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Balto-Slavonic Profile

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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5701 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 1 of 35
11 April 2011 at 6:00pm | IP Logged 
INTRODUCTION
The Balto-Slavonic languages are part of the Indo-European family of languages with the group's languages frequently thought of or analyzed under subgroups called “Baltic” (Latvian, Lithuanian, Old Prussian etc.) and “Slavonic” (Bulgarian, Polish, Russian etc.). Approximately 275 million people are native speakers of a Balto-Slavonic language with the traditional homeland being in Eastern Europe but since the 16th century has stretched through central and northeastern Asia as a result of Russian expansion into Siberia. Russian comprises the most native speakers at approximately 145 million and has prestige in being one of the official languages of the UN and the lingua franca in the former USSR despite the territory's division into nationally-delineated successor states (e.g. Moldova, Ukraine) or maintenance of semi-autonomous jurisdictions that vaguely align to territories traditionally associated with indigenous people (e.g. Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Tuva Republic).

The primary attraction of the Balto-Slavonic languages for many potential learners is their association with a lesser-known part of Europe (i.e. Europe seems more often associated in popular imagination with its western part). The frequently-occurring idea of Balto-Slavonic languages’ intractability seems to have arisen from the impressions of people speaking only Germanic and/or Romance languages. These people understandably considered languages that diverged noticeably from their own as difficult and this perception seems to have been reinforced occasionally by native speakers of Balto-Slavonic languages who appear to take pride in the “specialness” of their native tongue thanks to its apparent intractability for foreigners. Regardless of the hyperbole, studying a Balto-Slavonic language can represent a credible but rewarding challenge for people considering learning a “different” language. Almost all of the Balto-Slavonic languages are national languages and most are at least moderately supported by learning material thus making exposure/immersion via travel and independent learning respectively feasible endeavours.

As with any other language, the associated culture of the respective Balto-Slavonic speech communities can be sufficient encouragement for someone to study a Balto-Slavonic language. The modern culture of most Balts and Slavs is broadly “Western” in being informed to a significant degree by Christianity and social or artistic movements experienced throughout Europe. However much is sometimes made of a cultural division between “East” and “West” among Balts and Slavs by considering spheres of traditional religious influence with the “East” being Orthodox Christian (e.g. Bulgarians, Russians) or Islamic (Bosnians and Goranci) and the “West” being Catholic (e.g. Poles, Slovenes) or Protestant (e.g. Latvians, Lower Sorbs)

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES
Balto-Slavonic languages are most likely to be encountered natively when travelling to Eastern Europe and Russia.

COUNTRIES
Belorussia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine. Slavonic languages can also be found natively as official languages in non-Slavonic nation-states (e.g. Russian in Kazakhstan), minority languages (e.g. Rusyn in Slovakia; Sorbian in Germany) or official regional languages (e.g. Russian in Moldova). The diaspora of Balto-Slavonic native speakers is found mainly in Eurasia (e.g. at least 500,000 members of the Polish diaspora in Britain and Ireland), Australia (especially in diaspora of Croats, Macedonians and Serbs) and the Americas (e.g. 400,000 Ukrainians in Brazil).

SPEAKERS
Approximately 275 million native speakers.

CHARACTERISTICS/FEATURES OF INTEREST TO THE POTENTIAL LEARNER IN SELECTED BALTO-SLAVONIC STANDARD LANGUAGES

BALTIC
a) LATVIAN
- main stress is very often fixed on the first syllable
- no vowel reduction
- pitch-accent (many descriptions refer to it as "tone")
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 5 moods
- 6 tenses
- 5 to 7 noun cases depending on how one counts them
- definiteness expressed by context, ending of adjectives (if present), certain demonstratives or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- limited mutual intelligibility with Lithuanian, next-to-none with Slavonic languages.
- moderately-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

b) LITHUANIAN
- mobile stress
- no vowel reduction (although pronunciation of unstressed diphthongs differs somewhat from those bearing stress)
- pitch-accent
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 3 moods
- 4 tenses
- 7 to 10 noun cases depending on how one counts them
- definiteness expressed by context, ending of adjectives (if present), certain demonstratives or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- limited mutual intelligibility with Latvian, next-to-none with Slavonic languages
- moderately-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English


SLAVONIC
a) BELARUSIAN (BELORUSSIAN)
- mobile stress
- strong vowel reduction but is marked to a certain extent in spelling
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences.
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 4 moods
- 5 tenses (2 are rarely used)
- 6 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Russian and Ukrainian
- modified Cyrillic alphabet
- not well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

b) BOSNIAN/CROATIAN/MONTENEGRIN/SERBIAN (SERBO-CROATIAN)
- mobile stress with condition that stress cannot fall on the last syllable
- no vowel reduction
- pitch-accent
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 4 moods
- 7 tenses
- 6 or 7 noun cases depending on how one counts them
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own do not distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- Croatian variant uses only modified Latin alphabet. All other variants use both modified Cyrillic and Latin alphabets (although Bosnian is rarely expressed in modified Cyrillic nowadays despite the official acceptance of both alphabets)
- some mutual intelligibility with Bulgarian, Macedonian and Slovenian
- moderately supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

c) BULGARIAN
- mobile stress
- moderate vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short
- no nasal vowels
- relatively inflexible word order and tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- generally fusional but noticeably analytic in declension because of loss of cases
- singular and plural
- 5 moods
- 10 tenses (in indicative mood only – the number of tenses can rise to 40 when accounting for both aspects and all moods)
- 1 or 2 noun cases (depending on how one counts them while certain pronouns have 3 cases)
- definiteness expressed with suffixes/postponed definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own do not distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Cyrillic alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Macedonian, less with BCMS/Serbo-Croatian
- moderately supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

d) CZECH
- main stress is fixed on the first syllable
- no vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 3 moods
- 3 tenses
- 7 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Slovak, less with Polish
- well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

e) MACEDONIAN
- main stress is fixed on the third-last syllable
- no vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short
- no nasal vowels
- relatively inflexible word order and tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- generally fusional but noticeably analytic in declension because of loss of cases
- singular and plural
- at least 5 moods (depends on how one counts them)
- at least 8 tenses (depending on how one counts them and the number of tenses rises when accounting for both aspects and all moods)
- 1 to 3 noun cases (depending on how one counts them)
- definiteness expressed with suffixes/postponed definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own do not distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Cyrillic alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Bulgarian, less with BCMS/Serbo-Croatian
- not well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

