https://www.duolingo.com/betarage

Czech and Slovak

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Are Czech and Slovak mutually intelligible like some other languages if i learn Czech will i be able to understand Slovak too or will i need to learn it separately in the distant future.

1/23/2019, 5:43:02 PM

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/PotatoSanta
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For me after completing the Czech tree I found that I could understand almost as much Slovak as I could Czech and was sometimes unsure which language I was learning.

1/23/2019, 6:34:41 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
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That is good to know, but we would have to know what is your actual level of understanding measured objectively by some test.

1/23/2019, 7:43:49 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/PotatoSanta
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I am definitely still at the basic level with Czech, I rushed through the tree not long ago as sort of an experiment to see how well that would work and was still impressed by the amount I could understand by the end.

1/23/2019, 9:14:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
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I think understanding is always easier. When I joined Duolingo I got the 7th level in Russian without ever learning it. And translations from Russian are almost always for free (at the Duolingo level or simple news, not Puškin!). Writing in Russian though, that is really a different matter.

1/23/2019, 11:10:08 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kamariastudies

I am a native Czech speaker and I understand everything in Slovak, they have some (vocabulary) differences, but it is ALMOST the same, in my opinion.

1/23/2019, 6:16:42 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
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Sorry, but that is REALLY confusing for foreigners. The languages are more different than most Czechs and Slovaks think, because they are frequently hearing the other language and learned the differences. They learned that as children but they HAD TO learn it.

I have already commented a lot in this direction in:

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/14803061/How-mutually-intelligible-is-Czech-and-Slovak

and

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/13760793/Using-the-Czech-course-for-Slovak

I do NOT recommend anyone to learn Czech with the intention to understand Slovak. That is not going to work well. Just learn Slovak. Some Czech children do have serious problems understanding Slovak these days because there is less exposition to the Slovak language and good understanding is simply not automatic, only a basic one

1/23/2019, 7:40:46 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeWortin

I can confirm that too

1/23/2019, 6:44:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
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There is some scientific research done on this subject, like https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14790718.2017.1350185# which lists very high scores (Slightly better for Slovak understanding Czech than the opposite). The next closest one is Polish. Please understand that this score includes the fact that the test subjects were native speakers of one of the languages and like had been exposed to the other language for the most of their life. You can't expect such high scores for learners of Czech or Slovak as a foreign language.

In practice I speak with Slovak at work every day and there is never any confusion. But the words they use are sometimes quite different, but we are used to them.

This popular article is written for foreigners specifically https://news.expats.cz/czech-language/speak-czech-speak-slovak/ It is probably mostly right, but be careful, it claims "you may use your Czech skills and will likely be understood" but my feeling is the understanding in the other way might be considerably more difficult. The article also lists some similar expressions but also some false friends.

1/23/2019, 7:50:53 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mereade
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Learn the one you want to know.

I am not only a native Czech exposed to Slovak, but I also know a lot of Czech as a second language speakers, who are exposed to Slovak and need to adapt. It sometimes look a little bit unfair that they spend a lot of time on Czech, start their university classes, and suddenly one third of their classmates and some of the teachers speak Slovak to them instead. :-D

With some exposure, a native or an advance foreign speaker of one of the two can understand the other perfectly or near perfectly.

Without the exposure, it is harder and the communication won't be that smooth.

A beginner or intermediate learner is not likely to understand the other language that much. At that stage, it is absolutely normal to struggle even the less standard and more regional version of one language, let alone with a different language.

And Czech and Slovak are different languages, the differences are not only in a bit of vocabulary, otherwise they'd be one language afterall. (and let's not forget that both the langauges also have various regional variants. People on both sides of the Czech-Slovak borders are likely to have no problem understing each other without much experience. A Prague inhabitant and a eastern slovak are much more likely to struggle at first).

Just learn the one you want more. If you want to understand the other, I recommend learning the first one to a solid level and then using media in the other to get the passive understanding of it.

1/24/2019, 6:26:59 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/svrsheque

this native experience i have no quibbles with.

1/24/2019, 7:15:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirokha

That very much depends on what your mother tongue is. I am a native Russian speaker and, after having learned Czech - boom! - I started comprehending Slovak, Polish and Ukrainian easily.

1/23/2019, 8:49:45 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SimonGej

I am native Czech speaker. They have some different words but you would still understand.

1/24/2019, 4:29:01 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/DeniseSchl5

I would agree that if you want to know Slovak, you should study that language. However, if you travel you will feel somewhat comfortable going from Czech to Slovak. There are some differences which can be greater or lesser depending on your location. In my case the closer to the Polish/Czech border I am the more Polish I understand.

1/26/2019, 9:28:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/mizail
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Hi. I am a native Ukrainian and Russian speaker.

For the last eight months I've been spending in Czech and Slovakia from one to three weeks every month. Mostly in Czech. So, I've been forced to chat with native speakers. At the beginnig, Czech and Slovak sounded the same for me, because I could not understand anything. :)

But somwhen in six months I noticed, that Slovak pronunciation is much closer and easy to understand for me. About similarity. Yep, these two languages are very close to each other. But each of them has few regional "versions" of pronunciations and vocabulary otherness.

So, when I am visiting west Czech (Prague) and east Slovakia (Košice) I notice, that vocabulery and pronunciation are very (sometimes absolutely) different. So, IMO, you will need time to catch Slovak language.

As Czechs told me, nowadays, children from Czech and Slovakia understand each other with difficulty, after Czech and Slovakia became two different countries 25 years ago. But people aged 30 and older perfectly understand one another.

1/27/2019, 4:22:02 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/svrsheque

you will see a range of views. i would take the experiences of czech or slovak native speakers with more than a grain of salt. more non-native opinions (which i am advocating are the ones to sift through) are available in this older thread.

as a czech course contributor, i would say that if your aim is to learn slovak and that is the only reason to consider czech, just learn slovak.

1/24/2019, 1:29:50 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Tom_V.
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There is only one way to use Czech for Slovak language. The long-term stay in Czechia. Because lots and lots Slovaks live and work here (univerzity, hospital, everywhere) and each of them speaks ONLY Slovak - they can speak Czech very well, but they don't - because 98% native Czechs understand them. :-)

1/29/2019, 7:31:28 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/VladaFu
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Not each of them though. Slovaks of Hungarian ethnicity often speak Czech, because neither Slovak or Czech are their native languages. They often speak Slovak and Czech fluently without any accent though and they easily switch to Slovak when speaking with another Slovak in Czechia.

1/29/2019, 9:39:17 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Tom_V.
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Sure, not everyone. But most of them. I know slovaks who live 10-20 years in Czechia, but they normally don't speak Czech. Sometimes it is funny when(if) they speak with my kids, who understand badly. :-)

2/1/2019, 6:07:53 AM
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