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Balto-Slavonic Profile

 Language Learning Forum : Collaborative writing Post Reply
35 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 35  Next >>
Haukilahti
Triglot
Groupie
Finland
Joined 3393 days ago

94 posts - 126 votes 
Speaks: Finnish*, English, Polish

 
 Message 25 of 35
04 May 2011 at 4:30pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
For me the mutual intelligibility between Baltic and Slavonic is rather similar to what I find between Finnish and Hungarian. The odd cognate is recognizable and various structures or tendencies are comparable but that's it.

That is quite a peculiar definition of mutual intelligibility.

Besides, those odd cognates between Finnish and Hungarian are... very rare. Here is somewhat of a list: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/johanna.laakso/Hki/f-h-ety.html
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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5585 days ago

4228 posts - 8256 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 26 of 35
04 May 2011 at 4:40pm | IP Logged 
Basically the mutual intelligibility is close to 0%. Or mutual unintelligibility is close to 100%. It seems to be a matter of semantics, but it doesn't change the result from a learner's point of view.
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maxval
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Bulgaria
maxval.co.nr
Joined 3502 days ago

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

 
 Message 27 of 35
05 May 2011 at 8:29am | IP Logged 
Relationship between Hungarian and Finnish is like relationship between English and for example Bengali. Can an average American understand anything when as a tourist in Bangladesh he hears people speaking in Bengali (with the exception of international words)? :-) Yet English and Bengali are in the same language family, and share a rich common linguistic heritage.

Hungarian and Finnish are in the same language family, but in different branches of this language family. And in the branch of the Hungarian language there is no other language. And even the closest branch to the Hungarian branch, the Obi-Ugric branch is too distant. And Finnish belongs to one of the most distant branches!

Yes, there is the same logic in many linguistic matters. May it helps a learner, but not so much.

But this doesnt help and Finnish native speaker to learn Hungarian or any Hungarian native speaker to learn Finnish. Even, strangely, the opposite is true. 100 % of Finns learn as their first foreign language Swedish, an Indo-European language, and as a second foreign language in 99 % of the cases, English, also and Indo-European language. In the case of the Hungarians it is the same: and average Hungarian child learns in the school always an Indo-European language as a foreign language (usually English or German or French or Spanish, and at a lesser grade Italian or Russian or Latin or Greek, etc). So the concept of "foreign language" is linked to the Indo-European logic. This is why when Hungarians want to learn Finnish, they search there an Indo-European logic too...
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michal
Pentaglot
Newbie
Czech Republic
Joined 3733 days ago

16 posts - 34 votes
Speaks: Czech*, English, German, Russian, French
Studies: Latvian, Modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Polish, Yiddish, Greek, Hungarian

 
 Message 28 of 35
05 May 2011 at 12:30pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:
Thanks Michal, I've just added your comments and changed the comment on mutual intelligibility.

I do hesitate to say that the mutual intelligibility between Baltic and Slavonic is absent (implying 0). Perhaps our definition here differs. For me the mutual intelligibility between Baltic and Slavonic is rather similar to what I find between Finnish and Hungarian. The odd cognate is recognizable and various structures or tendencies are comparable but that's it. When I was studying Lithuanian I noticed a few items (other than what I've listed already) that reminded me of Slavonic (or at least my background in Slavonic helped in deciphering them).

For example I noticed that ž in a Slavonic language sometimes matched g in Lithuanian

e.g.

živ(j)eti = "to live" (BCMS/SC) Cf. gyventi (Lithuanian)
železnice = "railroad" (Czech) Cf. geležinkelis (Lithuanian)

There were also a few words that stood out because I could find them only in Baltic and Slavonic or at least the similarity was striking enough for me as a non-specialist to notice and remember.

e.g.

desno = "rightwards" (BCMS/SC) Cf. dešinys = "right (side)" (Lithuanian - it turns out that a distant cognate is dexter (Latin) which I had initially not picked up)
hlava = head (Czech, Slovak) Cf. galva (Lithuanian)
ruka = hand (Czech, Slovak) Cf. ranka (Lithuanian)


Chung, you are right about the lexical similarities between Lithuanian and Slavic, most of your examples also extend to Latvian:

živ(j)eti = "to live" (BCMS/SC) Cf. gyventi (Lithuanian), dzīvot (Latvian),
železnice = "railroad" (Czech) Cf. geležinkelis (Lithuanian), dzelzceļš (Latvian),
hlava = head (Czech, Slovak) Cf. galva (Lithuanian, Latvian),
ruka = hand (Czech, Slovak) Cf. ranka (Lithuanian), roka (Latvian).

We are most likely of the same opinion concerning the extent of Balto-Slavonic mutual intelligibility. We just have not completely synchronized our terminology before discussing the issue.

Trying to agree on a definition of “mutual intelligibility” is obviously a bit of a minefield, judging by the discussion we have unleashed here. I have probably formed my own intuition in this matter based on my experience within the Slavonic, Germanic and Romance language groups and I would consider two languages mutually intelligible if a person understands most of the other one either right away, or after a bit of exposure to it or even after spending a day learning fifty words and a dozen phonological correspondences. I suppose some people would hesitate whether the last case constitutes mutual intelligibility and others would extend the idea of mutual intelligibility even further.

