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https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98

Slavic Languages

NickM98
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Hello! I make this topic because I've been wondering something about Slavic Languages. The other day, I read somewhere in a social networking site, a person who had written "I speak a Slavic language, thus I understand any Slavic language", and I was wondering how much similarity is there between, for example, Ukranian and Croatian. I mean, by speaking Spanish, I actually understand quite a lot of other romanic languages; but even though I speak English, I don't understand any other Germanic language.

Well, that's it. Thank you :)

4 years ago

35 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/groosha5
groosha5
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I speak Russian and have family in and from Ukraine. Russian and Ukrainian are extremely similar and I can pretty much understand most of Ukrainian. I can also understand some Czechoslovakian, enough to get the gist of things. Polish and Ukrainian have a few similarities, I can't understand Polish. I hope that answers some things.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

I am russian in origin. Here's my experience: They use so many of the same constructs and vocabulary, that a lot of them would pass for dialects -- most of them are not farther apart from each other than, say, Hochdeutsch (high german) and Bayerisch (Bavarian).

A personal anecdote: - I worked on a construction site among serbs and croatians for a month. In the end I could understand everything they said (including the vast amount of obscenities). That is a lot shorter interval than what I needed to get used to understanding Switzerdütch when moving from Germany to Switzerland.

  • I can read pretty much anything written in another slavic language, but the speed varies vastly, depending on which slavic language it is.

  • I need a dictionary for "south slavic" languages like Slovene or Chech because they use a different subset of slavic vocabulary than we do. For example, slovenian sounds vastly outdated to me, possibly because it resembles "church slavonic" (which is, by the way, a synthetic language.)

  • Listening comprehension is quite different -- Polish uses a LOT of the same word roots, but they pronounce stuff so differently that, while I can more-or-less freely read it (I was reading a fantasy novel in polish until I found a fantastic russian translation), I can barely understand a word when someone speaks it.

A Slovenian friend of mine, by the way, has a really hard time understanding any Russian at all, so some of those relationships might be not bi-directional -- so "your mileage may vary".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hrelinho

I found Russian as very interesting language. I hope one day I'll try to learn that language. Supposed to be easier to learn it from Croatian? Ajde da napišem nešto na hrvatskom pa da vidimo hoćeš li razumjeti :) pozdrav iz Hrvatske

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

Yes, I think you will have a lot easier time learning it from croatian than from english. I suspect you will either be confused or have to laugh a lot, because things are "just a little bit off" -- for example "Айда" means explicitely "let's go" (not just "let's"), and "напишем" is a "we write" (second person plural, not singular) -- so for a russian all you guys are speaking in plural about yourself all the time. But if you know your synonyms, I think you will have little trouble understanding what's going on.

Читается как "Давай-ка напишу что-нибудь на кроатском, посмотрим сможешь-ли понять". Not completely sure if it is correct, since "хочешь" in russian means "want", and not "can" or "may", but I'd guess it is close enough for government work.

Привет из Швейцарии!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hrelinho

Biggest problem is that in Croatia we don't use Cyrillic alphabet so i'm not able to read anything in it. Serbians still use Cyrillic alphabet so in that way it's much easier for them in that way. I used google translate, nice work you can get enough to understand meaning of sentence!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexKoso

and i hope too. I want to learn croatian from russian. I think that the best than learn croatian from eng becouse rus and croatian are similar. p.s. sorry for my english p.p.s. Pozdrav iz Rusije

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DerGoldmann
DerGoldmann
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I read this article a week or so ago. Hope it answers some of your questions! Can't vouch for its accuracy. http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/mutual-intelligibility-of-languages-in-the-slavic-family/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

English is so far apart from many other Germanic languages because it's insular and has strong Romantic and Hellenistic influences. However, I give you a rhyme, which, spelling aside, is shared between English and Frisian (a Germanic language):

"Good milk and good cheese make good English and good Fries."

