A quick guide to Slovenian, for mountain bikers

If you're heading off to go walking, trekking or biking in Slovenia, why not learn a few phrases? Speaking any Slovenian at all – even to say thank you – will endear you to the locals and make the whole experience that much better.

Slovenia
Slovenia is a small country with a tiny population

The language of Slovenia

Slovenia is a small country with a tiny population; nobody bothers to learn their language. As a consequence, and because tourism is one of their major industries, everyone you’re likely to meet will speak excellent English. A standard response to the question, ‘Do you speak English?’ is, ‘A little,’ followed by a near-fluent conversation.

That said, it is always useful – not to mention polite – to learn a bit of the language of the country you’re visiting. As Slovenia has the decency to provide us with some truly beautiful bike rides, walks and treks, and some of the cheapest nights out in Europe, it’s the least we can do. Here, then, is a handy glossary, but first…

Some notes on pronunciation

Slovenian is a Slavic language coming from the same root as Russian, Polish or Czech, and at first sight it can appear daunting with its accented letters and alien words. But just as Slovenian also contains words with Latin roots to make us feel more at home, it is also surprisingly easy to learn to pronounce.

Without exception, letters and words are pronounced consistently, so once you have learned how to do it properly, it’s always the same.

As a general rule, letters in Slovenian are pronounced in the same way they are in English, with these notable exceptions:

Letter

Pronounced

C‘ts’ as in hats
Č‘ch’ as in church
Ghard g as in goat
H‘ch’ as in loch (we have no real equivalent in English but the Scots come closest; it’s a sort of half-growl at the back of the throat)
I‘ee’ as in seen
J‘y’ as in yellow
Š‘sh’ as in shutter
V‘f’ as in four
W‘v’ as in victor
Ž‘j’ as in Jack (again, we have no real equivalent in English; it’s actually closer to the French j as in Jacques)
AV‘ow’ as in ow

All letters are pronounced, so an e at the end of a word has a sound: for example, the word limonade is pronounced ‘lee-mo-na-deh’. Finally, it’s usually the penultimate syllable that is stressed, but if you’re getting that technical you’re probably already learning Slovenian.

Slovenia is great for mountain biking, walking and trekking

Useful words

Greetings

English

Slovenian

Pronounced

hellodober dan‘dobber dan’
hisdravo‘s-dra-vo’
goodbyenasvidenje‘nas-vee-den-yeh’
byeadijo‘ah-dee-yo’
thank youhvala‘h-vah-la’
thank you very muchhvala lepa‘h-vah-la lay-pah’

Food and drink

English

Slovenian

Pronounced

beerpivo‘pee-vo’
breadkruh‘kruch’ (with the Scottish ‘ch’)
cheesesir‘seer’
coffee (an espresso)…kava‘car-vah’
…with milkz mlekom‘z m-lek-om’
with creams smetano‘s smet-ah-no’
milkmleko‘m-lek-oh’
sandwichsendvič‘send-veech’
soupjuha‘you-ha’
teačai‘chai’
water voda‘voh-da’

Slovenia is great for mountain biking, walking and trekking

Other useful words for mountain bikers

English

Slovenian

Pronounced

cyclingkolesarske‘kol-es-ar-skay’
forestgozd‘goz-d’
inner tubezračnico‘z-ratch-neets-oh’
meadowtravnik‘trau-neek’
mountainplaninska‘pla-neen-skah’
puncturepunkcija‘punk-tsee-ya’
repairpopraviti‘pop-ra-vee-tee’
riverreka‘ray-ka’
trailpot‘pot’
workshopdelavnica‘day-lau-neets-ah’

Fancy going mountain biking in Slovenia?

This is an extract from Rob Houghton's guidebook to Mountain Biking in Slovenia, out now.

Map of  Slovenia
Houghton

Rob Houghton


Rob Houghton has been an outdoor instructor, leader and educator for more years than he cares to remember and he has led educational expeditions on five continents. For as long as he can remember, Rob has always been a cyclist and his first bike was a Raleigh Striker back when they had fake suspension forks on the front. He only took up mountain biking ten years ago after a friend first took him around a trail centre in Wales. He was hooked.

View Articles and Books by Rob Houghton

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