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Thread: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

  1. #201
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by COF View Post
    As far as Macedonian, Slovene and Bulgarian goes they are debatably dialects of the same language, although that's a sensitive issue. However, you then go onto only being able to understand the written language of other Slavic languages more distant to the South Slavic group.
    I'm afraid there must have been some confusion here. As others have pointed out, of all the South Slavic languages, Slovenian (Slovene) and Bulgarian are linguistically -- and geographically, for that matter -- the most distant. In fact, Slovenian is not even considered mutually intelligible with Serbo-Croatian (BCS), let alone Bulgarian, which is, as DarkChild put it, a whole different story both grammatically and lexically.
    Last edited by TriglavNationalPark; 30th December 2008 at 9:23 AM.

  2. #202
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    I wouldn`t say Serbo-Croat is completely mutually unintelligible with Slovene. I have little trouble understanding it. It can certainly be understood with little trouble, speaking it correctly is another matter, but it is still clearly the easiest foreign language to learn to speak for any Slovene.

  3. #203
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by trance0 View Post
    I wouldn`t say Serbo-Croat is completely mutually unintelligible with Slovene. I have little trouble understanding it. It can certainly be understood with little trouble, speaking it correctly is another matter, but still it is clearly the easiest foreign language to learn to speak for any Slovene.
    True, it's not entirely mutually unintelligible, but a BCS speaker with no prior exposure to Slovenian would not be able to follow and join in a conversation in Slovenian, and vice versa. That's why linguists don't consider them mutually intelligible languages. After all, when a BCS speaker appears on Slovenian television, or when a Slovenian speaker appears on, say, Serbian TV, there are always subtitles or an interpreter's voiceover. Many if not most Slovenes do understand and even speak some BCS, partly because of BCS's former status as Yugoslavia's lingua franca and the availability of Croatian media in Slovenia, but I've noticed that ethnic Slovenes who grew up overseas often don't understand BCS at all (or at least well enough to follow a simple conversation), even though they are native Slovenian speakers.

    Examples of mutually intelligible Slavic languages include Croatian and Serbian (of course), Bulgarian and Macedonian, Czech and Slovak, and so on. You can commonly hear Czech on Slovak TV or Croatian on Serbian TV without any translation.
    Last edited by TriglavNationalPark; 30th December 2008 at 10:04 AM.

  4. #204
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Well, having a Serbian subtitled on Croatian TV or vice versa would be a bit ridiculous. I am not sure about Slovak vs. Czech, but I would say the differences between them are somewhat bigger, although probably still not profound enough to hamper intelligibility too much.

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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by trance0 View Post
    Well, having a Serbian subtitled on Croatian TV or vice versa would be a bit ridiculous. I am not sure about Slovak vs. Czech, but I would say the differences between them are somewhat bigger, although probably still not profound enough to hamper intelligibility too much.
    I am sure, that, generally, mass of Czechs and Slovaks neither not demur to their mutual diffrences already.
    I do know by no means, how the situation seems in your midst, but in our place the languages are profoundly intercorrected.
    As one sample, you can hear slovak bands on czech radio stations repeatedly or see an american movie with czech dubbing on slovak television stations oftentimes.
    Of course, twifold fleshly predominance remain on, Czech influence Slovaks in some respect regularly more that vice versa.
    So, really, primarily younger bohemian generation could have bigger understanding problems.

    I am rather inquisitive again, which language Poles deem as more understable - Czech, Slovak, fifty-fifty, or it is given geographically (Silesia, Malopolska ipod.).
    I am asking this, because I guess, we both understand Polish more or less equally and polish share some clear-cut components with Czech on one hand and with Slovak on the other hand.

  6. #206
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by TriglavNationalPark View Post
    Examples of mutually intelligible Slavic languages include Croatian and Serbian (of course), Bulgarian and Macedonian, Czech and Slovak, and so on. You can commonly hear Czech on Slovak TV or Croatian on Serbian TV without any translation.
    I think this is more because of history than mutual intelligibility, at least for Czech and Slovak. In Macedonia, for example, a Bulgarian or Serbian talk show would be subtitled (though not always the case with Serbian) while a street interview on the evening news would not.

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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Thanks for your interesting insight, everyone! In Slovenia, BCS is always translated -- recorded TV shows and interviews are subtitled, live TV discussions are simultaneously interpreted, Internet articles from Croatian sources are translated, and so on. In other words, BCS is treated like any other language.