(with "Fries" sounding like "frees," as in "Frisian")

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chooley.

frisian is the closest to english, it was said dutch (Frisian speaking dutch) fishermen commuicated in their native with english fishmen using their native but it's only got half a mill speakers :/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/856pm

True. I'd say Standard Dutch is a close second. Written, it's mildly intelligible. French is, too, because we stole so many words from them :-).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chooley.

I would say after dutch it would be things like swedish also indonesian is really easy in terms of grammar pronouncation and whatever else

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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I think that a slight problem with Dutch is that, though they are mildly intelligible, its spelling rules are too different to English ones, so maybe the words are pronounced the same and that way you could get the meaning, but as you don't know its pronunciation, you don't realize it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CecilieO.

A lot of it is about closeness, or when the languages diverged (and mutual influence after).

English diverged from the other garmanic languages a long time ago, so have less similarities thank german and danish have, that are relativly close. This has both to do with distance and sosipolitcal realities.

If you found a germanic language with the same "distance" between it and english, as spanish have with french, you would probably understand it in the same way...

Also, the ability to understand similar languages can be trained. If you have no experience in listening to differences in your own language, understanding others are more difficult. In general, understanding what others try to communicate is a trained skill.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcoSamue

Well, my native language is Slovak and I easily understand Czech, Polish and Croatian and if I focus, I can follow more eastern languages such as Russian.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eniblue

Yeah, but you have to focus and ask them to speak slowly too? :D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/riwnodennyk
riwnodennyk
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There are some numbers on the common vocabulary in relation to the Ukrainian language on the Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_language#Classification_and_relationship_to_other_languages

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xavierxox

Croatian is a really easy language. But without the Cirilic. There is also a plus side when learning croatian. Bosnian, Serbian and Montenegro languages are all the same... (+ croatian) So if you were to learn Croatian you would be able to speak Bosnian, Serbian and Montenegro. I should know. I'm a bosnian. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RogueTanuki

Really? I would think Croatian is one of the hardest languages, especially since it's similar to Slovak which was said to be one of the hardest if not the hardest language in the world.

Croatian nouns have 3 genders - masculine, feminine, and neutral, with quite a few words not belonging to the one you would think (for example, stol = table (masculine), igra = game (feminine)). Every noun can be declensed in seven cases: nominative (Apple is brown.), genitive (Cake made of an apple.), dative (I'm going towards an apple.), accusative (Do you see an apple?), vocative (Hey, apple!), locative (It's in an apple.), instrumental (I'm driving with an apple.) In Croatian, the word apple (and every other noun) changes it's endings depending on the case: apple: jabuka/jabuke/jabuci/jabuku/jabuko/jabuci/jabukom, NGDAVLI cases respectively (assibilation - k,g,h before i transform to c,z,s; appears only in some nouns) Declension is different for each gender and for some endings. Adjectives have endings which have to match the nouns. Verbs have aspects - perfective and imperfective. trčati/otrčati (to run/to finish running), popravljati/popraviti (to be in the process of repairing/to finish repairing) Verbs also have seven tenses - present (Vidim. = I see.), perfect (Vidio sam. = I have seen.), aorist (Vidjeh. = I hath seen., (historical, not really used)), imperfect (Viđah. = I was seeing.), pluperfect (Bio sam vidio. = I (masc.) have had seen.), first future (Vidjet ću = I will see.), second future (Budem vidio* = I (masc.) will see. (used if another future is used to indicate this will happen before that)) So, verbs have two aspects, seven tenses and, depending on the person (1st, 2nd, 3rd, sg., pl.), which there are six, one verb can have 2x7x6=84 different forms. (okay maybe not that much because some things do repeat, but I'm guessing 40 at least)

Also, I forgot the two conditionals. Vidio bih. and Bio bih vidio. (I would see./I would have seen.)

To the native speaker, Croatian may seem easy, but after studying it for years and knowing the grammar rules (for example, most news reporters and politicians say, e.g. On ne radi za nikoga. when the gramatically correct sentence, what few people know, would be On ne radi ni za koga.) I would have to say Croatian is quite hard and a challenge to learn.

