Slovenian or Slovene is a South Slavic language spoken by about 2.5 million people mainly in Slovenia, and also in Italy, particularly in Friuli Venezia Giulia; in Austria especially in Carinthia and Styria; in Vas in Hungary, and and also in Croatia.
Slovenian is closely related to Croatian and Serbian, particularly to the Kajkavian and Čakavian dialects, and is in fact more or less mutually intelligible with Kajkavian Croatian dialects.
There is a standardised variety Slovenian used in speech and writing which developed from central dialects from the 18th century, and there are also distinct regional varieties some of which differ from the standard language considerably in phonology, vocabulary and grammar. In recent years use of the regional varieties has declined and while they retain their distinct pronunciation, other aspects have become increasingly like the standard language. Slovenian dialects spoken in the Italian province of Udine have not been influenced by standard Slovenian and can be difficult for other Slovenian speakers to understand.
The earliest known examples of a distinct, written form of Slovenian appear in the Freising Manuscripts, (Brižinski spomeniki in Slovenian), which date from around 1,000 AD. The first publised works in Slovenian, a catechism and an ABC appeared in 1551 and the first Slovenian translation of the bible was published in 1584. In 1811 Slovenian was adopted as the language of education, administration and the media and later became the official language of Slovenia.