Slovenian & Czech
Hello, I know there have been a few posts comparing Czech to other Slavic languages, so I hope this isn't a repeat. I have heard that Czech/Slovak and Slovene are pretty similar, even though Slovene is a South Slavic language and Czech is a West Slavic language. Can anyone tell me if this is true? Thanks in advance!
This is far from scientific, but let's see how the famous prayer goes in the major West Slavics (Czech, Slovak, and Polish) and in three South Slavics (Slovene, Croatian, and Bulgarian):
Otče náš, jenž jsi na nebesích, posvěť se jméno tvé. Přijď království tvé. Buď vůle tvá jako v nebi, tak i na zemi. Chléb náš vezdejší dej nám dnes. A odpusť nám naše viny, jako i my odpouštíme našim viníkům. A neuveď nás v pokušení, ale zbav nás od zlého.
Otče náš, ktorý si na nebesiach, posväť sa meno tvoje, príď kráľovstvo tvoje, buď vôľa tvoja ako v nebi, tak i na zemi. Chlieb náš každodenný daj nám dnes a odpusť nám naše viny, ako i my odpúšťame svojim vinníkom, a neuveď nás do pokušenia, ale zbav nás Zlého.
Ojcze nasz, któryś jest w niebie święć się imię Twoje przyjdź królestwo Twoje bądź wola Twoja jako w niebie tak i na ziemi chleba naszego powszedniego daj nam dzisiaj i odpuść nam nasze winy, jako i my odpuszczamy naszym winowajcom i nie wódź nas na pokuszenie ale nas zbaw od złego.
Oče naš, ki si v nebesih, posvečeno bodi tvoje ime, pridi k nam tvoje kraljestvo, zgodi se tvoja volja kakor v nebesih tako na zemlji. Daj nam danes naš vsakdanji kruh in odpusti nam naše dolge, kakor tudi mi odpuščamo svojim dolžnikom, in ne vpelji nas v skušnjavo, temveč reši nas hudega.
Oče naš, koji jesi na nebesima, sveti se ime Tvoje, dođi kraljevstvo Tvoje, budi volja Tvoja, kako na nebu, tako i na zemlji. Kruh naš svagdanji daj nam danas, i otpusti nam duge naše, kako i mi otpuštamo dužnicima našim, i ne uvedi nas u napast, nego izbavi nas od Zloga!
Отче наш, Който си на небесата! Да се свети Твоето име, да дойде Твоето Царство, да бъде Твоята воля, както на небето, тъй и на земята; Насъщния ни хляб дай ни днес, и прости нам дълговете ни, както и ние прощаваме на нашите длъжници, и не въведи нас в изкушение, но избави ни от лукавия.
I've been studying Czech for about 4 years now but also took a semester in Slovenian (so my knowledge in the latter is not great...). If we're trying to find the most similar major Slavic languages to Czech/Slovak and Slovenian, it's going to be Polish for the first pair and Croatian for Slovenian. This makes sense since Czech/Slovak and Polish make up the West branch while Slovenian and Croatian are part of the South branch. I read a study a while back that talked about mutual intelegibility between all the major Slavic languages and that's when I found that Slovenian is the most similar south Slavic language to the West Branch (including Polish) and that mutual intelegibility between Slovenian and Czech (I don't remember the percentage for Slovak) is around 18%. I was pleasantly surprised but soon realized this number is extremely low. I cannot follow a conversation in Slovenian, I can only pick up a few words but I'm not the best example since I'm very far from a proficient Czech speaker. I can in return give another example: a Slovenian classmate of mine was taking Czech with me when I first started. I didn't have a lot of trouble when I started and neither did she but she had the major advantage of being a native speaker of another Slavic language and I never felt he was doing much better than I and neither did she. She was not making such a big effort but neither was I since I never took it very serioulsy and always saw it as a hobby. I really want to learn this language but I'm not in a hurry if that makes sense. I hope this helps somehow but to make a final point, though Slovenian is the most similar south Slavic language to both Czech and Slovak we can't really say they are pretty similar at all.
[...] though Slovenian is the most similar south Slavic language to both Czech and Slovak [...]
The thing is that not even that is necessarily true in practice. The "Mutual intelligibility between West and South Slavic languages" study linked elsewhere in this discussion (maybe it even is what you read?) suggests that Slovene speakers might have a slight advantage over Croatian and Bulgarian speakers in understanding the major West Slavics, but the West Slavic speakers tended to understand Slovene less than Croatian or even Bulgarian. (I suspect this asymmetry might be coming from the diverse dialect situation in Slovene. Those Slovene speakers whose regional dialects are linguistically closer to the West Slavics than to standard Croatian may have done better, but standard Slovene was the language on which the West Slavic speakers were tested, so no benefit there.)
Yes, I looked at it more carefully after posting this and found that Czech/Slovak speakers seem to have an easier time understanding Croatian than Slovenian so I'm sorry for not looking at it better and thank you for correcting me.
