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Slavic languages

Subfamily of Indo-European languages / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages spoken primarily by the Slavic peoples and their descendants. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic, spoken during the Early Middle Ages, which in turn is thought to have descended from the earlier Proto-Balto-Slavic language, linking the Slavic languages to the Baltic languages in a Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family.

Quick facts: Slavic, Ethnicity, Geographic distribution, N...
Throughout Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Europe, plus Central Asia and North Asia (Siberia)
Native speakers
c. 315 million (2001)[1]
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
ISO 639-2 / 5sla
Linguasphere53 (phylozone)
Political map of Europe with countries where a Slavic language is a national language.
  East Slavic languages
  South Slavic languages
  West Slavic languages

The Slavic languages are conventionally (that is, also on the basis of extralinguistic features) divided into three subgroups: East, South, and West, which together constitute more than 20 languages. Of these, 10 have at least one million speakers and official status as the national languages of the countries in which they are predominantly spoken: Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian (of the East group), Polish, Czech and Slovak (of the West group) and Bulgarian and Macedonian (eastern dialects of the South group), and Serbo-Croatian and Slovene (western dialects of the South group). In addition, Aleksandr Dulichenko recognizes a number of Slavic microlanguages: both isolated ethnolects and peripheral dialects of more well-established Slavic languages.[2][3][page needed][4]

Slavic languages are highly fusional and, with some exceptions, have richly developed inflection and cases. The word order of the Slavic languages languages is mostly free.

The current geographical distribution of natively spoken Slavic languages includes the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, and all the way from Western Siberia to the Russian Far East. Furthermore, the diasporas of many Slavic peoples have established isolated minorities of speakers of their languages all over the world. The number of speakers of all Slavic languages together was estimated to be 315 million at the turn of the twenty-first century.[1] It is the largest ethno-linguistic group in Europe.[5][6]