Slovak pronunciation is rather simple. Every letter in Slovak alphabet has its unique sound and thus every letter is pronounced. Spelling is quite phonetic.
Vowels and some consonants can be short or long. ´ the acute mark: indicates that the sound of the base letter is lengthened (á, é, í, ŕ), however this is not equal to word stress. Stress in Slovak words always falls on the first syllable of a word. The circumflex over the ô and the umlaut over the ä change the basic sound of the letter. Pronunciation of ä as [æ] is already archaic, but used in written form. The caron, over short letters or an apostrophe next to tall letters, indicates that the sound is palatalized or softened (č, š, ľ, ť). Rhythmic law: syllable with a long vowel sound cannot be followed by another syllable with a long vowel sound in the same word. There is a distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ consonants which is important in pronunciation as well as in Slovak grammar. i vs. y: these two vowels have the same pronunciation in Slovak words, however the use of either of them is based on strict grammar rules. This is considered to be the most difficult part of Slovak language.
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