f) POLISH
- main stress is fixed on the second-last syllable
- no vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short
- 2 nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward (S)VO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 3 moods
- 3 tenses
- 7 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction but polite form governs third person singular/plural rather than second person plural
- modified Latin alphabet
- some mutual intelligibility with Czech and Slovak
- well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

g) RUSSIAN
- mobile stress
- strong vowel reduction but not marked in spelling
- no pitch-accent
- unstressed vowels are short but stressed vowels are slightly longer
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences.
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 4 moods
- 3 tenses
- 6 to 8 noun cases depending on how one counts them
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Belorussian but somewhat less with Ukrainian
- modified Cyrillic alphabet
- very well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

h) SLOVAK
- main stress is fixed on the first syllable
- no vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 3 moods
- 4 tenses (1 is rarely used)
- 6 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own do not distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- high mutual intelligibility with Czech, less with Polish, somewhat less with BCMS/SC and Slovenian
- moderately-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

i) SLOVENIAN
- mobile stress
- moderate vowel reduction
- pitch-accent in one of the two standard variants
- vowels are short or long
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences
- strongly fusional typology
- singular, dual and plural
- 3 moods
- 4 tenses
- 6 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own do not distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- modified Latin alphabet
- some mutual intelligibility with BCMS/Serbo-Croatian, less with Slovak
- not well-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

j) UKRAINIAN
- mobile stress
- moderate vowel reduction
- no pitch-accent
- vowels are short
- no nasal vowels
- relatively flexible word order but tendency toward SVO in declarative sentences.
- strongly fusional typology
- singular and plural
- 3 moods
- 4 tenses (1 is rarely used)
- 7 noun cases
- definiteness expressed by context, certain demonstrative pronouns or word order instead of definite articles
- verbs of motion on their own distinguish between motion by vehicle and that on foot
- two-tiered T-V distinction
- substantial mutual intelligibility with Belorussian but somewhat less with Russian
- modified Cyrillic alphabet
- moderately-supported by learning materials published for speakers of English

BOOKS OF INTEREST ON BALTIC OR SLAVONIC LANGUAGES IN GENERAL
- De Bray, R.G.A. Guide to the Slavonic Languages. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1951. (Dated but not obsolete. It combines less technical descriptions of individual languages with comments on similarities of a language’s features with those of others in the family. It’s probably the best resource of its type for a student of a Slavonic language who is more interested in a selective approach to comparing Slavonic languages.)
- Carlton, Terence R. Introduction to the Phonological History of the Slavic Languages. Columbus: Slavica Publishers Inc., 1991 (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparing the sound systems of modern Slavonic languages and the sound changes that took place to generate the modern phonemic inventories)
- Comrie, Bernard and Corbett, Greville G. (eds.). The Slavonic Languages. London, New York: Routledge, 1993 (Somewhat technical and not focused on comparison but it's the current standard descriptive manual of the Slavonic languages)
- Dahl, Östen and Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria. (eds.). The Circum-Baltic Languages: Typology and Contact. (Vols. 1 & 2). Amsterdam: John Benjamins B.V., 2002. (Collection of essays and analyses focused on languages spoken along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Relevant chapters explore certain aspects of or analyze Latvian and Lithuanian yet also examine all languages as forming a Sprachbund (an area of languages belonging to distinct subgroups of a language family or different families altogether that exhibit similarities brought on by contact between them).)
- Endzelīns, Jānis, Schmalstieg, William R. and Jēgers, Benjamin̦š. Comparative Phonology and Morphology of the Baltic Languages. The Hague: Mouton & Co. N.V., Publishers, 1971 (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparative linguistics involving Baltic languages with some attention to parallels in Slavonic languages)
- Sussex, Roland and Cubberley, Paul. The Slavic Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparative linguistics involving all Slavonic languages, notwithstanding some irritating typing errors in the examples for Polish and Slovak)
- Townsend, Charles E. and Janda, Laura A. Common and Comparative Slavic: Phonology and Inflection with Special Attention to Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian. Columbus: Slavica Publishers Inc., 1996. (A technically-oriented manual that may be attractive to the linguist or serious learner who is interested in comparative linguistics focused on five relatively “popular” Slavonic languages. This book is a somewhat less dense counterpart to Sussex and Cubberley’s book)

LINKS

DISCUSSIONS ABOUT BALTO-SLAVONIC LANGUAGES AT HTLAL
The age old question – Polish or Russian?
Best order to learn the slavic languages
BCMS profile (former Croatian profile)
Bulgarian and Russian
Czech and Russian
Czech and Slovak
Czech Profile
Czech through Russian
Difficulty of Slavic languages
“Easy” Slavic Language?
Help me choose a language
Is Polish really that hard?
Is Ukrainian easier than Russian?
Latvian or Lithuanian?
Latvian vs. Lithuanian
Learn ‘Slovio’ first as help to Russian?
Learning sequence - Czech, Polish, Hungarian
Lithuanian anyone?
Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian
Macedonian Language
Mutual Intelligibility in Slavic Language
Polish or Russian?
Polish Profile
Russian and Polish
Russian and Serbian grammar question
Russian and the other Slavic languages
Russian Language Profile
Slavic Language Family Learning Sequence
Slovak Profile
Slovenian profile
Three questions about Slavic languages
Ukrainian profile (now 90% less politics)
What is the Easiest Slavic Language?
Which one first?

Non-technical comparison of selected vocabulary and grammatical features in BCMS/SC, Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian and Ukrainian as posted in the log “Chung at work / Chung pri práci”.
Selected vocabulary from “Oxford Take Off in Russian”
Selected vocabulary from “New Penguin Russian Course”
Cognates of derivatives of PIE *méntis “thought”
Selected grammatical features from “New Penguin Russian Course”

AUDIO SAMPLES OF BALTO-SLAVONIC LANGUAGES AT RHINOSPIKE.COM
BCMS/SC (Croatian)
BCMS/SC (Serbian)
Bulgarian
Czech
Polish
Russian
Slovak
Slovenian
Ukrainian

AUDIO SAMPLES OF BALTO-SLAVONIC LANGUAGES AT YOUTUBE.COM
BCMS/SC (Montenegrin) (basic lesson on Montenegrin despite original poster’s comment that it’s applicable for Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian)
Belorussian (Part 1 out of 6 from documentary “A Lesson of Belarusian”)
Latvian (Playlist of 10 videos about Latvian and Latvia including 4 short videos with lessons or basic phrases in Latvian)
Lithuanian (channel for short video course in Lithuanian)
Macedonian (interview with the American Slavicist, Victor Friedman about Macedonian and reaction to this language from Bulgarians and Greeks)

