Differences between the Czech and Slovak languages

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This article describes some of the differences between the Czech and Slovak languages . Similar to the two Sorbian languages , these two languages ​​are closely related to one another and yet show striking differences.


The two languages ​​differ mainly in their pronunciation, both in their emphasis and in their sound system.

According to the system

Own Slovak sounds, which do not exist in Czech and which are sometimes represented graphically differently, are the ä, the diphthongs ia / ie / iu and ô, the dz, the dž, and the ľ (for the pronunciation of these sounds see in the respective language articles). In Slovak, however, there is no ř. In both languages, l and r can appear as vowels; in Slovak there is also a difference between long and short r or l. (Czech: vrba [vrba], Slovak: vŕba [vr: ba], German: willow). The assimilation of sounds and a kind of liaison in pronunciation is (at least in the written language) much more pronounced in Slovak than in Czech, for example Czech: v očích [f 'ʔɔtʃi: x] Slovak: v očiach [' votʃiax] ('in den Eyes').


The vocabulary of both languages ​​is largely identical apart from the phonetic differences. The main differences concern the following areas:

a) Foreign words have often been deliberately replaced by own formations in the standard Czech language, but they are common in Slovak, compare

  • Second : Czech vteřina = Slovak second
  • January : Czech leden = Slovak január , similar to the other month names
  • Grammar : Czech mluvnice = Slovak gramatika etc.
  • Bottle : Czech láhev = Slovak fľaša

b) in Slovak there are a small number of Hungarian words that are missing in Czech, compare

  • Message : Slovak chýr = Hungarian hír

and words of the shepherds living in the Carpathian region, compare

  • Sheep cheese : Slovak bryndza , means cheese in Romanian (written brânza or brînza )

c) certain areas of the basic vocabulary, for example

  • speak : Czech mluvit / hovořit = Slovak hovoriť
  • make : Czech dělat = Slovak robiť
  • yes (probably) : Czech jo = Slovak hej
  • if, if : czech jestli / ... li = Slovak ak
  • Goodbye : Czech na shledanou = Slovak dovidenia

The similarities are largely due to the fact that Czech was used as a written language in large parts of Slovakia from the 15th to 18th centuries. In the 19th century, the new Slovak written language moved away from Czech (partly deliberately), and during this time individual words from dialects were also adopted into the written language. In addition, a separate scientific terminology was created, especially in biology . During the time of the common state of Czechoslovakia , the languages ​​converged again. From 1918 to the 1930s, the Czechoslovak authorities assumed the fiction of a Czechoslovak language; in fact, during this time Slovak was deliberately introduced to Czech. After clear resistance turned against this policy in the 1930s, it was not resumed after 1945. But until the end of Czechoslovakia, terminological commissions endeavored to keep the technical vocabulary of both languages, especially the newly emerging, as similar as possible.

Since the 1960s and 1970s in particular, mutual accessibility through radio, film and television in the common state has contributed to the current similarity of the vocabulary. In this way, all citizens came into contact with the other language. A renewed removal has been observed since the state was separated. The younger generation now has difficulties understanding the other language. Both societies are aware of this phenomenon of gradual linguistic distance from one another and is also a theme in contemporary art and music.


There are major differences between Czech and Slovak when it comes to the declension and conjugation endings , which are generally much more regular and simpler in Slovak (see Prague : Prahain Prague : Czech v Pra z e = Slovak v Pra h e ). Like Czech, Slovak originally had seven grammatical cases , but while Czech still actively uses the vocative (case for addressing people), in Slovak it has been largely replaced by the same nominative . Only in a few special cases (often old, church-related words such as: German son = synsynku , German godfather = kmotorkmotre , German god = bohbože or German father = otecotče ) can his traces be found. The vocative has not been used in grammars for a number of years.


West Slavic languages ​​and dialects in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Numerous, sometimes very different, dialects are spoken in Slovakia, while the importance of dialects in the Czech Republic has declined sharply.


  • Táňa Balcová, Štefan Greňa: Česko-slovenský a slovensko-český slovník . Kniha-spoločník, Bratislava 2004, ISBN 978-80-88814-38-2 , 1031 pages.
  • Magdaléna Feifičová, Vladimír Němec: Slovensko-český a česko-slovenský slovník na cesty . 3. Edition. Kava-Pech, Dobřichovice CZ 2009, ISBN 978-80-87169-14-8 , 192 pages.
  • Želmíra Gašparíková, Adolf Kamiš: Slovensko-český slovník . SPN - Statní pedagogické Nakladatelství, Praha 1967 (new edition 1986, in the introduction there is a comparison of Czech and Slovak morphology, phonology and spelling from a Czech perspective).
  • Konštantín Horecký, Katarina Horecká, Bohuslav Kortman: Česko-slovenský + Slovensko-český slovník rozdílných výrazů . 2nd volumes. Edícia Slovníky, Knižné centrum, Žilina 1997, ISBN 978-80-88723-44-8 / ISBN 978-80-88723-45-5 , 96 pages each.
  • Jaroslav Nečas, Miloslav Kopecký: Slovensko-český a česko-slovenský slovník rozdílných výrazů [CS-SK and SK-CS dictionary of different expressions]. 2nd, revised edition. SPN - Statní pedagogické Nakladatelství, Praha 1989.
  • M. Hattala: Srovnávací mluvnice jazyka českého a slovenského (Comparative grammar of the Czech and Slovak languages). 1857 (out of date in several places)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Creeping distance - example of contemporary music: Czech-Slovak dialogue about the drifting apart of the two languages