Languages in Slovakia
The official language of Slovakia is Slovak. It is a descendant of the Proto-Slavic language which itself also derived its origins from the Proto-Indo-European. It is closely related to Western Slavic mainly Czech and also share similarities with other Slavic languages, particularly Southern Slavic and Old Church Slavonic. Influences from Latin, Hungarian, German and English further enriched the Slovak tongue.
While majority of the population speak Slovac, other languages are used especially by the ethnic minorities. Because the republic was once a part of the former Czechoslovakia, Czech is widely understood here. The largest of the ethnic minorities are the Hungarians who mostly lived in the southern part. They speak and write in Hungarian. The Roma or Gypsies who are the second largest minority group speak in Romani. Some of those who live near the borders of Poland and Ukraine speak in Polish and Ukrainian respectively. The Rusyns or Rusins who lived in the Eastern part, the Carpathian Mountains in particular, also have their own language. There is a German community and a number in the population who can speak in German. Russian was a compulsory subject in school until 1989. Still many adults can communicate in Russian. English is gaining quite a following in Slovakia with the young people as its most enthusiastic speakers.
In 2009, the State Language Law of Slovakia underwent a major amendment. It contains a declaration that the Slovak language has priority above all the others spoken in the country. Penalties in the form of fines will be issued to its citizens who will not use Slovak as prescribed by law despite repeated written notices.