COMMENTS FROM FORUM-MEMBERS WHO HAVE “BEEN THERE” WITH AT LEAST TWO BALTO-SLAVONIC LANGUAGES

BALTO-SLAVONIC (i.e. crossing between Baltic and Slavonic) OR INTRA-BALTIC

aru-aru wrote:
[...] Many Russians find Latvian not so very easy. And I'm talking here about those Russians who have been living among Latvians for years. Pronunciation is an issue. Long/short vowels, older generation struggles with "ie" sound. The "balts suns" (a white dog)/"baltais suns" (the white dog) difference is hard for some to grasp in more complicated situations, for Russian does not have this distinction. I have seen many graduates from Russian language schools (as in, they learn all the subjects in Russian, and have Latvian as a separate subject), they speak fluently, but still with an obvious accent and often with mistakes here or there, very noticeable in writing. These students, let me add, have lived all of their lives in Latvia. (I have friends from these schools though, enough of them, who speak really really well, and write so good as to have almost zero mistakes in a 60-page thesis, I am not trying to say here anything bad about people, just stating a general trend)

Vocabulary, yes, is often kind of similar, but I would say not necessarily very transparent. Like, our word "zvans" (a bell) comes from Russian, but Russian word for "bell" is "kolokol" ("zvonok" for a very small one). "Zvon" is Russian for the actual sound a bell makes. When I speak Latvian, my Russian friends from Russia can't even guess what I'm talking about.

So, some general grammar things are the same, word order is extremely similar, a word here or there. Phonetics are very different, though. Like no help there. Form the sounds that can be difficult for an English speaker, there are very few in common in both languages. Ģ, Ķ, DZ - Russian does not have, Ļ, Ņ, C (ts) - both have, but the tricky Russian sounds like soft "S", "T", "R", or any other soft consonant, and weird vowels "ы" and "э" - Latvian will be no help for that. Latvian would be a very unuseful stepping stone for Russian.

[...]

...for someone, who wants to learn one language of each subgroup, studying in Latvia is a great option, because in Riga Russian and Latvian are spoken like in 40% / 60%, and that's much more Russian than you'll ever hear in Vilnius.[...]


Chung wrote:
Most Balto-Slavonic languages have sufficient material to make independent learning a feasible proposition. Barring motivation for cultural, intimate or professional reasons, it’s then most likely that the choice for a Slavonic language will depend primarily on availability of resources and linguistic features that will likely cause the least frustration for the learner. Russian is a popular choice for many foreigners as the first Balto-Slavonic language despite its linguistic quirks because of its high-profile and large body of resources and authentic material. Czech and Polish may however be “sleeper picks” and it may surprise outsiders how well supported these latter languages are. As regards the Baltic languages, neither Latvian or Lithuanian are very popular among foreigners but they are somewhat better supported when it comes to learning materials for English-speakers in comparison to a few Slavonic languages such as Slovenian or Sorbian.

When it comes to my experience in studying Baltic languages, Latvian seems to be somewhat easier to grasp than Lithuanian partially because its inflections are not quite as elaborate as those in Lithuanian, and it normally places stress on the first syllable rather than letting it be mobile as in Lithuanian.

Even though most linguists classify Baltic and Slavonic languages together as a clade called “Balto-Slavonic” (including the reconstructed Proto-Balto-Slavonic) within Indo-European, the similarities supporting this unit are not very apparent to the non-specialist and a few linguists have actually concluded that these similarities arose from contact between the speech communities rather than from a source in an ancestral Proto-Balto-Slavonic tongue. There are a few similarities today between Baltic and some Slavonic languages that may be useful to a learner who will "cross over" from Baltic to Slavonic or vice-versa.

1) Verbs of motion in Baltic languages can distinguish between motion on foot and that by vehicle as they do in some Slavonic languages.

2) A negated direct object in Lithuanian or a negated complement in Latvian can take on the genitive just as is the case in some Slavonic languages.

3) Adjectives by virtue of their endings can indicate definiteness in Baltic languages just as they do under certain conditions in BCMS/Serbo-Croatian.

4) There are approximately 100 word-roots found in both Baltic and Slavonic languages that are striking because they are not attested in other Indo-European languages or have undergone the same semantic development from a postulated antecedent in Proto-Indo-European.


Dragomanno wrote:
Belonging Serbo-Croatian and Lithuanian to two different branches of the Indoeuropean family, they are absolutely not mutually intellegible. I started studying Lithuanian one year after picking up Serbo-Croatian, and it soon seemed to me it was a completely different world.
There are but many similarities among their grammars (not talking about words like "knygas" or "soboras", that Lithuanian has borrowed from its Slavic neighbours), and they can help to a certain extent. If you are a linguist, you will have fun dwelling upon it...as I do. But if you are just up to learn Lithuanian, the knowledge of any Slavic language won't help you that much.
This if of course my personal opinion. I would be glad to hear back from anybody else who is engaged in the studies of these challenging languages..


michal wrote:
Hello all,

A couple of weeks ago Chung asked me to describe some of my experience learning Latvian with a Slavonic background. I will first try to describe what I remember of my learning experience:

My background at the time I started learning Latvian was this:
It was back in the eighties, I had already learned some German, Russian and English (in this chronological order) by that time. All of these were at a usable intermediate level. My first language is Czech.

I bought a Soviet style textbook on a trip to Latvia and learned mostly from that, later I also found an old Teach Yourself book in a second-hand bookstore in Prague. This was the first time I learned a language mostly on my own. I learned enough to get by comfortably during a later trip to Latvia (still in the eighties). I am not learning the language actively now but I made a trip to Latvia a few years ago and revised my Latvian using the Colloquial book before that.

This is how my previous language background was relevant to learning Latvian:

1. Spelling, pronunciation: Here I was extremely lucky to have grown up speaking Czech. Modern Latvian orthography is a twentieth century creation based to a large extent on the model of Czech. That did not harm. What helped even more is that both Czech and Latvian are languages with fairly regular fixed stress on the first syllable and have syllable length independent of stress (all four combinations of long-short and stress-unstressed occur). This means that English spoken with a heavy Czech accent sounds rather bizarre, but Latvian spoken with a Czech accent sounds tolerable.

