Foreign words influencing the Slovenian language

Denizens are words that came from other languages and are now completely adapted to the Slovenian language. They are pronounced, written and inflected by Slovene literary language rules.

Nowadays we bear witness to an mass acquisition of words from foreign languages, mainly from Germanic and Romance languages. There are more and more companies, commercials and inscriptions that include English descriptions for example.

Many of the people who name products, concepts, phenomena, businesses, or anything similar, think that the item will sell better, if words from other languages are used. This is because they believe that will make them more outstanding and more attractive.

Slovenian has been influenced by the English language for the last 50 years. Pupils and students learn it from an early age. The American culture, movies, music and technology contribute their share to this. Especially in slang, a lot of English words exist, as I wrote about in my post on Slovenian Slang.

Many people think that they will look more intelligent if they will use foreign words, instead of Slovenian. Sometimes that is true, but if there are too many foreign, and somehow non-domestic expressions, it becomes annoying. Not everybody understands what a certain denizen means in Slovenian. Especially if the expressions were introduced to the language recently. And if we have already a certain expression for something in Slovenian, an usage of a denizen is not necessary.

When I did a little online research, I realised there are a lot of words which have been introduced to Slovenian and totally adopted. Most of them come from Latin, Greek, French and English.

Here are some of them:

Denizens from Latin English Translation
proces process
konkretno concretely
ekvator equator
informacija information
generacija generation
ilustracija illustration
kultura culture
tradicija tradition
gimnazija secondary school
populacija population
vibracija vibration
Denizens from Greek English Translation
astronomija astronomy
mehanizem mechanism
kristal crystal
filozofija philosophy
matematika mathematics
sistem system
ideja idea
psiha psyche
praksa practice
planet planet
Denizens from French English Translation
bonton good manners
orientacija orientation
elita elite
civilizacija civilization
park park
inženir engineer
revolucija revolution
dama lady
ideal ideal
moderen fashionable
republika republic
melona melon
pilot pilot
Denizens from English English Translation
rekord record
poni pony
šport sport
kavboj cowboy

For some of these words another, more Slovenian expression, also exists, but most of them are used just in this way.

Here are some, which are used nowadays which have a more authentic Slovenian equivalent:

Denizen More Slovenian English Translation
inspiracija navdih inspiration
konverzacija pogovor v tujem jeziku conversation
negacija zanikanje negation
avdio zvočen audio
emocija čustvo emotion
nervozen živčen nervous
sprej pršilo spray
sentimentalnost čustvenost sentimentality
popularen priljubljen popular
populacija prebivalstvo population
kontekst sobesedilo context
praksa vaja practice
proces postopek process
kontinent celina continent
kvaliteta kakovost quality
ideja zamisel idea
kolektiven skupen collective
eksplozija izbruh explosion
dialekt narečje dialect
kontakt stik contact
stil slog style
kvantiteta količina quantity
karakter značaj character
nacionalnost narodnost nationality

I personally prefer to use the more authentic Slovenian word, but sometimes when I don’t find an expression for a certain word quickly, I use a denizen. However, I avoid using the words ’emocija’ or ‘sentimentalnost’ completely.

You certainly noticed how all these words are similar to English. That’s a result of the historical developement of the languages. Also, more than 50% of the words in English come from the Romance languages, mostly French.

Languages are changing all the time, they have a living structure and words will always enter and leave the language. In Slovenia the oldest expressions and words remain just in the books or are spoken by older people. And new ones are being introduced so quickly from different languages, even I can’t keep up with them. Particularly those from politicians, who like to use somewhat ‘incomprehensible’ expressions. Maybe not without reason.

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Published on July 7, 2013