However, Croatian can be quite melodic. I'm going to translate a poem by an awesome (IMHO) Croatian poet Antun Gustav Matoš:

JESENJE VEČE AUTUMN'S EVE

Olovne i teške snove snivaju

Leaden and heavy dreams are being dreamt

Oblaci nad tamnim gorskim stranama;

By coulds over dark mountainsides;

Monotone sjene rijekom plivaju,

Monotonous shadows swim through the river,

Žutom rijekom među golim granama.

Yellow river between bare branches.

Iza mokrih njiva magle skrivaju

Behind wet fields fogs are hiding

Kućice i toranj; sunce u ranama

Little houses and a tower; a sun full of wounds

Mre i motri kako mrke bivaju

Dies and watches how somber are

Vrbe, crneći se crnim vranama.

The willows, blackening with black crows.

Sve je mračno, hladno; u prvom sutonu

All is dark, cold; in the first sunset

Tek se slute ceste, dok ne utonu

Roads are barely discerned, until they sink

U daljine slijepe ljudskih nemira.

Into blind depths of human restlessness.

Samo gordi jablan lisjem suhijem

Only the proud poplar with its arid leaves

Šapće o životu mrakom gluhijem,

Whispers about life throughout the deaf darkness,

Kao da je samac usred svemira.

As if alone in the universe.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

I would say, those are common traits for most slavic languages, that includes Polish and Russian. Russian has "only" 6 official cases, which can easily turn into 11 or so, because there is a difference between cases for "alive" nouns and "non-alive" nouns, and some inoffical cases which are ubiquitous and de-facto correct. It has also has only three tenses (in two aspects), which makes things a little simpler. But its has different noun groups that behave differently with cases. In any case, if you want complicated languages, I wouldn't look at the slavic group, it is too easy. If you want a challenge, try Hungarian (agglomerative language with virtually infinite amount of word forms, does not share vocabulary with any known language), Finnish (24 or so cases, somewhat agglomerative, shares vocabulary only with estonian or so) or Diné, or Inuit dialects - all heavily agglomerative to the point where one word can be a whole sentence, up to 700 suffixes. 84 word forms? Pah :-P From what I've heard even about something "mundane" as Turkish, you can do quite a lot more than that.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xavierxox

Hahaha that's why slovene is the hardest.. it's super simular to croatian! we have 6 cases, Imenovalnik, Rodilnik, Tožilnik, Mestnik, Dajalnik and Orodnik. We have 3 genders. plus 1 more that is barely used... tista mačka (that cat-feminine), tisti moški(that man-masculine) tisto drevo (that tree-neuter) tiste škarje(those scizors - ??? )... we have the DUAL form which is used to describe the action of what only 2 people are doing.. Midva se imava rada (we love each other) this is only used for 2 people. Plus our pronunciation is really hard. on jé = he is on je = he eats láhko narejeno = easy done lahko to naredim = can i do it? ... trust me the end of the verbs also changes depending on the case. MOŠKI = man moškemu, moškega, moža... a lot more.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RogueTanuki

I think we have dual too. Also, wouldn't škarje (škare in Croatian) be pluralia tantum (like hlače - pants (no singular)). There are also group nouns - lišće, triješće, which aren't exactly plural. The leaf/leaves/a group of leaves = list/listovi/lišće

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xavierxox

Croatian doesn't have dual. I'm pretty sure of that because I go to the secondary school for tourism and catering. All I do is study languages and we had a giant discussion about the slovene language. It's a really rare language.. and night_raven26 slovenian and croatian may have many similarities but both have their own grammar.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MihajloGab

Yeah, Serbo-Croatian is a pain in the ass, but the grammar is the same across all of the languages!

