Dear Slovenian World

The prevalence of English is unrelated to how you felt about English lessons at school.

Let's not forget Slovene's a great language, as long as you're Slovenian.

Some of us who were born in the wrong place need help.

But the help should be a help. Not the hindrance Slovenia prefers.

As regards us learning Slovene, you need to stop thinking you can make money out of watching us suffer.



You'd probably make more money in other ways if we knew what you are going on about.

In fact Slovenian is so difficult for us that even the idea of charging us to learn it is as hilarious as someone paying to have their brains knocked loose.

Not only have we never split our sides following the antics of Kekec on the BBC; Slovenian buyers are few, ignorant of the fig roll and suspicious of the decadent chocolate digestive, refuse to believe they don't already know how to make tea, can be terrified witless by special fried rice, and faced by a vindaloo may ring the Archbishop for an exorcism.


Slovene is more complicated than Spanish or German. Fewer people need or want it.  And even fewer get it.


Expressing Slovenia's disadvantages in terms of the unit net worth of trading with it, simple economics tells us that the Slovenian language barrier is worse in every way than that faced by non-English speakers interacting with Anglophone countries.


So I think you'll agree that the price to learn Slovene in Slovenia should be lower than the cost of learning English in those places. 


So how much? Even the tiny Anglophone area known as the United Kingdom publicly funds free English lessons for immigrants to help them integrate.


So, reflecting the diminutive economic potential of the Slovenophone area, Slovene lessons need to be cheaper than that.  The only way that's possible is for non-Slovene speakers to get paid to learn it.

This is not a joke or an insult. Do you really think we haven't noticed it's not a language barrier, but a language fortress?


The amount of help you need to give us may appear at first to be out of all proportion to the potential benefits, to either party involved in the process.

Personally I somewhat doubt the sincerity of Slovenia's intentions.


It might mean doom for some shortsighted little rackets. But here's what you should have told us if you wanted us to get it a little bit quicker:


Dear Non-Slavic Rest Of The World Which Knows Nothing About Slovene

The first thing you need to know about language in Slovenia is that Romance is dead.

So forget everything you know about Continental Romance languages concerning syntactical relations in ordering words.

German rules don't work either and Germanic influence is mainly limited to borrowed nouns, e.g. "cajt" = Zeit = regular Slovene "čas".

Prepare to accept that typologies like subject-verb-object are difficult to precisely apply. Slovene sentence structure depends on focus.

Where you expect modals, often you'll get prefixes or different verbs altogether. Where you expect pronouns, you have agglutination.

To avoid a depressing blow somewhere a long way down the line, the would-be student of Slovene ought to discover at the outset that different aspectual configurations of action words will not be found next to each other in the dictionary, or next to each other on the internet.

Learn the prefixes first, and consult the non-existent internet resource for foreigners Slovenia has thoughtfully not created for people who did not happen to grow up knowing how to match imperfective/perfective verb pairs.

Suffixes are pretty reliable. Learn the prefixes and the suffixes, then learn the bits that go in between. Your Slovenian teacher will disapprove of bodges and shortcuts like this, and is being paid not per number of useful results, but per hour.  Or not at all.



Concerning the flow of events in time, polarity will be the other way around. Except when it isn't. 


When you want to turn the previous sentence's object into the next one's subject, to carry your story forward, Slovenian's highly inflected morphology makes the word order relatively irrelevant and the passive usually unnecessary compared to the inflexible SVO word order upon which meaning in English depends. 


Consider "The Slovenian internet company hid its assets" versus "The assets of the Slovenian internet company were hidden."  Both are possible.


What matters more is the idea that, in a rather anti-comedic way, Slovene words are equipped with bits to say who or what is doing what to whom or what, with what, and where, and therefore the motive for putting them in any particular order is weak.


This somewhat more hieroglyphic world view tips sentence structure so that the existing, shared knowledge (theme) precedes the new information (rheme).