2. Grammar: Latvian is a language with a lot of inflections measured by the standards of major western European languages. Verbs get conjugated, nouns, adjectives and pronouns get declined. Having grown up speaking a language where this is also the case and having learned German and Russian before Latvian definitely helped. The endings were mostly new but I had already internalized the concept of noun cases, which made learning the grammar much easier. My non-Slavonic languages helped where Latvian grammar diverged from the familiar Slavonic patterns, in particular with the concept of expressing definiteness in adjective endings.

3. Vocabulary: Here i did not get too much out of speaking a couple of Slavonic languages. A few dozen words are shared between Slavonic and Latvian, mostly in the area of elementary vocabulary: head, hand, to carry, etc. This is something interesting to observe but does not make too much of a difference when you need to learn a few thousand words to be able to use the language.

So far my testimony, here is a tentative attempt at a summary and conclusions:

The one area where speaking a Slavonic language gave me a considerable advantage was grammar, where a lot of the work boiled down to learning new endings for familiar grammatical categories. The head start I had with pronunciation had more to do with speaking specifically Czech, most other Slavonic languages have rather different phonetic patterns. The vocabulary I got for free was negligible - years later when I learned French I was pleasantly surprised at how much vocabulary I could recycle from English, whereas in Latvian I had to learn the vocabulary mostly the hard way without any shortcuts.

Back to grammar: learning Latvian grammar with a Slavonic background is probably easier than doing so without this background, all other things being equal. Anyone who knows a richly inflected non-Slavic language will benefit in a similar way. A German who has studied Latin to some depth will probably learn Latvian grammar even more easily that a Czech who has only learned English as a foreign language and is not actively aware of the grammatical categories of his own language.

I understand Chung hesitated between separate Baltic and Slavic profiles and a joint one. I definitely respect his decision to go for a joint one, although the proximity of the two groups should not be overestimated. I have no problem with Balto-Slavic as a linguistic concept and I guess I can testify that Latvian is indeed closer to Slavonic languages that to Germanic, Romance or Greek. However, for practical learning purposes, when you learn a Baltic language, you will not get much more from knowing Slavonic languages then you would from knowing Latin.

[...]

That is it, I hope this is useful.

Michal


INTRA-SLAVONIC

Ardaschir/ProfArguelles wrote:
[...] As has been noted before, the best entry to the Slavic languages should be any language, however small and insignificant, to which you have personal ties or special opportunities to study, etc. However, what is the best course for an ideal someone who wants to learn the whole family from scratch?

First of all, what is the whole family? The “grandmother” is “Old Bulgarian” or “Old Church Slavonic” and it is divided into three geographic sub-families. East is Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian, West is Polish, Czech, Slovak, and Sorbian, while South is Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bosnian, and Bulgarian, and there are undoubtedly others that I have forgotten sitting here writing from memory. Some of these have tens of millions of speakers, others only a few; some have long-standing literary traditions, others have really only come into being since c. 1990. The literary factor is more important to me than the spoken factor, and thus as far as I am concerned (apart from Old Church Slavonic) the main languages are six: Russian, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Slovenian, and Bulgarian. Of these, Slovenian is so small (something like a million speakers) that there are few learning resources, and these are of poor quality. What about the other five?

I believe there are three learning strategies for getting at them:

1) “Conservative” = learn Russian first. Russian is unquestionably the largest and most important by any standards. No one will regret having begun with Russian and gotten no further, whereas someone who starts with Macedonian or Slovak and gets no further will probably regret this decision somewhere down the line. Presuming you do continue with the project, after Russian it would probably be best to alternate Western and Southern languages.

2) “Grammatical”: If you know that grammar is your weak point, then you should being with Bulgarian, for this is unquestionably the most “simplified” language of the family. From Bulgarian, you should proceed to one Eastern (Russian) and then one Western (Czech/Polish) before returning to another Southern language, then the other Western.

3) “Lexical”: If you know that vocabulary is your weak point, then you should begin with a Western language (either Polish or Czech) as these have the most Latin/ French/ German (and therefore English) words, and then Russian and then a Southern language before returning to the other Western and concluding with the other Southern.

I myself started with Russian. I cannot calculate the hours exactly, but I shadowed Assimil's older Russisch ohne Muehe for years, wrote out the entire text numerous times, and did grammatical exercises from an old Hugo's course and several others, then read bilingual texts and some children's texts before spending a month immersed in it, living with a family in St. Petersburg and taking private tutorials for about 6 hours each day.

When I was able to read Russian literature with ease and pleasure, I began with Polish, then moved through Serbocroatian, Czech, and Bulgarian. I've never yet stood the test of speaking any of these, but I believe I built a solid foundation in all of them. Knowing Russian as well as I did, they was indeed a great amount of knowledge to transfer, and they were all largely transparent when I began with them. By the time I got to Bulgarian, I didn't feel as if I was really learning anything new anymore, but rather only practicing variations on a theme. This may be because of the above mentioned grammatical simplicity of the language, but I think it was rather due to overall familiarity with the family.

I would recommend this sequence or one of the other two to others, even if you are more interested in learning the purely "conversational" languages in addition to the literary five. These five have the most abundant learning materials, and after you know them, you should not need much assistance to get at the others.

Those with scholarly philological interest should of course also study Old Church Slavonic at some point early in the process. However, this is not really the direct ancestor of them all, but rather only the earliest attested form of the language that we have, so knowledge of it is not as indispensable as knowledge of Latin for the Romance family.

[Ed.: Prof. Arguelles' comments are from the opening post in the discussion “Slavic Language Family Learning Sequence”]


Chung wrote:
Of the Slavonic languages that I studied/have been studying, I find Slovak to be the least difficult and BCMS/SC, Slovenian and Ukrainian tied as the most difficult. Czech and Polish fall somewhere between these extremes. The similarities between various Slavonic languages can be very obvious and learning one Slavonic language will noticeably simplify the task of reaching basic command in the other. Collaborative profiles for various Slavonic languages in addition to discussions on HTLAL deal with this topic in greater detail.

These are the top 3 reasons why I find Slovak to be the easiest Slavonic language to learn:
1) Stress is fixed and there’s no vowel reduction (like Czech and Polish but unlike Russian and Ukrainian) and no pitch-accent (unlike BCMS/SC and Slovenian)

2) Inflection is somewhat more regular or has been “levelled” more than in other Slavonic languages (e.g. Czech, Polish or Ukrainian)

3) It does not make as many morphological distinctions for tenses as in Southern Slavonic languages (i.e. nowhere near the complexity of BCMS/SC with its 7 tenses, to say nothing of Bulgarian’s 10 tenses in indicative mood alone)

From the point of view of Slavonic languages that I’ve studied, here are some tips as they relate to learning a second Slavonic language.

