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Thread: Relationships between the Slavic languages

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    Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Hi! Can anyone please point me to information about how closely related the various Slavic languages are? I have read in a few places that the Eastern ones (Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian) are closely grouped, but I've also been told (by someone I trust) that this classification is worthless, that Russian is really very different from the other two, and ought by rights to be classified on its own. Is this true?

    How much of a help will learning Russian be to me if I decide, at some point, to study Slovak or Bulgarian? Will it help me to understand a TV broadcast in the Czech Republic?

    Also, if I delve into, for example, Old Russian, will it be like learning a completely new language? Or will it be like reading Italian for someone trained in French and Latin- a lot of it already comprehensible? (Leaving aside the question of different alphabets for the minute.)

    Кстати, я просто обожаю русский язык и я надеюсь продолжать его изучать на всю жизнь. Этот вопрос мне интересен, но я никогда не буду бросать обучения русского языка. I'm not learning it because it's "useful".

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Russian is really very different from the other two, and ought by rights to be classified on its own. Is this true?
    Languages are classified according to their grammars, not vocabularies. Russian is definitely an Eastern Slavic language, while vocabulary may differ since Russian borrowed many words. Belorussian and Ukrainian were languages of serfs until the XIX century. Therefore they're more archaic.

    How much of a help will learning Russian be to me if I decide, at some point, to study Slovak or Bulgarian?
    Yes, it'll surely help.

    Will it help me to understand a TV broadcast in the Czech Republic?
    I don't think a native Russian woulkd understand much, but with a year long practice, things would become much easier, as I was told.
    Please correct my English

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Thank you, Ленивец, for your enlightening answers!

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Go to this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages . It has a language tree that you should look at. At the bottom right of the tree are the slavic languages, and you will see that the East Slavic Languages branch out into Old Novgorod and Old East Slavic. No languages evolved from Old Novgorod but two branches evolved from Old East Slavic, Russian and Ruthenian. Then Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Rusyn evolved from the Ruthenian branch which may also be a reason Russian is a little different from the other Eastern Slavic languages. I don't know much on this matter so I don't know how true this is, but I will believe it until someone tells me otherwise.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Привет, SarochkaNZ. Когда я был аспирантом я слушал курсы по славянским языкам в т.ч. русский, болгарский, и польский. Надо было знать (если не свободно говорить) по одному языку из каждой ветви славянских языков. А также пришлось слушать курсы по старославянскому языку.

    Знание русского несомненно поможет вам с изучением других славянских языков. Может быть более или менее полезным. Например чешское предложение Strč prst skrz krk! В этом предложение есть одно слово общее с русским -- прст, которое мы знаем как пёрст. А другие слова — кто знает откуда они! А вы сразу поймете болгарские «добър ден» и «български език».

    The languages are so different that knowing Russian will only open the door for you to learn others. You will not understand spoken Czech or Bulgarian without further study. Bulgarian, btw, has probably more verb forms than English, and you know how Russians complain about our verbal system!

    Of all the languages, the closest pair is Serbian and Croatian, which are about as close as BrEnglish and AmEnglish. Once you know Russian, you will still have a lot of work to do to learn another Slavic language. (Belorussian is closest to Russian.)

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    AFAIK, Russian and Ukranian are very different, mutually unintelligible plus Ukranian has a different alphabet.
    Old Russian...all I've seen is the old church writings and it's very different from today's Russian, I couldn't make heads or tails of it.
    Кому - нары, кому - Канары.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    AFAIK, Russian and Ukranian are very different, mutually unintelligible plus Ukranian has a different alphabet.
    Just a few different letters.

    In fact ability to understand the second of related languages depends strongly on the level of knowledge of the first one. When you go from language to language some rare/archaic/specific words can become common and general. Some marginal meanings of known words can become mainstream. Some unusual grammar and syntax from several set phrases can become an ABC rule. So native Russian speaker usually can have an overall idea of what the Ukrainian speech is going about, while for the foreigner, speaking Russian more-or-less, it is not so simple.

    On the other hand there is a strong cumulative effect. For example knowing both Russian and Ukrainian will help you with Polish much more then knowing Russian only.

