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What do Angelina Jolie, Andy Warhol, Paul Newman and Jon Bon Jovi have in common? The fact that one of their parents or grandparents come from Slovakia!
The Slovak language, sometimes also called Slovakian, is an Indo-European language belonging to the Slavic group. Its origins are strongly connected to those of Czech due to their very close geographical location. They are both part of the West Slavonic group of languages, which uses the Latin alphabet. One of the most relevant events that impacted the evolution of the Slovak language was the arrival in the 9th century of two missionary brothers, Saints Cyril and Methodius, in the area called Great Moravia, of which a part is now Slovakia. They helped, through the translation of the Bible, the spread of the Old Church Slavonic language – which was gradually displaced by Latin in the 10th century in the fields of administration, religion and literature.
After the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, both Czech and Slovak were recognised as official languages in the country. While the two parts spoke their own language, they could easily understand each other: the two languages, because they are very close to one another, formed a dialect continuum. In 1993 Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Slovakia retained only Slovak as the official language.
More than 7 million people speak Slovak but not only in Slovakia: there are minorities in Hungary, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland and the Czech Republic. It is one of the official languages of the European Union since Slovakia joined in 2004. Thanks to the favourable geographical position of the country in the heart of Central Europe, a continuous economic growth for the next years has been predicted: Slovakia is considered an attractive business partner by other regions of the EU.