1) If you know Polish, get used to the stress in Czech and Slovak being on the first syllable rather than the second-last one. I’ve caught myself several times speaking Czech or Slovak with Polish stress placement.

2) If you know only a Slavonic language that has fixed stress, get used to the frustration of learning to deal with Slavonic languages that have mobile stress. Mastering the imperative in Ukrainian is a case in point since constructing the Ukrainian imperative depends on the stress placement of a given verb’s conjugation in present tense and the stress' position varies here by definition.

3) If you know BCMS/SC or Ukrainian, get used to the fact that certain final consonants lose their voicing in other Slavonic languages. In other words, final b, d, g in print are pronounced more like p, t, k while final v in print is pronounced more like f (in Czech, Polish and Russian) or w (in Slovak and Slovenian).

4) If you know BCMS/SC, Slovak or Slovenian, get used to verbs of motion making more distinctions in Belorussian, Czech, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian.

5) If you know BCMS/SC, Czech or Slovenian, get used to the fact that accusative plural endings for masculine animate nouns in Polish, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian are the same as their masculine genitive plural endings. In other words BCMS/SC, Czech and Slovenian do not follow the pattern in those latter 4 languages.


hauteville wrote:
Hello!

I think I should introduce myself first. My name is Karol and I'm from Poland. I've been reading this forum for a few years and I've found many interesting things on the topic of language learning. There are so many great people here and I want to thank all of you for lots of interesting content. Now is the time when I would like to add some commentary which (I hope so) could be useful for learners or people who are generally interested in Slavic languages.

RUSSIAN
When I was 20, I began to study Russian at my University. It's quite common in Poland to think that the main difficulty of Russian is Cyrillic script. Actually, the script is not a big problem. If someone works hard, it can be learned in 2 or 3 days. Of course, you can meet people who study Serbian (which also uses Cyrillic script) and can't read Cyrillic fonts fluently, but it's only because of their laziness; not because of the so-called "difficulty" of the alphabet.

The main problem that Polish people have with Russian is definitely the pronounciation. Russian is very melodic language, the main stress may fall on any syllable, which is difficult to master for Polish speakers as our language has fixed stress. Apart from that there are sounds that are difficult for Polish speakers: л (Polish people tend to mispronounce it like "ł/l"), сь (mispronounced like "ś"), ть (mispronounced like "ć"), дь ("dź") and ч ("ć"). But I think that's all what is really difficult for us. Russian grammar is very similar to ours and much more regular than, for example, Czech one. An average student of Russian language in Poland can speak it with basic fluency after 3 years at university.

UKRAINIAN/BELARUSSIAN
I've spent a few months in Ukraine, so I've picked up some Ukrainian. It's my favourite Slavic language (It sounds like Russian, but is much harder. I've always liked to compare Russian with German and Ukrainian with Dutch), but I've never had an opportunity to learn it well. When I was in Ukraine, I lived in the area of Luhansk where Russian is the dominant language. When I came home I tried to learn it several times by myself, but I've never been able to study more than 4 languages at the same time, so I had to put it off. But still I can read books or magazines in Ukrainian without any problems, I can understand Ukrainian pretty well, thanks to its similarity to Polish and Russian. The only problem is, that my spoken Ukrainian is strongly corrupted with Russian words.

The same thing I can say about Belarussian. It is so similar to Russian and Polish (even more than Ukrainian) that I can understand it (at least written language) quite well. But I've never learnt it in a systematical way and I don't claim to speak it at all.

The difficulty of Ukrainian and Belarussian is the same as of Russian. There are some details that can be harder, like pronounciation of Ukrainian "г", but still they are quite easy languages to learn for Polish speakers.

BOSNIAN/CROATIAN/SERBIAN
Right now I'm a student of Serbo-Croatian Philology and I learn the ekavian standard of BCS, mainly known as Serbian (But it's worth to know that Serbian from Bosnia is jekavian). BCS isn't as melodic as Eastern Slavic languages and it is really hard to find any sound that could be difficult to pronounce for Polish speakers. The vocabulary is also quite similar to ours (if you know Russian you get even bigger bonus). But the grammar isn't as easy as in the case of Russian. There are 7 tenses which can be quite surprising for people who only studied Eastern or Western Slavic languages before. Some of these tenses aren't used often in everyday communication, but it doesn't mean that you don't have to know them. In fact they are quite common in literature and some dialects.

There are also some traits in Serbian which are typical for Balkan languages like disappearance of the infinitive form of the verb and less complicated case system (mainly in Torlak dialects). Croatian, on the other hand, doesn't have Balkan features, but its vocabulary is "true Slavic", there are much less international borrowings and therefore it is much harder to learn, even for Polish people.


Kisfroccs wrote:
[...]I've been both in Poland and Croatia/Serbia/Bosnia/Macedonia within a year's time.

In Poland I learned quite rapidly basic sentence, but without explanations of what this and that meant, I got nowhere. I was there 10 days, in a polish family, whose father also french spoke. But I was a lot out in town, where all was in Polish.

Listening : okay, but I learned not so much
Reading : oh oh, that was a pain in the ass :)

In Serbia, I had the impression it was easier. In Niš, I tried to read a newspaper and understood about what it was, without prior knowledge of the language. In Bosnia, a lady at the gas station asked me if I had coins : she asked me in Serbocroatian, never studied it, but I understood it completely. I she did not make any gesture to indicate what she wanted. It was really strange.

And I think Hungarian helped me too : as there are certainly slavonic loan words in Hungarian, when I was in Montenegro, I saw the sign Soba, which, I guess is the same meaning as szoba. I never checked :).

Before I went to these countries, I never studied any of these languages. I studied Russian for 6 month, with a theater teacher who happened to speak Russian as she lived in former URSS. She helped to put a concept "slavonic language" in my mind, and how they worked. Actually, I've forgot almost all about Russian. When I was in Poland, I had the impression from the spoken language, that Polish was a mix of Russian and Portuguese. I hardly understood something, though.

In Croatia it was something which I would qualify as odd, as I understood what they wanted to say, or what they were saying.