They are not mutually understandable but we are able to understand many words when speaking slowly or reading. But many words can be misleading, "otrok" means "a child" in Slovenian and "a slave" in Czech, for example.
In terms of grammar Slovenian has some very special features. It has retained the dual number which all other Slavic languages lost in the Middle ages.
Those special cases kept their dual form in Czech entirely.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/oko#Czech (click Declension there)
Probably yes, I will just insist that not as a grammatical category "dual number" but as some dual form. At least not in the most recent https://www.czechency.org/slovnik/%C4%8C%C3%8DSLO which has:
Po zániku duálu jako kategorie se do nč. zachovaly některé pův. duálové koncovky, ale už ve funkci/významu pl.: ruce, oči, uši, dva, dvě, oba, obě; rukou, nohou, prsou, ramenou, kolenou, uší, očí, dvou, obou; rukama, nohama, očima, ušima, dvěma, oběma; např. Zdvihl obě ruce nad hlavu; Má za ušima; Zůstal klečet na kolenou.
quoting the wikipedia page: "The plural of definition 1 takes the dual form."
That is the point. You use a different plural (and decline each of them differently) for each of the meanings.
Oči will be used even if we talk about many eyes (Chirurg operoval už 500 očí.) . Oka will be used about two holes in a stocking, or two oily rings on a soup.
The Czech wikipedia page also mentions the dual being used as plural in non-standard Czech. That is an interesting thing I didn't know about. However, it is true only about some regions. s těma kamarádama. saň se třema hlavama. A Prague native will say this. A Brno native will be disgusted (and sometimes loud about it) :-)
Czech and Slovak are mutually understandable with a bit of exposure completely. You could say majority of the natives of both the languages has passive C2 and active 0 in the other language.
Polish is less understandable but still a lot. You won't get much of a nuance, there are false friends, but you can still communicate rather well while using various western slavic languages.
Croatian and Slovenian are harder for a Czech native like me, even though not much harder to understand than for example Polish, if you get exposed to them enough. I don't, that's why I find them a bit harder but I am sure I could still get buy (with a lot of patience. Both mine and the natives'). People going to Croatia every summer understand quite well and even the Croats often seem to prefer them speaking Czech than English. Slovenian can be understood similarly too (friends visited Slovenia recently and loved the country! I must visit too, the photos and videos were breathtaking!) and they understood quite well too. But among the young people, it is often just easier for both sides to speak English, than to bother sorting out the similarities and differences.
In general, I find it weird that a lot of people choose a slavic language by "with which one can I understand the others the best?". I am not saying that is your intention, no offence meant, it is just a general observation. Just learn one you are interested in and eventually a second one, which will be easier after the first one. The slavic speaking countries and languages are not the same thing with just a few tiny differences and various flags.
"In general, I find it weird that a lot of people choose a slavic language by "with which one can I understand the others the best?"
Well for "westerners" it is still quite unusual to learn other slavic languages then russian. - And when you take the effort to learn a "smaller" language then this "versality" to understand some/more/less of the other slavic languages is a big plus. If I would live overseas I would definatly consider this as a criteria in the decision of learning a language I might have never or rare contact in my real life.
I picked czech because I only about 100km from the border and there are enough occasions in my everyday life to speak it.
I am surprised anyone chooses to learn a language like Czech in the first place :-D Were it not my native language, I certainly wouldn't bother.
Well, the "westerners" should stop thinking Central Europe is not a part of the west and talk about it that way, and that learning it is basically a favour to the natives. It is not. Just like when people learn a language like Dutch, you should either learn it for the culture and country, or not bother. People don't learn Dutch or Danish to better understand other germanic languages either.
If I would live overseas, I would still choose by the characteristics of the one language and its culture, even though getting in contact with it would be harder. Why? Because my skills in the related languages would not be that stellar anyways, without studying those languages too. That certainly doesn't mean I would necessarily choose Czech.
Really, it is not as logical as it looks at first sight. The bonus of understanding the related languages comes later, when you are at least intermediate in the first slavic language you are learning. So, I think many people have unrealistic expectations from their studies, as few get to a good enough level for this.
No offense taken. It always seems like people enjoy comparing/contrasting the Slavic countries. In the end, we're all similar but all different too. Like any group of people. My question really stemmed from the fact that my family has both Slovenian and Polish in it (among others) and I really love the Slavic languages and cultures.
It is true. Czech & Polish are West. Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian are South. Russian, BeloRus, Ukrainian are East.
I have found that Czech and Slovene are really similar to my primary secondary Serb-Croat. I am not familiar with Slovak at all though.
Hi, i would say agree with that general statement that "slovinsky" is not "pretty similar" but yes, more similar to slovak and czech then the other south-slavic languages, for me spoken slovenian a little better to understand then Croat, and people that speak slovenian can understand czech/slovak also better then Croats or Serbs.