Slavic languages

To continue the nice conversation we’re having with @tatjana.
I’m sure that Brailles is much more “cry”! But I found that my students (their native languages all use the Latin writing system) struggle a lot with the cyrillic, especially considering the fact that its two forms (the printed and the cursive version) are quite different, and the letters are hardly recognizable sometimes… Added to the difficulties presented by Russian grammar, where nearly everything changes (verbs, pronouns, nouns, adjectives) it makes it not such a popular choice. So it’s really nice to hear that there’s some interest for it in Slovenia!
So you know Serbian as well? Was it very difficult to learn? And is it very similar to Slovene? Or is it the same as with Goidelic and Brythonic Celtic languages which seem to be quite different despite some similarities in grammar? I’d love to learn some other slavic language one day (preferably a rare one), but it’s a very vague plan. So many languages, so little time:)

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Well, back there in Yugoslavia we all have learnt Serbo-Croatian what is a kind of mixture of both. We didn’t even know the differences inbetween both of them until our common country fall apart in 90s previous century. So I tend to say very carefully that I speak Serbo-Croatian instead of both separate languages.

I hold Serbo-Croatian much like my native language and it actually wasn’t hard to learn, even cyrillic script seamed easy. We actually have learnt all letters - capitals, lowercases and “handscript”. I have to admit I’ve forgotten most of the script but if I’d try to read hard for some days I’d surely remember a lot of it if not all.

And, yes, Serbian, Croatian, Serbo-Croatian, this all is quite similar in some phrases and structures to Slovene but only Slovene holds duality in its gramar. And - as many languages - we have infinitive which can be quite different from indicative. If we take the first word from SSiW course and try to pretend we’re learning Slovene it would be something like this:
"We’re going to start with two verbs that you’ll use a lot. The Slovenian word we shall use for “to like” is “imeti rad” (or “rad imeti” (it goes both ways)). The word we’ll use for “to try” is simply enough “poizkusiti”.
In Slovene “I am trying” is “Jaz poizkušam.” or “Poizkušam” we can leave subject out and we do this almost always on daily basis
and “I like” is “Rad imam.” (Rada imam. for feminine).

Both - Serbian and Croatian (and Serbo-Croatian for that matter) have infinitive of course, but none of them has duality though.

*Hope I didn’t stress too much on here … *


I suddenly realized I don’t know anything about southern Slavic languages! We did a course in theoretical linguistics at university, but that was about 10 years ago, and we concentrated on Romanic and Germanic languages. So now I’ve found some information about Serbo-croatian and Slovene on the internet and I’m reading it right now. Thank you for awakening interest in me, I’m very curious by nature, especially in what concerns different languages. I’ve even tried learning the Napoletano and Siciliano dialects of Italian, not because I needed to but just because they seemed beautiful.
Do you have dialects in the Slovene language, by the way, or do people in different part of the country speak more or less the same language? In Russia (and in Belarus too, because hardly anyone uses Belarusian in everyday life, people speak Russian mostly) we don’t have distinctive dialects – the language is much more uniform than even English, I daresay.
And Rad/Rada imam is such a lovely expression It looks very similar to the Russian радость (joy) and иметь (to have), so if you hadn’t told what it means, I would’ve translated it as “I have joy in” or “I’m happy about”…

“Veselim se.” or “Vesel/vesela sem.”

“Srečen/srečna sem.”

Everything else in this expression is more about context of what you’re happy about.

O, boy … we have many dialects and some of them (like that from Resia (Rezija) in Italy where Slovene people are leaving too and that from “Prekmurje” region) are totally ununderstandable for foreign ear. Let’s see if I can find some of those on YouTube …

… nope, nothing what would be suitable and I can’t speak them aswell.

This is a good illustration to just how wrong it is to assume that words that sound similar in different languages have the same meanings as well. “Веселимся” (pronounced more or less as “veselimsja”) in Russian is “we’re having fun”.
And, shame on me, despite having lived in Italy for 4 years I didn’t know about Resia and it’s dialect. So people there are probably all bilingual because, I assume, they have to learn Italian at school? Is the dialect somehow protected by the government?