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Old Russian...all I've seen is the old church writings and it's very different from today's Russian, I couldn't make heads or tails of it.
    Old Church Slavonic is not really predecessor of Russian. Actually it is Old Bulgarian language. Christianity was brought to Rus from the Byzantium by ethnic Bulgarians.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    AFAIK, Russian and Ukranian are very different, mutually unintelligible plus Ukranian has a different alphabet.
    The alphabet is almost the same. To me, the languages are very close. I already wrote somewhere on this forum that I tried to listen to the Ukrainian radio and understood 60-70-80% of what was spoken...
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Спасибо всем за такие интересные ответы! Я сейчас понимаю, что это настоящий подвиг, когда кто-то говорит (например) по-русски и по-польски. Я надеюсь изучать ещё один славянский язык в недалёком будущем.

    Привет, Chaika! Ваш курс звучит замечательным. Был в США или в России? Можете ли Вы ещё читать по-болгарски? Этот язык почему-то мне крайне интересен.

    whipback, спасибо за ссылку! Я понимаю немножко яснее сейчас.

    sperk, Old Church Slavonic also seems impenetrable to me just now, but it looks glorious, doesn't it?

    it-ogo, thanks for your useful and learned comments. They're oddly encouraging. By the way, would it offend you if I corrected your post a little? There are just a few articles missing from an otherwise meticulous post. У Вас прекрасный английский. (In general, because I'm new to the forum, I don't know- is it safe to assume that everyone on this forum wants correction in any language that is not their native one?)

    Оля, that seems amazing to me! There is no language that a monoligual English speaker could comprehend to such an extent, I don't think.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by SarochkaNZ
    Спасибо всем за такие интересные ответы! Я сейчас понимаю, что это настоящий подвиг, когда кто-то говорит (например) по-русски и по-польски. Я надеюсь [s:3gjo2kht]изучать[/s:3gjo2kht] выучить (preferable) / изучить ещё один славянский язык в недалёком будущем.

    Привет, Chaika! [s:3gjo2kht]Ваш курс звучит замечательным[/s:3gjo2kht].
    The sentence needs to be completely reworded in Russian. I suppose what you meant was "Ваш рассказ о курсах очень интересен!", or if you want to stick with "to sound" - "Ваш рассказ о курсах звучит очень интересно!"

    Это было в США или в России? Можете ли Вы ещё читать по-болгарски? Этот язык почему-то мне крайне интересен.

    whipback, спасибо за ссылку! Я понимаю немножко [s:3gjo2kht]яснее[/s:3gjo2kht] лучше сейчас.
    By the way, would it offend you if I corrected your post a little?
    No one here would be offended by that. Quite the opposite, that's what we all Russians here dream of and crave for, but English native speakers always remain too lazy to correct our mistakes.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo

    In fact, the ability to understand the second of related languages depends strongly on the level of knowledge of the first one. When you go from language to language, some rare/archaic/specific (specialist?) words can become common and generally-used. Some marginal meanings of known (or familiar) words can become mainstream. Some unusual grammar and syntax from several set phrases can become an ABC rule. So a native Russian speaker can usually (word order) have an overall idea of what (-) Ukrainian speech is about, while for the foreigner, speaking Russian more or less, it is not so simple. (This is absolutely fine, but I would say say "... but for the foreigner who speaks Russian to a lesser degree, it is not so simple.)

    On the other hand, there is a strong cumulative effect. For example, knowing both Russian and Ukrainian will help you with Polish much more thаn knowing only Russian.

    Quote Originally Posted by sperk
    Old Russian...all I've seen is the old church writings and it's very different from today's Russian, I couldn't make heads or tails of it.
    Old Church Slavonic is not really the predecessor of Russian. It is actually Old Bulgarian. Christianity was brought to Rus from Byzantium (no article with most place names) by ethnic Bulgarians.
    Sorry about my clumsy attempts to use the forum software to edit this. I'll get the hang of it, я обещаю.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Оля, спасибо от всей души за исправления. Я очень благодарна.