Anyway, I noted the amount of French and German in the Russian, the familiarity between Russian, Polish and Croatian, and the slavonic loan word in Hungarian and it is really interesting to see - evolving in one's time of studying languages - how languages are linked.

Hungarian structure is similar to German. I learn it from German, not from French, because it's too far away. Whether I learn Croatian from French....

I've noted (and I'm surely not the only one) that in every language, the negation as something to do with an "n". Nein, non, nem, nie, ne, 'niet', no etc. :)

So, I think this is all I can say to this subject, surely things that have been already said.


maxval wrote:
I have studied seriously Bulgarian and Russian. And I also had some kind of studies of Church Slavonic, BCMS and Slovenian.

My suggestions are:
1. Your first Slavonic language should be one with a Cyrillic alphabet. Choose BCMS, Bulgarian or Russian!
2. From a practical viewpoint the best option is Russian.
3. Gramatically Bulgarian (and of course Macedonian, which is de facto the same) is the most distant from all other Slavonic languages: presence of articles, almost no noun conjugation, complex system of verb conjugation, so it is a very atypical Slavonic language.
4. Lexically Bulgarian would be a very good choice, since it has the most common words with other Slavonic languages. Also, many Slavonic languages were influenced by Church Slavonic which is originated in the Old Bulgarian language.

Studying Bulgarian from Russian viewpoint, potential problems:
1. Learning the use of the articles.
2. Learning pronunciation, specially the lesser degree of palatalization and the lack of palatalization before “e” and “i” vowels.
3. Learning to use the complex verb system, specially the verb tenses.

Studying Russian from Bulgarian viewpoint, potential problems:
1. Learning the difference between use of endings expressing “static situation” and “movement”.
2. Learning use of Accusative in nouns.
3. Learning correct use of noun cases, specially with prepositions.


msherl wrote:
I have studied both Russian and Serbo-Croat (though not to a fluent level) and can give you my opinion on the matter. I find Russian, undoubtedly, the most difficult of the two to learn, though not by a large amount. The reasons are both lexical and grammatical. Lexically, I find it harder to memorise Russian words (though I'm not quite sure why this is). Grammatically, Russian has a much more intricate set of verbs to describe motion and the gentive case is much more difficult in the plural.
However, syntactically, Serbo-Croat is certainly more difficult as there are a set of rules to determine the order of words known as "enclitics" which appear in the language frequently. In practise though you should soon get used to what "feels" right.
I'll try and post more on the matter when I have more time.

[Ed.: msherl's comments are from post no. 22 in the discussion “Slavic Language Family Learning Sequence”]


prz_ wrote:
As a native speaker of Polish i can put my oar in to discussion. My first Slavic language which I've started to learn (except some abortive attempts with Slovenian and Croatian) has been Bulgarian. It's relatively easy language (especially for Slavs), because, except quite indigent vocative, it has no cases. The only problem for me are articles, which use sometimes seems to be harder than these in English. Very soon I've started learning the second Slavic language - Macedonian. And, even with the existence of three definite articles pertaining to position of the object and constructions like Јас го видов човекот ("I have seen him, the man") appears to be even easier than Bulgarian. But I warn you - if you don't have to, don't learn them twice at the same time - after almost monthly visit in Macedonia I speak something which i can describe "Bulgedonian". Let's hope it will pass soon :)

During this holiday I've started with two another Slavic languages: Ukrainian and Slovak. And here another tip - if you are tame with languages with declensions, don't start your adventure with Slavic languages with neither Bulgarian nor Macedonian... because it bludges. Well, but to brass tacks. Ukrainian is probably the easiest language for someone who's native language is Polish. With a little grammar explanation and dictionary you can simply start reading news or even books written in relatively easy language. Plus, there is no special difference between written and read words, like it is sometimes in Russian. With Slovak is a bit harder (though only a bit), but luckily I have found an amazing book called "Krížom krážom", which is one of the best language books for beginners I've ever seen.

If you'd like to ask me about the first slavic language, I would definitely say: RUSSIAN (even if I don't like such domination of one language). Knowing Russian you can count on a great number of sources for other Slavic languages, and, especially, languages of Caucasus and Central Asia. But I recommend you all of the Slavic languages - it's a great pleasure to learn them. My wish is to know every of them at least at A2 level, will this work out? We'll see.


ruskivyetr wrote:
Studying Polish with previous knowledge in Russian:

I began with Russian, and I really delved into it by learning most of the cases and many prepositions in about a month. I continued to build on my vocabulary and speaking ability with much enthusiasm, until my gusto slowly decrescendo'd into a passive learning that I am now trying to work up to the lion it was before.

However, before I burned-out, I reached at least a lower B1 level in Russian. I no longer have that "B1" proficiency in production, but can understand spoken and most written Russian with B1 proficiency. I decided to begin with Polish for a variety of reasons. It is spoken by much of my extended family, and I have many relatives still in Poland. Including family, about every other friend I have is Polish, and I often find myself in Polish speaking situations. When I began Polish, I already had an idea of how similar it is to Russian, but I was confused when I saw more similarities than expected.

When learning Polish from a Russian base, you have a lot already covered regarding pronouns and possessive adjectives. In addition, there are also similarities with case formation, and strikingly similar features regarding case usage (in my opinion they are practically identical, but I'm going to leave that to someone more qualified to say so :). A lot of prepositions are similar, as are their meanings/usages, although one does see variation in that regard.

With regards to pronunciation, I don't really know how much my Russian "helped". I think it was actually somewhat of a detriment, seeing as how Russian has very reduced vowels, whereas Polish does not. Polish was actually easier in regards to orthography, and it was fun seeing the Latin alphabet version of a word that is practically the same between the two...which brings me to my next point:

Vocabulary!

Polish and Russian obviously share a lot of vocabulary, and in my opinion it's quite a lot seeing as how Russian is Eastern Slavic and Polish is Western. There are some false friends (i.e. words that are identical but mean completely different things in each language). Just don't speak a sloppy mixture of the two and you shouldn't have a problem :).

Well that's my two cents. I hope that someone finds this information useful in making a decision between the two languages, or if they want to learn Polish with a Russian base :). Feel free to PM me if you have any questions!

