit
1 ena eka
2 dve dve
3 tri trini
4 štiri čatvari
5 pet panča
6 šest šat
3rd tretji tritija
4th četrti čaturthi

Slovenian and Sanskrit are the only languages know, which have the grammatical number dual. What appear to be remnants of dual that are still notable in Ukrainian, and some other Slavic languages, in fact have nothing to do with the grammatical dual, the similarities are coincidental.

The Slovenian language has six cases, three grammatical numbers (singular, dual, plural) and three grammatical persons (masculine, feminine, neuter). Sanskrit is identical with the exception that features one more case, ‘ablativ’.

Other similarities include conjugation of verbs and several words:

English Slovenian Sanskrit
to give dati dadhate
day dan dina
heaven nebesa nabhas
night noč niš
to hold prijeti parjeti
to drive peljati se palati
to drink piti pitje
mother mater matr
fog megla megha
to live živeti živati
winter zima hima
to walk hoditi hudati

This article is a paraphrased excerpt from the book Človek: navodila za uporabo (Human: Instructions for Use).

Delving into Slovenian and Sanskrit roots

By the 1960’s, at the latest, Slovenians learned about the similarities between their language and Sanskrit. A hundred years later foreign lexicologists have discovered an astounding fact, that Sanskrit and Slovenian share in total more than 30% of their linguistic core roots. In addition, they have also many common grammatical characteristics; only these two languages are known for dual, and their declensions are almost completely identical.

With these discoveries, some foreign linguists have mistakenly concluded that similarities between the languages are the results of Sanskrit influencing Slovenian. Whereas the author (of the article referenced below) concludes that it is the other way around; a version of Slovenian, older than Sanskrit existed. This ancient form of Slovenian is said to be more similar to ancient Sanskrit.

This article is an excerpt from the January 21st edition of Misteriji magazine.