Slovenian or Slovene is a South Slavic language spoken mainly in Slovenia. It’s also spoken in parts of Italy, particularly in Friuli Venezia Giulia; in Austria especially in Carinthia and Styria; in Vas in Hungary, and in Croatia.
As a result of migration at the beginning of the twentieth century, Slovenian can also be heard in Ohio, USA, and in South America. Other countries with Slovenian speaking minorities are Serbia, Canada, Australia, and South Africa.
Slovenian is spoken by around 2.5 million people. 2.1 million native speakers live in Slovenia, the rest in Slovenian minority communities all over the world, including the USA, Canada, and Australia.
No data is available on the number of people who are learning Slovenian as their second language. However, quite a few resources and forums for learning Slovenian are available online from which we can judge that there is a noticeable interest in Slovenian as a foreign language.
The difficulty of Slovenian as a foreign language depends on your native language. As a Slavic language, it may be relatively easy for native speakers of other Slavic languages to master, while it is harder for non-Slavic speakers.
There are a few things that may make Slovenian hard to learn: a complex grammar with a lot of inflections including six cases and three numbers (singular, plural, dual); a great number of dialects that differ from each other significantly; hard to pronounce consonant clusters.
On the plus side, the language is mostly written as it is spoken, with very few irregularities.
Yes, it is. In fact, Slovenian is the oldest written Slavic language.
The Slavic languages (also called Slavonic languages) are the Indo-European languages spoken by the Slavic peoples. The Slavic languages are conventionally divided into three subgroups: East, West, and South, which together constitute more than 20 languages.
Among the Slavic languages are: Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian (the East group), Polish, Czech and Slovak (the West group) and Bulgarian and Macedonian (eastern dialects of the South group), and Serbo-Croatian and Slovene (western dialects of the South group).
Slovenian belongs to the same South Slavic language family as Croatian, or Serbo-Croatian, as it is also known. As common for languages from the same group, there is some shared vocabulary and some similarities in the grammatical structure.
However, these are two distinct languages quite different from each other by their unique grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In fact, most people in Croatia and Serbia have difficulty understanding Slovenian.
The opposite, however, is not always true. Slovenes born before 1980 are likely to understand and are even able to speak some Serbo-Croatian. Their exposure to it was considerably higher as the vast majority of TV programs that were aired throughout the country were in Serbo-Croatian. Serbo-Croatian also used to be a compulsory subject at school during that time.