Slovakia has an estimated population of about 5.4 million people, with the largest ethnic group being the Slovaks, which make up more than 80% of the total population. Hungarians, Czechs, Rusyns, Poles, Ukrainians and the Roma make up the minority ethnic groups in Slovakia. All of these ethnic groups speak their own native languages, which leads to a diversity in the country’s linguistic and cultural landscapes.

Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, spoken by more than 80% of the population. As such, it is given priority over other languages in Slovakia. The use of Slovak in the country is regulated by the State Language Law. Slovak is a Slavic language from the broader Indo-European language family which is spoken in Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Hungary. Speakers of the Slovak language in Slovakia use three common, mutually intelligible dialects: central, eastern, and western dialects. There is also a standard version for teaching in schools. Over the centuries, the Slovak language has developed and expanded due to the influence from other languages such as Latin, Hungarian, Czech, English and German.

Minority ethnic languages spoken in Slovakia may earn a co-official status if there are over 15% of the speakers of the language in a particular municipality. Some of the minority ethnic languages spoken in Slovakia include Hungarian, Rusyn, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, and Roma. Hungarian is the second biggest ethnic language in Slovakia, due to the Hungarians being the second largest ethnic community in the country. Rusyn is recognized as a minority language in Slovakia, with about 33,000 residents of the country speaking the Rusyn language. Czech is also understood by many Slovakians, mainly as a result of the country’s existence as part of the former Czechoslovakia. Other minority languages include Polish, Ukrainian, and Roma.

Slovak Sign Language is used by approximately 15,000 people with hearing difficulties in Slovakia. The SSL is part of the French Sign Language family, and it displays certain disparities with the Czech sign language despite the two languages’ close similarities in the spoken forms.

Slovakia has a large population that is fluent in more than one foreign language and is one of the leading countries in Central Europe in this regard. A majority of the Slovakians understand Russian due to its former use as a study language in the country. Slovakians also possess relatively good knowledge of German, which is especially true for the young people and the highly educated members of the society. Russian and German are followed by English, which is on a quick rise in Slovakia, particularly among the nation’s youth.


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