“Mi se zabavamo.”. or “Zabavamo se.”
or also “Imamo se fajn.” or “Imamo se lepo.” :slight_smile:

In Italy there is Slovene minority all along from Trieste (Trst), Gorizzia (Gorica) all the way to Treviso (Trbiž) and there somewhere inbetween is Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Furlanija, Julijska Krajina) and Rezija belongs to that area.

Yes, people are billingual there, but this is not most in common and government, despite the contracts and such stuff were signed inbetween Slovenia and Italy, doesn’t do much for protection of minority rights and Slovene language with it. Slovene people are really kind of minority there and they encounter quite huge problems when using their native language - Slovene. But those are political “scenes” which I believe don’t belong to this forum though.

Slovene people in Italy mostly speak non-dialect Slovene or that one dialect from Primorsko region which qutie varies from “main” Slovenian speach. However those in Friuli are really something special. Even we, who are native Slovene speakers can hardly understand them or don’t understand them at all, that much their dialect varies from our every day spoken language.

And, yes, they all have to learn Italian at school even if they go to Slovenian school otherwise I presume daily life becomes impossible to handle.

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Oh, I finally found something that is really similar not just in the sound, but in the meaning, too – “забавляться” (zabavliatsa) is actually “to have fun” in Russian. I wonder how much Slovene I’d understand if I went there one day… Can you understand eastern Slavic languages?
Thank you, the things you tell about Slovene and its dialect in Italy, it’s all really interesting. I have a great respect for language minorities who, despite not being assisted by the government, still manage to protect their own language and, like people in Sardegna (Sardinia) always try to raise their children to be bilingual, no matter how many difficulties it presents. I know of course that it’s a natural things for some languages to die out eventually, but it’s still a big loss every time it happens.

This is definitely my favourite conversation this week :sunny:

I’ve had a faint, niggling desire to learn Russian ever since a history teacher at school (for no particularly obvious reason) made us learn a verse of a song about Stenka Razin:

Из-за острова на стрежень,
На простор речной волны,
Выплывают расписные,
Острогрудые челны.

I sing that cheerfully at the drop of a hat whenever I either have something to drink, or meet someone from Russia, or both.

Oddly, and perhaps because my brother once did some Russian, I also appear to be able to remember ‘gde moya sumka’ and ‘bozhe moy kak bolshoi’. Oh, and I was taught to say ‘horosho’ (?) when I played pool with some Russians in Dubai once… :sunny:

All in all, it’s clearly high time that we had SSiRussian… :sunny:

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Now I wish you record this … :slight_smile:

I’m a bit sad Slovene is not so high on your repertoair as Russian :frowning: but I’m still glad you have an interest in at least one Slavic language …

Pozdravljena. Ime mi je Tatjana Prelog. Sem Slovenka, živim v Sloveniji, v mali vasici Tenetiše.

Are you able to understand this?

I probably could understand some but Russian (for example) is already a bit different from (let’s say) Slovene, Croatian, Serbian and what’s more to it. A bit special is also Macedonian but it contains quite some similar to Slovene words.

However form the language you partly understand you can catch quite some things from the context and the words you do understand. But I rather won’t be too bright about this whole stuff.

Well, Slovene minority in most countries where it exists has (unfortunatelly) to fight for their language existence despite they are protected by governments. But we never give up for that matter.

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Oh, I agree with @tatjana, the song about Stenka Razin should definitely be recorded! some people here would have difficulties with this song, as it’s phonetically challenging. Also, I find your Russian repertoire absolutely charming:) And I’m glad too there’s an interest in the Slavic languages, no matter how difficult they’re.


