Slovene or Slovenian is part of the South Slavic language group (about 30 million speakers), one of three branches of the Slavic languages. The first South Slavic written language to be written was based on a ninth century dialect spoken in Thessalonica, now called Old Church Slavonic. The older form of the language is still used today in liturgical services in some South Slavic Orthodox churches.
Slovene is the first language of about 1.85 million people. The majority of its 2.5 million speakers worldwide live in Slovenia. Besides Slovenia, Slovene is spoken by Slovene national minorities in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy (about 90,000), southern Carinthia, Styria, Austria (25,000), Croatia (between 11,800 and 13,100), southwestern Hungary (3-5,000), Serbia (5,000), and by the Slovenians throughout the rest of the world (300,000), especially in the United States and also Canada, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.
The Slovene alphabet (abeceda) was derived from the system created by Croatian Ljudevit Gaj in the mid-1840s. He intended the alphabet to be used for all forms of the Serbo-Croatian language. Gaj used the Czech alphabet of the 1830s as his guide.