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Thread: Maybe this is why everyone thinks Russian is so difficult...

  1. #1
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    Maybe this is why everyone thinks Russian is so difficult...

    A friend of mine explained his brief flirtation with learning Russian a few years ago. It went like this:


    :pens new Russian book::

    Welcome to Beginner's Russian 101

    Section 1 - Greetings:

    Hello: Zdrastvooeetye

    ::closes new Russian book and goes back to learning French::


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    If you don't have any wish, interest or reason to do something just don't start!

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    And if you have started, I don't envy you! (Eng. speaker studiing Russian - that nust be a terrible selftorture) Now I'm studiing Finnish... all those cases, endings - very hard!

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    This is what greeted me when I opened up "Russian for Beginners" for the first time 4 years ago: Здравствуйте! With no English transliteration, I was pronouncing it incorrectly for quite some time...

    Finnish!??!?!? I've heard not even foreign experts in the language know it completely. Can't you compress a whole phrase into one word?

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    al
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    Don't know about Finnish, but here is an example of a very long word in Hungarian (which belongs to the Finno-Ugric family, as Finnish does):

    [quote]
    We create "new" words by adding some of them also (compounds), just like "public transport" = "t
    Хорошо не просто там где нас нет, а там где нас никогда и не было.

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    And who was the fellow who kept gobbing off about how Hungarian was so great because it always had the stress on the first syllable?

    It reminds me of Donaudampfschiffsfahrtskapitanswitwe(and so on)... Ah, that's a great word to use when you're playing German Hangman with those not familiar with it Or "katarralische entzundung"...

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    That's just stupid. I believe that every language can do this. E.g. in Dutch:
    Hottentottententententoonstellingsterreinskaartjes verkopersvrouwenvakbond...
    Trade Union for the wives of ticketsellers for exhibitions of hottentot tents...
    Army Anti-Strapjes
    Nay, mats jar tripes
    Jasper is my Tartan
    I am a trans-Jert spy
    Jerpty Samaritans
    Pijams are tyrants
    Jana Sperm Tit Arsy

  8. #8
    Mihkkal
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    In fenno-ugric languages, you can describe long actions like

    "valastallegoahttebehtet" in Saami (I think that's correct) which would mean "you two start doing sports". I'm not good in Saami, so I don't know how to put this in tenses, and can't think of longer words to combine (but the exist). You can also add "a little" and such.

    And contrary to "hottentott" etcetera, words like the above are actually usable. Though of course, when words get ridiculously long because of fancy grammars, you'd use more easy ways of saying the same thing.

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    And who was the fellow who kept gobbing off about how Hungarian was so great because it always had the stress on the first syllable?
    I think that's Czech.
    А если отнять еще одну?

  10. #10
    Mihkkal
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    I dunno about Checkz (or however it's written), but as far as I know all Uralic tongues - including Hungaryan - have the pressure on the first syllable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joysof
    And who was the fellow who kept gobbing off about how Hungarian was so great because it always had the stress on the first syllable?
    I think that's Czech.
    Quote Originally Posted by anymouse
    In some ways though, a person can learn to live without it. I just listen to Russian radio/t.v. to learn proper pronunciation, etc. It's a little like all my Hebrew texts; they just ignore the stress marks and have good jokes at one's personal expense. All languages should follow the Hungarians, who for the most part, have the stress on the first syllable. So much easier to remember.
    Aha! So it was Anymouse! Blast you!

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    scary languages

    Just looking at written Welsh gives me a headache. The only letters they seem to use are l,w,v,f,y,n,r. Seems like they should have developed another alphabet for it, as they did for Russian. (Written polish looks so strange to me, Slavic words in roman alphabet!)

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    al
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    Re: scary languages

    Quote Originally Posted by begemot
    Just looking at written Welsh gives me a headache. The only letters they seem to use are l,w,v,f,y,n,r. Seems like they should have developed another alphabet for it, as they did for Russian. (Written polish looks so strange to me, Slavic words in roman alphabet!)
    Written Polish is awesome, it is one of the reasons I like this language BTW, it is not the only Slavic language that uses Latin alphabet. Czech, Slovak, and Serbo-Croatian when it is written by Croats use it too.

    What about Welsh - well, at least it is Indo-European
    Хорошо не просто там где нас нет, а там где нас никогда и не было.

  14. #14
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    I don't think that one European language is fundamentally more difficult than another. I spent some time learning a bit of Hungarian last year, before I went there on holiday. At first I thought it wouldn't be too hard, because of the stress lying on the first syllable, but that was before I found out about all the suffices (-ban, -ben for "in", etc.) and how they depend on the vowels used in the word....It's the same now with Russian: it has its advantages (no articles, no literal translation of "to be") but its downsides too (six cases, no rules for where the stress lies on a word).

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    I have to argue that - Spanish is much easier to learn (at least for a native English-speaker) than Russian. That is why they have tests to determine a person's ability to learn languages, and the higher you score the more complicated language you are taught. Here's how the American Department of Defense categorizes the languages:

    - 85 for a Category I language (Dutch, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish)
    - 90 for a Category II language (German)
    - 95 for a Category III language (Belorussian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Slovak, Tagalog [Filipino], Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese)
    - 100 for a Category IV language (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean)

    I understand that these aren't all Indo-European, but they are ranked based on difficulty.
    Yay! I broke 200 posts!

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    Quote Originally Posted by emka71aln
    I understand that these aren't all Indo-European, but they are ranked based on difficulty.
    ...from the point of view of an English-speaker. For a Russian, Ukrainian (and even Hebrew, IMO) is much easier than, say, German
    Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I

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    Well, it is a test in English, so they assume that it's your native language.
    Let's all become Circumcellions.

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    My point wasn't that those are the easiest/hardest languages for anyone, it was just that some languages are easier to learn than others. I'm sure that learning Spanish would be harder for a native Russian speaker than for a native English speaker (if all other things are equal). But like you said, some languages are easier to pick up based on how you naturally speak and think.
    Yay! I broke 200 posts!

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    On the subject of long compound words English can do this to a certain extent:

    pseudoantidisestablishmentarianists

    or translated into understanable English

    Those in false opposition to the removal of the Church of England as the state religion of the UK. Of course nobody ever says that and it is one of only a few words with more than two prefixes.
    Эдмунд Ричардович Вудфилд

  20. #20
    al
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    Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia - Fear of long words.
    Хорошо не просто там где нас нет, а там где нас никогда и не было.

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