I think it can be “Hello. My name is Tajana Prelog. I’m Slovene. We live in Slovenia, in a little town (village) Tenetiše”. Am I right?
I myself can speak Belarusian (though I didn’t really have much chance to use it after school - it’s heard here in theatres and on TV, but not in everyday life) and I understand some Ukrainian, but, for example, Czech and Serbian have been much more challenging for me to understand. Of course, as you’ve said, something you can understand from context and being the same language group it sounds vaguely familiar, so I can understand the gist of the conversation sometimes, but not much more.

This is very admirable, I wish the same for Belarusian, it’s a lovely language really.


Da iawn!
Just “We” change for “I” so you get “I live in Slovenia, in a little village Tenetiše.” “vasica” is little village.

This is perfect! I believe you’d have no particular difficulties with understanding if people would a bit adapt to you and speak a bit slower. So, yes, you’re (let’s say) ready to go in a wilderness with your understanding of Slovene. :slight_smile:

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Diolch yn fawr! I’m actually planning to visit Slovenia one day (it looks amazingly beautiful on photos, like an illustration to a fairytale) so it might be very useful to understand some of the things the native people say! And I think it’s always a good idea to learn a couple of sentences in the language of the country you’re going to, just to show respect:)


I’m here if you need anything language related. :slight_smile:

And yes, it’s always good to know some phrases and sentences or even only words in the language of the country you plan to visit.

I remember when I visited Spain in 1994 I used every single opportunity to say “hola” to people wherever I came. They told me it’s common greeting wherever you come and whoever you greet so I was happy to use it. I also had enourmous fun ordering beer and sangria in Spanish and last day before going home I just popped into one store and blurted out “Avete ustedes sangria de cava?” The woman who worked there almost broke her legs of a speed with which she almost ran to put each and every kind of sangria on the table. It was amazing feeling in deed.

Actually there’s not such problem with me to be afraid to speka, but the biggest problem with me is that I like to talk (a bit) too much and would like to say too many things too fast and despite my vocabulary is VERY limited! :slight_smile:

Diolch! Maybe one day if you still want to have a chat in Italian in Skype I’d ask you to kindly teach me a few words in Slovene as well.

People seem to really appreciate tourists who can speak their language, I agree. Especially in France:) I was advised not to use any Enlish before I went there, so I tried to speak French (mine is very rusty, I can read, translate books and understand people when they’re not talking too fast, but speaking is hard) in the shops and everybody was very kind towards me, they didn’t even cringe at me terrible accent!

Oh, that’s the problem most of the students I know have. They are all wonderfully interesting people with lots of things to say, so it’s hard for them to accet the necessity to use simpler sentences at the beginning. They don’t want simple sentences, they want to chat about nuclear physics and Dostoevskij, and use complex sentences. So at some point they get frustrated and try to use google translate, which kind of makes them talk and write in a clumsy “runglish” or “ruitalian”. I have it too, of course, though I should know better, being a teacher! It helps to remind myself that learning a language is kind of like waiting for a baby - you can’t speed the process)

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With some luck this can happen quite soon. I’m sorting my computer problems this week hopefully outcome will be successful one because PC I need and wish for is quite financial byte for me.

:slight_smile: hopefully you’ll be mercyful with me on Italian since my knowledge of the language mostly abandoned me. To be honest, I’ve learnt it by myself and in school however never really used it. When I visited Italy I didn’t know to speak Italian yet and later on I only have a chance to speak with Germans in German and with people who knew or English or Croatian or Slovene. So, that’s mostly all.

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Don’t worry! I have a very high respect for people who’ve learnt languages on their own. This degree of motivation and persistance is admirable, since learning a languge is one of the hardest things that human brain can do:) So I’m really very curious to chat with you in Italian, I’m sure you’’ remember more than you think you can now!
How many and which languages do you know/have tried to study in total?

