The Sounds of Slovenian

The Slovenian Alphabet and the Pronunciation of Slovenian Words.

Slovenian is printed and written using the Latin alphabet which is also the alphabet used for English.  There are a few minor variations in the letters themselves and there are, of course, variations in the sounds they represent.  The English alphabet has 26 letters while the Slovenian has 25.  In the Slovenian alphabet the English letters Q, W, X and Y are missing and the letters Č, Š and Ž are added.

Here is the Slovenian alphabet with a guide to the sounds the letters represent (using two Toronto based Canadian English pronunciation examples followed by two or three Slovenian words with their English equivalents in brackets).  As a rule accents are not indicated in Slovenian.  However, in these pages, to assist students in learning pronunciation, for multisyllabic Slovenian words the stress is indicated by an underscore.  In the example words below the bolded letters have similar / identical sound values.

Letter
English
Slovensko (Angleško)

A, a

(stressed, long)

father

saw

kava (coffee)

hvala (thank you)

A, a

(stressed, short)

nut

butter

čas (time)

brat (brother)

A, a

(unstressed, short)

corona

garage

voda (water)

kako (how)

B, b

ball

book

belo (white)

beseda (word)

C, c

pizza

insects

mesec (month)

restavracija (restaurant)

Č, č

chicken

chilly

čisto (clean)

več (more)

D, d

door

doctor

dava (country)

Kanada (Canada)

E, e

(long, narrow)

plate

lane

len (lazy)

teden (week)

mesto (city)

E, e

(long, broad)

apple

man

teta (aunt)

ena (one)

E, e

(short)

egg

ready

oče (father)

kmet (farmer)

E, e

(very short)

her

animal

deš (rain)

veter (wind)

F, f

fly

falter

fant (boy)

profesor (professor)

G, g

green

regal

glas (voice)

vogal (corner)

H, h

halt

heavy

hitro (quickly)

muha (fly)

I, i

(long)

machine

feel

sin (son)

riba (fish)

I, i

(short)

pit

middle

kit (whale)

miš (mouse)

jezik (language)

J, j

yawn

boy

jama (pit, cave)

jasno (clear)

K, k

clean

kite

karka (basketball)

obisk (visit)

L, l

light

focal

delavec (worker)

hvala (thank you)

M, m

many

dream

zanimivo (interesting)

nogomet (football, soccer)

N, n

notable

new

vino (wine)

ena (one)

O, o

(long)

law

off

oreh (walnut)

kosa (scythe)

O, o

(short)

born

course

otrok (child)

nož (knife)

noga (foot)

O, o

(very short)

continue

reconcile

obisk (visit)

krompir (potato)

P, p

pole

rip

pozdrav (greeting)

ampak (but, rather)

R, r

Always rolled (see NOTE below)

As in "r-roll up the r-rim to win."

Sometimes vowel-like with an "-er" sound.

trdo (hard)

dobro (good)

črn avto (black car)

rjava krava (brown cow)

S, s

son

respond

sin (son)

jasno (clear)

Š. š

shoulder

rush

šola (school)

miš (mouse)

T, t

time

fit,

toplo (warm)

fantek (little boy)

U, u

(long)

moon

room

kuhinja (kitchen)

uho (ear)

U, u

(short)

shoe

two

kruh (bread)

ključ (key)

U, u

(very short)

turn

measure

kup (heap)

turist (tourist)

V, v

value

reveal

varno (safe)

revno (poor)

Z, z

dozen

raze

prazno (empty)

zima (winter)

Ž, ž

treasure

garage

želodec (stomach)

dež (rain)

NOTE: The r sound used in Slovenian in a new sound to speakers of English (as spoken in the Toronto area - hereafter just English) which virtually always uses an "unrolled" r sound as in road or read or burn.  However, a "rolled" r which is the r sound used in Slovenian is nevertheless often heard in the Toronto area perhaps most commonly as a feature of English spoken with a Scottish accent.  The  rolled r sound is not totally absent from English.  For example, when describing the noise of a machine one may utter r-r-r-r-r.  If one uses the unrolled r sound, what one hears comes from the back of the throat and evokes the impression of one long, extended "unrolled" r sound.  However if one "trills" the utterance (five times for r-r-r-r-r) by using the tip of the tongue to chop the utterance, it becomes a string of "rolled" r sounds.  So, the usual Slovenian r sound is a single trill rolled r.

 

In case you haven't noticed, you are in the process of acquiring a bit of Slovenian vocabulary!

 

EXERCISE:  List the English words given in brackets above and then, without looking at the web page, write the Slovenian meaning beside each English word.

EXERCISE:  Repeat the preceding exercise until you get most of the words right most of the time.

EXERCISE:  Repeat both of the exercises above starting with the Slovenian words.

 

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