I hav really been enjoying my time here learning Ukrainian on Duolingo, but I have encountered one major thing so far that I can't quite get my grasp over: stress. Some words seem to have stress on the first syllable, some on the middle syllables, some on the last, and even (although I may just be imagining this!) stress on different syllables on the same word in different sentences! No matter how hard I try, I can't find a pattern! Would anyone be able to give me some tips on stress in Ukrainian? Thank you very much!
I think, this apparent chaos is characteristic of Ukrainian, Belarussian and Russian. It stems from the decay of the Old East Slavic stress system. After only a thousand years, the new system is still a work in progress, so you'll have to deal with ad-hoc patterns and stressing words by analogy for a couple of millenia or so :).
Each word, though, only has one stress. The stresses in the forms of the same word also have a finite amount of patterns. For example, note how in стілець the stress is always on the ending, except for the Nominative form, where there is zero ending. Note the words брат and кіт use a very similar pattern. The word вечір is stem-stressed in singular but ending-stressed in plural. The verb любити in the present tense has its ending stressed in 1st person singular but is stem-stressed everywhere else.
I cannot comment on Ukrainian (let a native speaker give you detailed advice here) but Russian has certain preposition+noun combinations that often have the preposition stressed (which is unimaginable for the rest of the language). These are the remnants of the old system: за́ руку, уда́рить по́ лбу, идти́ по́ лесу and so on. Who knows, it may very well be that Ukrainian has such combinations as well.
Although in general the stress system in Ukrainian seems chaotic and random (as pointed out earlier in this discussion), there are some principles: http://200baliv.org.ua/2012/12/28/yak-pravylno-naholoshuvaty-slova-pryntsypy-naholoshuvannya-problemni-vypadky/ Correct stress for any particular word can be looked up in the dictionary: http://www.rozum.org.ua/
My advice would be not to spend too much time memorizing the rules. The problem is that stress is used only when speaking, and there is no way you will have enough time to stop in the middle of phrase and analyze some particular word. Instead, the skill of stressing the words correctly is much easier picked up in process of listening. As a matter of fact, the principles of stressing are not even mentioned in the school course of Ukrainian, at least they weren't in my case.
The school course does not mention quite a lot. It normally assumes you are a native speaker, so you don't need rules to speak more or less correctly—the only thing you, apparently, need is a set of tricks to spell things correctly. At least, I think it works this way (I have only lived in Russia). I am glad it is slowly changing where I live, with essays they now have.
I don't remember mentioning such things in English course either. We just learned the words, their spelling and pronunciation
School/uni courses of Ukrainian apparently never gave us patterns for stressing, but we commonly had "stressing exercises" which have never been easy :)
It does not. In fact, clear unstressed О's are a notable characteristic of a Ukrainian accent in Russian. There are some other differences (e.g., Я is always ya in Ukrainian, /e/ is a more open sound and [ɪ] used in ти is different than [ɨ] used in ты). Make sure to learn from a Ukrainian speaker; Russians who have learnt Ukrainian as a second language are sure to bring in some Russian features in their pronunciation.
- it works the other way, too. I think BaBaDum used a speaker from Belarus for their Russian words.