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Heh, my only experience of Slavic languages is singing the song “Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém” from the opera Rusalka. I’m pretty sure I got most of the pronunciation wrong…


Let me count …

  1. English - I’ve learnt it in primary and middle school and am constantly (unawearingly) improoving it with things just like this one - writing on the net. :slight_smile: Let’s say I’m learning English for approximately 35 years or so. :slight_smile:
  2. Serbo-Croatian - I’ve learnt it in 5th grade of primary school for half of schoolyear (yup only that little) but I am using it with spaces in time all the time since we’re prety mixed country with people from all ex Yugoslavia. This language I hold almost as my native despite I many times include quite some Slovene words in it but more or less everyone understands me when speaking.
  3. German - it was a horrible need to study it as my mother’s friend had German husband and he didn’t speak anything but German. I sat many too often alone with him in the room (or elswhere) both of us being way too quiet when it was obvious we want to chat. So I’ve bought me a German course on the cassettes in 2 steps (2x12 casettes with 24 lessons in each step) and started to learn. I actually could speak quite well, but my knowledge is fading since I don’t use it anymore. That man unfortunately died and my parents died too they don’t visit us anymore and we actually never got to the point to go there to visit them. My mother’s friend still speaks Slovene (she’s Slovene) despite she lives in Germany already for about 50 or so years.
  4. Italian - first I was so eager that I just wanted to learn the language (just as Cymraeg now) and bought me the course on cassettes from the same series as German. Then later on when I did my (another) evening classes middle school I had to choose the second language. I thought: “Well, German I know already so let it be Italian” and so the learning journey continued. However I never was in position to use the knowledge and I forgot most of everything I’ve learnt despite my marks were actually excellent at that time.
  5. Spanish - I’ve tried some but I hate the courses when there you have material to listen but you actually don’t know when and what to listen too so I’ve gave up prety much fast after I came back from the holidays in Spain in 1994. I aim to continue to learn Spanish when I somehow am confident with Cymraeg in hope I’ll one day visit both, Spain again and Cymru for the very first time … :slight_smile:
  6. And here we are with Cymraeg - my online teen friends at one UK forum and rugby are guilty I’m learning it but the guilt that I’m here on SSi goes to one brilliant tweep who reminded me that SSi exists as I once upon a time already “discovered” the (old) site but I’m not sure why I ran away. Beautiful, strange and a bit tough to learn language it is and because that friend teased me I will never learn ti I was even more determined I’d do it and finish (at least a bit) fluent speaker. I’m far away from that, I know but what a heck … one day I’ll reach my goal, sooner or later. :slight_smile:

So, this is it - 6 in total apart from my native language. I also can say word or two in different languages but not much. One also has to know I never was to any country for longer then a day (except for Croatia where we did our holidays for approximately 30 or so years), I rearly have opportunity to speak the language (whatever despite Slovene) with native speakers and the chance to speak I get once ro twice a year maybe.

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Czech is very challenging phonetically:) Probable one of the hardest Slavic languages, I found it out when I was trying to sing Leoš Janáček’s songs.

Wow, this is actually very impressive! I know not so many people who can speak any language apart from their native one. Here in Belarus we all have to study a foreign language at school (English usually, but sometimes it can be German or French), and if you go to a school with a linguistic profile, you will also have to study a second one. But most people happily forget them after leaving school:) I was very lucky to have a chance to live in Italy, where I went to a school with Italian children, and so I had all the classes in a language that was not my native one. So I studied English through Italian, French through Italian, and also Latin and ancient Greek. Learning a new languge using another foreign one as a medium is quite challenging, but it’s worth it, because you get to know the medium language (in my case Italian) much better. Right now the two languages I think I speak fluently are Italian and English (hopefully), and I occasionally do some written translations from French and Latin. And as for the ancient Greek, I’m afraid I forgot most of it, which is very annoying as it was the hardest language I have ever attempted to learn.
Do you sometimes read or listen to something in German? I think it’s such a difficul language, and it’s so impressive you could speak it, it would be a bit sad to lose the knowledge! It’s one of those languages I wouldn’t even attempt to speak myself!