  8. #208
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by iobyo View Post
    I think this is more because of history than mutual intelligibility, at least for Czech and Slovak. In Macedonia, for example, a Bulgarian or Serbian talk show would be subtitled (though not always the case with Serbian) while a street interview on the evening news would not.
    In Macedonia they do subtitle Bulgarians, not because they don't understand it, but for other reasons. It's very funny to see subtitles which are almost the same as what the person is saying. In Bulgaria, Macedonians are never (or very rarely) subtitled.

  9. #209
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    I've heard of Czechs who state they understand only every third word in Slovak, or they don't understand it well yet enough to make themselves understood. Some even, when hearing it, think it's Polish. No joke. It is said it's not only the young generation that has problems with understanding, but also older people seem to forget the language.

  10. #210
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    It's all just a put-on or make-believe. Though I admit having ocassional difficulties with nouns as hydina or kefka (poultry + toothbrush) and verbs as idete (idete do Prešova, potom idete do Smokovce a potom idete po modre na Gerlachovský štít (confusing driving and walking), it's all only a minor inconvenience. In fact, even for 10 years old the mutual intellibility rarely falls under 90%, and most Czech youngsters do have a soft spot for Slovakian. There's ample evidence.

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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    do Smokovca a po modrej

    Hmm, not sure if it's just a make-believe. It might be an exaggeration, but I've heard some of them don't really understand Slovak much, and even need to hear sentences repeated. The Czechs I occasionally come across in Slovakia understand well. But when my mom said something in Slovak to a Czech girl in Czech Republic, the response was: "Vy ste Ukrajinka?" I mean, really....

  12. #212
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkChild View Post
    In Bulgaria, Macedonians are never (or very rarely) subtitled.
    You're right. Slavi Trifonov, on his talk show, seems to think Bulgarians will automatically understand anything a Macedonian says. He still 'translates' Macedonian articles and does a very bad job at it.

  13. #213
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    The reason Slovak is more intelligible to Serbo-Croatian speakers then Czech, it is often remarked in the literature, is that it is the closest thing there is to a "Central Slavic" language. I find that there are fewer Slovak words I have trouble with in a text than there are Czesh ones. Also, a number of Slovak grammatical forms seem to be closer to Serbo-Croatian than their Czech counterparts. (For example, "som" is much more similar to "sam" than is "jsem"; also, the first person singular ending of present verbs in Slovak seems to be -m, just like in Serbo-Croatian, and not the more confusing (for me) -i).

    ...

    I'd say Slavic languages are more comparable to Romance than to Germanic languages in terms of potential for mutual intelligibility. For spoken interaction, I'd say it's much easier for the average Serbo-Croatian speaker to understand a Bulgarian or a Slovene than it is for a Spaniard to understand a Portuguese or Catalan speaker, let alone an Italian.

    Formal linguistic training certainly helps a lot, and so does willingness to communicate. I mean, without the latter even speakers of one and the same language may claim not to understand each other. I was watching a Catalan TV show shot in Valencia the other day in which the journalist (speaking in a Barcelona accent) could not get a Valencian lady to answer her question. The lady said (in perfect Valencian, which also amounts to damn good Catalan) "No t'entenc, parla'm en castelà" ("I don't understand you. Talk to me in Spanish).
    Last edited by Transatlantic; 31st December 2008 at 10:14 AM.

  14. #214
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Quote Originally Posted by Transatlantic View Post
    The reason Slovak is more intelligible to Serbo-Croatian speakers then Czech, it is often remarked in the literature, is that it is the closest thing there is to a "Central Slavic" language. I find that there are fewer Slovakian words I have trouble with in a text than there are Czesh ones. Also, a number of Slovak grammatical forms seem to be closer to Serbo-Croatian than their Czech counterparts. (For example, "som" is much more similar to "sam" than is "jsem"; also, the first person singular ending of present verbs in Slovak seems to be -m, just like in Serbo-Croatian, and not the more confusing (for me) -i).

    Agreed, I find Slovak significantly easier to understand than Czech.
    ...

    I'd say Slavic languages are more comparable to Romance than to Germanic languages in terms of potential for mutual intelligibility. For spoken interaction, I'd say it's much easier for the average Serbo-Croatian speaker to understand a Bulgarian or a Slovene than it is for a Spaniard to understand a Portuguese or Catalan speaker, let alone an Italian.

