Slovene i/ˈsloʊviːn/ or Slovenian i/slɵˈviːniən/ (slovenski jezik orslovenščina, not to be confused with slovenčina, the native name ofSlovak) belongs to the group of South Slavic languages. It is spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. It is the first language of about 2.1 million Slovenian people and is one of the 24 official and working languages of the European Union. Classification Slovene is an Indo-European language belonging to the Western subgroup of the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, together with Serbo-Croatian. It is close to the Chakavian and especially Kajkavian dialects of Serbo-Croatian, but further from the Shtokavian dialect, the basis for the Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian standard languages. Furthermore, Slovene shares certain linguistic characteristics with allSouth Slavic languages, including those of the Eastern subgroup, such as Bulgarian. History Like all Slavic languages, Slovene traces its roots to the same proto-Slavic group of languages that produced Old Church Slavonic. The earliest known examples of a distinct, written Slovene dialect are from the Freising Manuscripts, known in Slovene as Brižinski spomeniki. The consensus estimate of their date of origin is between 972 and 1093 (most likely before 1000). These religious writings are among the oldest surviving manuscripts in any Slavic language. Geographical distribution The language is spoken by about 2.5 million people, mainly in Slovenia, but also by Slovene national minorities in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy (around 90,000 in Venetian Slovenia, Resia Valley, Canals Valley, Province of Trieste and in those municipalities of the Province of Gorizia bordering with Slovenia), in southern Carinthia and some parts of Styria in Austria(25,000). It is also spoken in Croatia, especially in Istria, Rijeka and Zagreb (11,800-13,100), in southwestern Hungary (3-5,000), in Serbia (5,000), and by the Slovene diaspora throughout Europe and the rest of the world (around 300,000), particularly in the United States (most notably Ohio home to estimated 3,400 speakers), Canada, Argentina, Australia and South Africa.