Definition intricacies aside, I believe the current version of the Balto-Slavic profile does a good job presenting well organized basic information about the languages involved to somebody who is considering learning them. The statements on mutual intelligibility provide reasonably accurate answers to questions of the type “if I learn A, will I be able to understand B?” the comments from forum members you included at the bottom of the profile provide information about lexical parallels which might be useful to language learners. Thanks for a good job.

Michal


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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5585 days ago

4228 posts - 8256 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 29 of 35
05 May 2011 at 10:13pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for your comments Michal. As you can tell, I had envisioned these profiles to act as guides for learners rather than for linguists. That's why I've wanted to include as many comments from learners as possible since it keeps the focus on learning how to use or acquire these languages given a defined background in a related language.

We can argue endlessly over what defines mutual intelligibility but when it comes to this aspect, the overriding spirit of these group profiles is that if learners could take advantage of rules or reliable "cheats" to accelerate acquisition or may simplify understanding something in a related language, then it should go in the profile. Every little bit helps but we've made it clear that while these "cheats" exist, no one should delude him/herself into thinking that there's substantial mutual intelligibility within the entire family or that learning other languages in the family must automatically be a cinch after learning the first one.

By the way, feel free to add more input (including anything about your experiences in learning other Slavonic languages as a native speaker of Czech). Even if your combination of languages overlaps noticeably or is identical to that of others (e.g. hauteville, Vlad) there's no problem for me to add your experiences since not everyone goes through identical experiences.
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Марк
Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 3485 days ago

2096 posts - 2972 votes 
Speaks: Russian*

 
 Message 30 of 35
28 August 2011 at 8:35pm | IP Logged 
There is no vowel reduction in Belorussian. Stressed vowels are long in Russian.
Bulgarian and Macedonian are fusional synthetic languages, despite lose of declension.
Some information about dialects can be added.
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Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5585 days ago

4228 posts - 8256 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 31 of 35
31 August 2011 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
Марк wrote:
There is no vowel reduction in Belorussian. Stressed vowels are long in Russian.
Bulgarian and Macedonian are fusional synthetic languages, despite lose of declension.
Some information about dialects can be added.


There is vowel reduction in Belorussian but the thing is that its effects are masked by the fact that Belorussian spelling reflects some of the reduction (hence reducing the difficulty in identifying it) whereas Russian spelling does not. Here's one description among others which describes vowel reduction in Belorussian.

http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-1400.html wrote:
Ch. 7 Vowel reduction, Catherine M. Crosswhite /a/ can be reduced to a schwa, or other vowels can be reduced to /a/. Crosswhite argues that there are two types of vowel reduction: In a language such as Belarussian, mid vowels /e/ and /o/ reduce to /a/ in an unstressed context. Contrasts which exist in stressed context are neutralised, but the perceptual difference between the set of unstressed vowels /i/, /u/, and /a/ is large, larger than if the non-high vowels had reduced to schwa. Crosswhite calls this "contrast-enhancing reduction". In a language like Bulgarian, /a/ reduces to schwa (neutralising with a phonemic schwa which does not undergo reduction by raising) and /e/ and /o/ reduce to /i/ and /u/ respectively. Crosswhite argues that this is due to a "desire to avoid particularly long or otherwise perceptually salient vowel qualities in unstressed position." [p204] She calls this "prominence reduction". Russian and other languages have both contrast-enhancing reduction and prominence reduction associated with different contexts.
[bolding by me]

Thanks for the other bits and I'll incorporate them in the list for Russian. When I think of it Bulgarian and Macedonian would be considered fusional overall (considering that verb conjugation shows a mix of fusion and some analysis), but with declension marked by quite a bit of analysis. The impression of analysis may be magnified because of comparison to other Slavonic languages which are much less analytic. I also didn't know that stressed Russian vowels are pronounced with a bit more length than unstressed ones (however when compared to languages which show canonical examples of long and short vowels, Russian long vowels aren't as long as those in say English or Finnish).
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Марк
Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 3485 days ago

2096 posts - 2972 votes 
Speaks: Russian*

 
 Message 32 of 35
16 February 2013 at 4:39pm | IP Logged 
http://people.ucsc.edu/~padgett/locker/vreductpaper.pdf
Quote:
Table A1 in the Appendix gives the duration values (mean and standard deviation)
for all vowels
and all speakers, together with results from a one-way ANOVA for each speaker. With the
exception of one speaker (AC) whose durations are much shorter, vowels in the Stressed
context
have a duration of around 100-160 ms, while the Unstressed and Prestressed vowels have
a mean
duration of between 40 and 80 ms. The distinction between Stressed and Prestressed
vowels, as
well as Stressed and Unstressed vowels, is strongly maintained by all speakers in both
the
palatalized and the non-palatalized contexts, according to the ANOVA results. However,
while
most speakers (7 out of 9) show a significant difference between the Prestressed and
Unstressed
vowels in the non-palatalized context, the opposite is true in the palatalized context,
where 7 out
of 9 speakers do not show a significant difference between the Prestressed and
Unstressed
vowels.



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