Ruskivyetr

P.S. I just wanted to add that it is also possible to have "conversations" with other Slavic language speakers if you know a little of a few Slavic languages. For example, I can have conversations with my Czech friend (I have at one point dabbled in Czech) and my Polish friends by infusing Polish/Russian (into the Czech) or Czech/Russian (into the Polish). It provides for some confusion, and of course you will revert to using much of your strongest language (mine being Russian), however it's still a lot of fun and we still manage to get our points across. Granted Polish and Czech are closely related, so it may not work with "further" languages like Bulgarian, Croatian, or Slovenian.


Theodisce wrote:
[...] As a person with some experience in Czech and Slovak I'd like to share my thoughts. Having read a lot of medieval and early modern Polish texts I had easier access to Czech and Slovak, I guess, than most of my fellow countrymen, as they tend to preserve some archaic vocabulary not used in modern Polish.

I believe Slovak is more similar to Polish than Czech is. I started my journey with Slovak and Slovak Radio was my main resource as I believe in the importance of input and prefer audio materials. It wasn't difficult to begin to listen and unknown content explained itself by the way native speakers used their vocabulary. But when I invited a friend of mine to listen to Slovak radio, she didn't understand much. It was the moment I realized I had devoted to Slovak a significant amount of time. Still, for a Polish speaker, few weeks of radio based immersion would be sufficient to understand above 75%-80% of the content.

Czech is slightly more remote from Polish than Slovak is, still, immersion and patience gave me passive knowledge of the language similar to my command of Slovak. I would suggest Slovak-> Czech sequence for Polish speaking people.

Both Czech and Slovak are blessed with a large amount of podcasts available thanks to corresponding national radio websites. Having bigger native population, Czech has more rich literary tradition.

To sum it up, I believe 20-30 hours of listening to radio material would be enough if you already speak decent Polish. The numbers would be probably different for other languages in the family.


Having studied Slovak and Czech, I wanted to check if I would understand other Slavic languages in their written form. I discovered I was able to read a short Wikipedia article in Russian and Croatian with about 50-60% comprehension, which is a nice percentage to begin with.Sorbian has showed itself to be yet more intelligible, sharing familiar features with Czech and Polish. Written Ukrainian contains a lot of Polish loanwords and again I was able to read Ukrainian Wikipedia articles with some degree of comprehension.


Vlad wrote:
Some observations for the Slovak – Czech – Russian combination

- Czech is closer to Russian than Slovak when it comes to grammar and vocabulary both.
- Czech and Russian both often use dual adjective forms like: jsem ti vděčný/jsem ti vděčen whereas Slovak doesn’t use these at all.
- Czech and Russian both often use verbal forms like the Russian говорящий, говоривший, Slovak doesn’t.
- Czech and Russian both have similar ways of building conditional constructions.
- Both Czech and Russian have the distinction between „to go by foot“ and „to go by car/tram/plane..“ while Slovak doesn‘t.
- Czech has absorbed a lot of German words, Slovak has absorbed a lot of Hungarian words and both of the languages, especially at a formal level use a lot of Latin-based or English-based vocabulary. Russian seems to be much more conservative in this respect and if there is a Russian word for the Latin or English equivalent, it will use the Russian one.
- In both Czech and Slovak the stress falls on the first syllable, in Russian it doesn’t.
- In some situations, Russian language uses a different case compared to the same situation in Slovak or Czech.
- In some situations, Russian verbs are intransitive while the same verbs are transitive in Slovak or Czech


Difficulties for a speaker of Slovak studying Russian:

- dynamic stress
- sentence stress
- the pronunciation of ш ж ы вь фь рь cь
- the absence of the verb “to be” in the present tense
- some case endings
- some perfective verbal forms
- somewhat distant vocabulary (about 30-40% has to be learned or cannot be guessed)
- fixed reflexive verbal forms in Russian versus free reflexive verbal forms in Slovak: мне еще надо много учиться – ešte sa musím veľa učiť
- having to realize when to use иду and еду, since this difference does not exist in Slovak.


winters wrote:
[...] I can speak both Croatian & Russian. Russian is, if you know another slavic languages, relatively easy to learn. Compared to Croatian, it is much easier in the aspect of morphology; when it comes to the lexis, the vocabulary of both languages is fairly similar to a decent extent (there are, though, ENTIRELY different things and so-called false friends, but, nevertheless, you can still recognise and intuitively understand many of the unknown words). The spelling is somewhat more of a challenge because it is not phonetic (despite the subtle differences in Croatian between Č and Ć, and IJE/JE, the Croatian spelling is easier, because it is mostly phonetic, whilst Russian is not as much), but once you get used to it, it is alright ;) When it comes to pronounciation, a lot of the sounds match; Russian sounds softer, though, more palatalised (which is in the script indicated by "soft" sign; there is also a "hard" one), and I suppose the only "alien" sound would be the sound of Russian "hard I" (y).
Also, the words are stressed in the Russian in the different way, i.e.it takes some time to adjust and to intuively understand which syllabe is stressed.

Overall; I could write an essay about them, but the bottomline is, they are quite similar and Russian is easy to learn if you can speak Croatian. The other way round, as far as I've seen, is more complex (i.e.it is harder to learn Croatian from Russian), but still one does not have greater problems ;)
You asked about declensions. They are similar to some extent, BUT...a lot of it confuses. For example, the word "sestre" in Croatian is in the genitive case, but in the Russian it is dative, etc... Accusative mostly matches in the singular (e.g."sestru" in both languages).

[Ed.: winters' comments are from post no. 25 in the discussion “Slavic Language Family Learning Sequence”]


zhiguli wrote:
Ukrainian pronunciation could be easier because the spelling is more "phonetic" and it's more sparing with palatalized sounds than Russian (which are said to be especially difficult for native English-speakers).

This closer reflection of pronunciation does cause other problems. In Ukrainian і/у in prepositions/prefixes regularly alternate with й/в (something that does not happen in Russian) and there are a bunch of rules to learn for this, and they are not always followed consistently.

Another example: the preposition з "from", which has the variants із/зі/ізо(ізі) in Ukrainian while the Russian equivalent is с (and со before a small number of consonant clusters).
Ukrainian also has a vowel shift і>о/е, while Russian has nothing of the sort.

As for vocabulary, it's hard to say. Ukrainian has been playing second fiddle to Russian for such a long time that it does seem to be a poorer, "village" language with a smaller vocabulary. On the other hand its word stock is also more characteristically Slavic, while Russian has more international words and loans from French/German/English/etc. Ukrainian also has a lot of dialects and the standard language is not so firmly entrenched as it is in Russia. Many people write according to the norms of their dialect rather than the standard, even in newspapers (I suspect this is one reason I can't find certain words in dictionaries, something that is not much of an issue with Russian).

