Slovene is a fully developed and internally richly-structured modern language. The codification of literary Slovene in grammars, dictionaries and normative reference books has a rich tradition stemming from the 16th century (the first Slovene book was printed in 1550).
Slovene is an Indo-European language with a highly developed inflectional system (e.g. preservation of the dual). Together with Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Bulgarian, it is classified within the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, although it also has many features in common with the West Slavic branch. The geographic territory of Slovene lies in one of the most complex linguistic contact areas in Europe, where Slavic converges with Romance, Germanic and Finno-Ugric.
In comparison to the majority of other Slavic languages, Slovene has a number of characteristic features in the areas of phonology, lexicology and morphology. To orthographically represent its 29 phonemes, Slovene uses 25 Latin letters, including three with a wedge (č,š,ž).
Slovene is the official and state language of the Republic of Slovenia and the native language of approximately 2.4 million people: about 1.85 million of them live in the Republic of Slovenia.
Despite the fact that Slovene is limited to a relatively small territory and small number of speakers, dialectologists have established the presence of 46 clearly defined dialects, divided into six regional groups: Carinthian, Upper Carniolan, Lower Carniolan, Littoral, Rovte, Styrian and Pannonian.
In the new state of Slovenia, Slovene fully asserted itself immediately in the military, in the customs service, and in state protocol, and in every case its use has expanded into all areas that have opened up with the newest innovations in social and technological development, including the translation of international technical standards, e-mail, web pages, a spell checker and the Slovar slovenskega knjižnega jezika in CD format, and developmental programs for machine translation as well as the machine-based analysis and synthesis of Slovene speech. The growing interest in Slovene as a foreign language (it is taught in Ljubljana and at numerous universities abroad) and the fact that Slovene has worked in an exemplary fashion in the translated version of the Windows operating system are worth stressing.