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    No one here would be offended by that. Quite the opposite, that's what we all Russians here dream of and crave for, but English native speakers always remain too lazy to correct our mistakes.
    Извините, mea culpa! Но отныне я буду строго изправлять ошибки. Вот:

    No one here would be offended by that. Quite the opposite, that's what all we Russians here dream of and crave for, but native Englishspeakers always remain too lazy to correct our mistakes. (Just a couple of word order mistakes)

    I'm not being fulsome in my praise, but perhaps native English speakers are too intimidated by the high standard of English of many Russian-speakers on these forums to dare offer corrections. It feels somewhat cheeky! But, of course, there's gotta be some quid pro quo.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by SarochkaNZ
    Но отныне я буду строго исправлять ошибки.
    Thanks for the corrections.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Have you ever heard of a Swadesh list? It compares the most important vocabulary among languages of the same family. You will see how close they are.

    http://learningrussian.net/vocabulary/r ... guages.php
    ~ Мастерадминов Мастерадмин Мастерадминович ~

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by SarochkaNZ
    In general, because I'm new to the forum, I don't know- is it safe to assume that everyone on this forum wants correction in any language that is not their native one?)
    It is safe to assume but needs much patience to perform.

    Quote Originally Posted by SarochkaNZ
    Sorry about my clumsy attempts to use the forum software to edit this. I'll get the hang of it, я обещаю.
    Thank you!

    Here is a tag you can find useful: {s} {/s} (in square brackets). It is used to cancel phrases [s:jc9xm1qa]like this[/s:jc9xm1qa].
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    dream of and crave _, but
    crave is transitive.

    I learned Russian in the US, starting in my fourth year of high school. Simultaneously attended 4th year Spanish and 1st year Russian (well, not exactly "simultaneously" but you catch my drift I hope). My Spanish teacher remarked on how my accent had gone to the dogs once I started Russian.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    This theme is rather frequently discussed on this forum. So I'll just repost a couple of my posts here (I'm sorry for being too lazy to write a new one ) :

    http://masterrussian.net/mforum/view...19441&start=60

    Quote Originally Posted by basil77
    I'll try to explain my hearing of Slavic languages. Belorussian and Ukrainian are easy to understand for Russian ear. Frankly speaking these are just dialects of Russian artificially transformed into separate languages. Native Russian speaker can easily communicate with people, who speak these languages, even if they are don't speak Russian at all (that's almost impossible). Polish are MUCH harder to understand, but when hearing it, I can still understand the meaning of separate words and even phrases. Funny, but when being in Poland, I wasn't able to read street signs (almost at all), but being later in Czech Republic I could read many of street signs in Czech, but almost couldn't understand a word in Czech language. Serbian are also almost impossible to understand for my ear, althogh I didn't hear Serbian in real life, only on TV and so.
    http://masterrussian.net/mforum/view...p?f=32&t=19919

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Ukrainian is almost not understandable to Russians, is it?
    Quote Originally Posted by basil77
    I wouldn't say so. It's hard to understand when it's spoken too fast as many Ukrainians speak. When I came to Ukraine (to Ukrainian speaking region) for the first time I had to ask almost everyone to repeat that they said and had a very embarassing feeling like I'm deaf or something. But when they repeated a phrase slowly (in Ukrainian of course) I started to understand almost everything. And now after ten years I visit Ukraine regulary, since I married Ukrainian girl, I can perfectly understad Ukrainian, I watch Ukrainian TV and understand everything without any troubles. I can even speak Ukrainian now but Ukrainians say I have a terrible Russian (they call it "Moskalsky" actually) accent.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Masterrussian (Господин Русский? ), огромное спасибо за ссылку! "Swadesh list" совсем новое мне. Интересно! Я читала с удовольствием. Я должна сказать, что русская письменность - самая красивая. Может, это из-за того, что только русский из славянских языков мне (немножко) знаком, но мне кажется странно и даже неприятно увидеть славянские слова на латинском алфавите.

    it-ogo, спасибо! [s:1btc24qv]Вот моя новая игрушка.[/s:1btc24qv] By the way, it's better to say, "Here is a tag you may find useful."