Likewise for grammar. Some things are more regular in Ukrainian, like the plural (in masculine/feminine nouns the ending is almost always и/і, while Russian has a whole bunch of exceptions), but other things are more complicated, like:
- the -у/-а split in the genitive ending (in Russian it's almost always -a)
- the split -у/ові dative ending (in Russian - always -у)
- the vocative (various endings, as pointed out this one is largely absent from Russian)
etc.

In general the -а -ові endings are used for animate masculine nouns, but beyond this the rules are vague at best.
Ukrainian also seems more "composed", where Russian would use separate words following regular declension, Ukrainian has longer, single words that are not the same as the sum of their parts. For example saying "in x season":

En. Rus. Ukr.
"In winter" зимой взимку ("в зимі")
"In spring" весной навесні ("у весні")
"In summer" летом влітку ("у літі")
"In fall" осенью восени ("в осені")

In Rus. it's just the instrumental case of the noun.

Of course I'm biased, coming from it from having studied Russian first, but overall Ukrainian, at least as far as grammar is concerned, seems more difficult and capricious.

[Ed.: zhiguli's comments are from post no. 6 in the discussion “Is Ukrainian easier than Russian?”]


Edited by Chung on 22 February 2015 at 9:43pm

27 persons have voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5701 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 2 of 35
11 April 2011 at 6:22pm | IP Logged 
This type of profile is designed for people who are interested in learning their first Slavonic language but are unsure of which one to pick. I hope that this brief profile will help potential learners focus their choice. Even though the Baltic and Slavonic languages likely form a valid clade within Indo-European, incorporating Baltic here may not be overly useful since the isoglosses that it shares with Slavonic may not be readily obvious or useful to non-specialists or casual learners of Slavonic languages (these are however of much interest to linguists). However I will be happy to extend this profile to cover Baltic languages if there is sufficient interest or if there is a forum-member who has knowledge of a language from each of the Baltic and Slavonic subgroups and would like to add some information.

As noted in the Finno-Ugric profile similar profiles for Romance and Germanic are in the works while ones for Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Malayo-Polynesian and Semitic among other groups seem feasible given the languages represented by the forum's membership.

Comments and/or suggestions are welcome as always. I encourage others who have studied at least two Slavonic languages as foreign languages to post comments here or via PM to me so that I can incorporate them into the main profile as time allows.
4 persons have voted this message useful



hrhenry
Octoglot
Senior Member
United States
languagehopper.blogs
Joined 3675 days ago

1871 posts - 3641 votes 
Speaks: English*, SpanishC2, ItalianC2, Norwegian, Catalan, Galician, Turkish, Portuguese
Studies: Polish, Indonesian, Ojibwe

 
 Message 3 of 35
11 April 2011 at 6:22pm | IP Logged 
This is purely an observation...

I've noticed your use of the word "hyperbole" in a couple different profiles now. This is just my opinion and you can, of course, ignore it, but overuse of the word itself can be interpreted as exaggerated.

Again, JMO.

R.
==
1 person has voted this message useful



mr_chinnery
Senior Member
England
Joined 4302 days ago

202 posts - 297 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French

 
 Message 4 of 35
11 April 2011 at 6:59pm | IP Logged 
hrhenry wrote:
This is purely an observation...

I've noticed your use of the word "hyperbole" in a couple different profiles now. This
is just my opinion and you can, of course, ignore it, but overuse of the word itself
can be interpreted as exaggerated.

Again, JMO.

R.
==


For real? He uses the word once in a really useful 4000 word post about some pretty
obscure languages and that's all you can say? Sounds like a criticism more than an
observation. But that's just an observation.

1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5701 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 5 of 35
11 April 2011 at 7:08pm | IP Logged 
hrhenry wrote:
This is purely an observation...

I've noticed your use of the word "hyperbole" in a couple different profiles now. This is just my opinion and you can, of course, ignore it, but overuse of the word itself can be interpreted as exaggerated.

Again, JMO.

R.
==


I admit that it may be lazy on my part since you can probably tell that the Slavonic profile is an adaptation of the Finno-Ugric one right down to certain sections having the same wording. If it makes it better, I can replace "hyperbole" with "exaggeration". ;-)
1 person has voted this message useful



maxval
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Bulgaria
maxval.co.nr
Joined 3618 days ago

852 posts - 1577 votes 
Speaks: Hungarian*, Bulgarian, English, Spanish, Russian
Studies: Latin, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 6 of 35
11 April 2011 at 9:29pm | IP Logged 
I have studied seriously Bulgarian and Russian. And I also had some kind of studies of Church Slavonic, BCMS and Slovenian.

My suggestions are:
1. Your first Slavonic language should be one with a Cyrillic alphabet. Choose BCMS, Bulgarian or Russian!
2. From a practical viewpoint the best option is Russian.
3. Gramatically Bulgarian (and of course Macedonian, which is de facto the same) is the most distant from all other Slavonic languages: presence of articles, almost no noun conjugation, complex system of verb conjugation, so it is a very atypical Slavonic language.
4. Lexically Bulgarian would be a very good choice, since it has the most common words with other Slavonic languages. Also, many Slavonic languages were influenced by Church Slavonic which is originated in the Old Bulgarian language.
4 persons have voted this message useful



maxval
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Bulgaria
maxval.co.nr
Joined 3618 days ago

852 posts - 1577 votes 
Speaks: Hungarian*, Bulgarian, English, Spanish, Russian
Studies: Latin, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 7 of 35
11 April 2011 at 9:43pm | IP Logged 
Studying Bulgarian from Russian viewpoint, potential problems:
1. Learning the use of the articles.
2. Learning pronunciation, specially the lesser degree of palatalization and the lack of palatalization before “e” and “i” vowels.
3. Learning to use the complex verb system, specially the verb tenses.

Studying Russian from Bulgarian viewpoint, potential problems:
1. Learning the difference between use of endings expressing “static situation” and “movement”.
2. Learning use of Accusative in nouns.
3. Learning correct use of noun cases, specially with prepositions.

5 persons have voted this message useful



Mooby
Senior Member
Scotland
Joined 4650 days ago

707 posts - 1219 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 8 of 35
11 April 2011 at 10:55pm | IP Logged 
Thanks Chung, very useful.
I'd be interested if a Baltic profile could also be compiled as I'm
considering learning Latvian.



1 person has voted this message useful



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