So our choice of word order depends on whether we are already aware of these assets as a topic, or whether we were discussing the company.


If you think Slovene's saying something happened "already" there's about a 10% chance that's true.

Instrumental and locative cases trump other cases in all cases.  By adding nothing not already perfectly understandable from the context, both are completely pointless, something you spotted in Old English in around the 11th century, when its ablative absconded, never to be heard from again.


Earlier still, even Latin speakers got fed up with the locative, which merged with the pointless instrumental except when referring to islands smaller than Rhodes.  Slovene, standardised in the 18th-20th centuries, has/is stuck with both of these.

Negatives may be remarkably possessive.   "Yes, there are bananas" finds the fruit strangely accusative rather than the existential nominative predicate you expected, but conversely/perversely "No, of bananas we have none" shows how we Yugoslovenians find some genitive consolation in pretending to own the many things we don't have.

Articles are absent.  Crucially different enquiries of our elites, such as "Who owns a country?" and "Who owns the country?" are thus indistinguishable.

In English of course, only things which actually have sex have a sex. And ships. Repeated reminders of the gender of the hen, bitch, cock and bull, or of the performer of some but not other actions aren't needed.


This huge limitation on your romantic opportunities led to a boom in the observant category of "it". 


"It" put paid to any idea of building materials or eating chips being as sexy and quantifiably agreeable as a pair of knickers; the result is that unlike the Slovenian, which can have five amounts of three-way sex with anything, from six different angles, ana Englishi fata lady no washa herih bigas smalls.


Vectors in Slovenian sentences that appear via translation to be missing, are in fact not.

Despite 3 sexes x six cases x 3 numbers making a total of 54 declensions and conjugations, we Slovenians are fond of claiming our language is unable to distinguish between present simple and present continuous
which would make "I drink" and "I am drinking" the same. 


This is not true, but native speakers do not know this. The current is supposedly distinguished from the habitual by adding "now". But you might just be saying you are an alcoholic now.




Suppose you are not from another Slavonic country or Scotland. You will need hypnosis or electric shock training to teach you how to roll your Rs.

You have one question about Slovenian vocabulary, grammar or pronounciation?  Always weigh what you hear in terms of whether the person you're asking really looks like they know what's going on.  Remember that most of the Slovenian economy depends on mistranslation.

Always take a vote if possible.  For instance I got a three-to-one result in favour of "luben`ica" versus "lubeni`ca" (watermelon). But no-one says "Ljublj`ana".

When you have acquired all the above skills you may polish off your fluent Slovene with the stuff Slovenians all think your lesson should begin (and end) with: dvojina, dialect words good for about three kilometers, sexist and racist obscenities, and answering questions about yourself in English.

It's in this last area that the Slovenileaks of the secret language can be found. Its mysteries are not laid bare, but at least its bra strap is undone.


With absurd constructions like "From where it was in England exactly you come?" or "They said he did not went home" we're really giving you elegant clues to Slovenian word order, consecutio temporum, and aspect.



Oh yeah, you wanted to know about those dual people, who got left behind sometime in present-day Slovenia by those nice Proto-Indo-Europeans.


An especially nice touch with dvojina is that there are two ways, namely -m(a/e/i) and -v(a/e/i), of doing a we two / us two / those two / two of them ...whatever, to add to your 4-dimensional spreadsheet of inflections for I / we / familiar you / formal you / plural you / he / she / it / they ...when dealing with things you can in various tenses do, be, have, or have things be done to, perhaps with a tool of some kind, maybe in some sort of a place, whilst the two of you or them are being male, female or neuter. 


Excluding antique equivalents (e.g. prodajano vs. prodano - sold) dvojina increases the number of possible endings from 54 to 72. But what of the grammatical awkwardness of a half-male, half-female dual person? 


Slovene has found a way to simplify this intolerable situation: you have to do it like two guys!










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