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eniblue

That's not true. Croatian is pretty hard to learn. I agree with night_raven26 too. Grammar is pretty hard, but whoever wants to learn or have relatives here should be really nice from them to at least learn basics. Also, Bosnian, Serbian and Montengro countries all understand each other. Slovenian is a bit harder for me, but I believe that if you already speak Croatian (Serbian or Bosnian) you won't need long to learn slovenian too. That goes to Russian and even Ukranian. It same as Italian and Spanish. They can understand each other but barely. It's definitely easier for an Italian to learn Spanish or other way around. Even thought it can be confusing cause they are super similar.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/xavierxox

I speak had already learn Slovene and Bosnain while growing up... My mother is from Bosnia and my father is half Austrian and half Slovene... Slavic languages are a piece of cake for people who at least know 1 slavic language... I agree! for people who speak Spanish, French, English or any other non slavic language it's going to be hard to learn one.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/1025bees

Slavic languages are similar. However, I do not agree with the 'any' part. I speak Macedonian and can understand Serbian, Bulgarian, and others but I have more difficulty understanding Russian, Ukranian and others (one of the reasons is their alphabets having more letters).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maria307g

I'm Bulgarian and I find I can pretty much read stuff in Russian (I don't really understand every single word, but I can make pretty good sense of it), and I'd say I have decent listening comprehension of it, if it's spoken somewhat slowly. I also lived with a Russian girl once and she said she could make sense of what I was saying when I was on the phone with my parents, so I guess it goes both ways. I also went to Macedonia for a vacation a while back and literally spoke Bulgarian the whole time, while the locals spoke Macedonian, and we all understood each other perfectly. (Although, fun fact, though I'm not sure if it's actually a fact, but I was told so in Macedonia: apparently the phrase that means "I want to ask you" in Bulgarian is used to mean "I want to touch you" in Macedonian. So that might have been awkward.) I have also watched films in Serbian and had a pretty good grasp on what was going on. Polish and Czech though, other than catching the odd word, I have no idea what's going on there. Other languages I don't really have experience with, but I expect I'd be fine with Croatian and Slovenian, a little less fine with Ukranian, Belarussian, etc., and a lot less fine with Slovak.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HanMinhee

I'm not a speaker of any slavic language, but let me tell you my experience with learning Japanese. (which is said to be very similar to Korean, which is my native language) Koreans can't understand a single Japanese if they haven't learned it. However, when you start learning Japanese, you get to know that they are very similar in many aspectives. For example, the word for a "school" is "gak-kou" in Japanese, while it is "hak-gyo" in Korean. You will learn the word in a very short time, but can't guess its meaning unless you learn it. I presume that slovanic languages will be like this too. Well, just saying :) When I tried to learn Russian, it was very difficult for me because everything was so different from Korean or English, but wouldn't it be easier if you already learned some other slavic language?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ViArSkoldpaddor

It is not like that for slavic languages - they are really very, very close.

As to Korean and Japanese -- I was watching Anime with a Korean girl some years ago and she was very surprised that she actually could understand some of it. Before, neither of us knew Korean and Japanese were related, so we had to look that up ...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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Although they've said you it's not like this, I get what you say. In the German Duolingo lessons it happens quite a lot to me that I say "I don't know what this can mean", and when I discover it, I am like "hey, it's similar to English, why didn't I realize?"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eniblue

It's only cause English has a bit of every language. People say it should be under German languages, but that's not true. It's derived from a lot of languages. Therefore, you can't put it in any group.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohannesBe321028

I have never studied a Slavic language. However, I think the languages in this group are more difficult to learn for English speakers than the Romance languages. The Romance languages have many cognates from English but the Slavic languages don't share that same vocabulary

2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hijeroglif

I'm Croatian native speaker and we understand most of south Slavic languages, especially Bosnian or Serbian. I'd say that 90 % of words are the same (for instance - house - kuća, road-cesta, school-škola etc) BUT, most people don't understand people form Slovenia or Macedonia. That's also true for any other Slavic nation (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Russia...). So, learning Croatian won't contribute towards your understanding of Slovene or Russian :/

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MihajloGab

Well realistically, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian are pretty much the same. It is only the script and rare words that are different. This can easily be written off as dialects. But yeah, I understand most of Macedonian and Slovene, but the further I go, it's harder to understand. (I'm Serbian. Zdravo jugoslovenski druže!)

8 months ago