    Chaika, thanks for your answer! How fortunate you were to have the option of Russian at high school (it has much more cachet than the standard French / German / Spanish choice)! I'm trying to learn Italian (well, dabbling very lazily in it) and can't seem to stop making all the vowels soft now that I'm surrounded by glorious Russian vowels. It's a real problem. By the way, we can say "to crave for something," at least in New Zealand. Maybe Оля was simply speaking excellent New Zealand English.

    Finally, Basil77, спасибо за ваш интересный ответ! Я его исправлю немного отдельно.

    Кстати, как будет "That's fascinating" на русском? Для меня, это скучно всегда писать "интересно." Варианты есть?

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by SarochkaNZ
    "Swadesh list" - это что-то совсем новое [s:2wikpakw]мне[/s:2wikpakw] для меня. Интересно! Я читала с удовольствием. Я должна сказать, что русская письменность - самая красивая. Может, это из-за того, что только русский из славянских языков мне (немножко) знаком, но мне кажется странным и даже неприятным [s:2wikpakw]у[/s:2wikpakw]видеть славянские слова, [s:2wikpakw]на латинском алфавите[/s:2wikpakw] написанные латиницей (or латинскими буквами).

    Finally, Basil77, спасибо за ваш интересный ответ! Я его исправлю немного [s:2wikpakw]отдельно[/s:2wikpakw] в отдельном посте.

    Кстати, как будет "That's fascinating" на русском? [s:2wikpakw]Для меня_(no comma) это[/s:2wikpakw] Мне скучно всегда писать "интересно". Варианты есть?
    Есть, но сильно зависят от контекста.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: Relationships between the Slavic languages

    Quote Originally Posted by Basil77
    I'll try to explain [s:36u3adnj]my hearing of Slavic languages[/s:36u3adnj] how Slavic languages sound to me. Belorussian and Ukrainian are easy [s:36u3adnj]to understand for Russian ear[/s:36u3adnj] for the Russian ear to understand. Frankly speaking, these are just dialects of Russian artificially transformed into separate languages. Any native Russian speaker can easily communicate with people _ who speak these languages, even if they [s:36u3adnj]are[/s:36u3adnj] don't speak Russian at all (that's almost impossible). Polish [s:36u3adnj]are[/s:36u3adnj] is MUCH harder to understand, but when hearing it, I can still understand the meaning of separate words and even phrases. Funny, but when [s:36u3adnj]being[/s:36u3adnj] I was in Poland, I wasn't able to read street signs (almost at all) (not wrong, but I'd rewrite this as "I was hardly able to read street signs at all"), but [s:36u3adnj]being[/s:36u3adnj] when I was later in the Czech Republic I could read many of the street signs in Czech, but [s:36u3adnj]almost couldn't understand a word in Czech language[/s:36u3adnj] could understand barely / hardly a single word of Czech OR of the Czech language.

    Serbian [s:36u3adnj]are[/s:36u3adnj]is also almost impossible [s:36u3adnj]to understand for my ear[/s:36u3adnj] (word order: for my ear to understand / to pick up), although I didn't hear Serbian in real life, only on TV [s:36u3adnj]and so[/s:36u3adnj]. (We only use "and so on" after a list of at least two items, I think.)

    --

    I wouldn't say so. It's hard to understand when it's spoken too fast, as many Ukrainians speak. When I [s:36u3adnj]came[/s:36u3adnj] went (unless you were in Ukraine when you wrote this post) to Ukraine (to a Ukrainian speaking region) for the first time, I had to ask almost everyone to repeat that they said and had a very embarrassing feeling like I'm deaf or something (not wrong, but I'd write "and I felt very embarrassed / uncomfortable, as though I were deaf or something." But your "like" is deliciously colloquial. ).
    But when they repeated a phrase slowly (in Ukrainian of course), I started to understand almost everything. And now after ten years I visit Ukraine regulary, since I married to a Ukrainian girl, I can perfectly understand Ukrainian, I watch Ukrainian TV and understand everything without any troubles. I can even speak Ukrainian now, but Ukrainians say I have a terrible Russian (they call it "Moskalsky" actually) accent.
    Hope that helps!

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