    This paragraph is inconsistent. First you claim Slavic languages are more comparable to Romance languages and then you say that it is more difficult for a Spaniard to understand a Portuguese or Catalan than it is for a Serbo-Croatian speaker to understand Bulgarian or Slovene. Are you speaking from personal experiences? I am Slovene and I can say I have great difficulties understanding most Slavic languages except for Serbo-Croat(I understand on avarege 90% of written and spoken language) and written Slovak(I can understand about 60% of written language). Slavic languages are similar, but unfortunately for the most part far from mutually intelligible. Interesting are my experiences with Russian. Spoken, I can hardly understand anything, but written, after I`d read some Russian orthography rules I can understand around 40%. Even more interesting: I was once watching a short documentary on Viasat in Russian with Slovene subtitles and I saw remarkable resemblance between the two languages, I can honestly say that after a while I could pretty much understand nearly 60% of Russian in that documentary.

    Formal linguistic training certainly helps a lot, and so does willingness to communicate. I mean, without the latter even speakers of one and the same language may claim not to understand each other. I was watching a Catalan TV show shot in Valencia the other day in which the journalist (speaking in a Barcelona accent) could not get a Valencian lady to answer her question. The lady said (in perfect Valencian, which also amounts to damn good Catalan) "No t'entenc, parla'm en castelà" ("I don't understand you. Talk to me in Spanish).

    I fully agree with that.

  15. #215
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Yep, sorry. I could have made my middle paragraph more internally consistent.

    On the whole, I meant to say, the intelligibility situation when it comes to Slavic languages is more comparable to the situation among different Romance languages than that among Germanic ones. For instance, just imagine a German trying to understand written Icelandic or a Canadian trying to read German. The result would be very poor. It would be much worse with spoken language.

    On the other hand, as a Spanish speaker, I can understand Italian news (on TV) with some effort (and not perfectly) and read Italian press with ease. I find Portuguese easy to read, but harder to understand (whereas Portuguese speakers seem to understand Spanish better). Similarly, Catalan is easy for me to read and I can watch TV in this language without too many difficulties.

    Overall, I think Serbian-Slovene or Serbian-Bulgarian conversation (slow, deliberate, with willingness to make oneself understood) is easier than Spanish-Portuguese conversation, but not much easier. I do say this from personal experience.

    But, like I said before, I am a linguist and I am more aware of linguistic form than the average speaker of any of the languages I mention here.

    Anyway, the key point is that Slavic and Romance semi-communication is overall more feasible than Germanic (except among the continental Scandinavian languages and, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps between Dutch and German and definitely Dutch and Afrikaans). Not perfect, fluent conversation, but survival conversation.

    ...

    I think I find Russian texts readable because many learned words are really similar - first Russian borrowed heavily from Old Church Slavonic, a South Slavic language, then Serbian borrowed from Russian (though not as heavily as Bulgarian)....

  16. #216
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Well, I think I would have little trouble learning Russian, at least passive understanding should be relatively easily achievable for me. If I went to Russia, I believe a couple of months would be enough to gain basic proficiency and passive knowledge of most of everyday spoken Russian.

  17. #217
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    I'd find the pronunciation quite daunting, though

    With all the vowel reductions, mobile stress, and all the soft/hard consonant contrasts, I'm truly happy I'll never really have to learn Russian. Too much work.

    Though, you're right, it should be fairly easy to learn it receptively.

  18. #218
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by Transatlantic View Post

    Overall, I think Serbian-Slovene or Serbian-Bulgarian conversation (slow, deliberate, with willingness to make oneself understood) is easier than Spanish-Portuguese conversation, but not much easier. I do say this from

    (Mods, a little off-topic comment, be patient, please =) )
    I don't know how it is with Serbian and Bulgarian, but Spanish-Portuguese, at least for the Portuguese side, as you have mentioned, goes well. Okay, it doesn't if the Spanish speaker speaks too fast or use too much regional expressions, but if it keeps more on standard language, we can understand it very much. But for some reason, for Spanish speakers it seems to be hard.


    Going back to the topic, mm, I see now, after hundreds of comments, that a real mutual intelligibility really occurs in a few pairs of language. The last comments on Czech-Slovak have surprised me a little, I thought that the intellibitility between these two languages was bigger regardless political union. It seems, correct me if I wrong, that Czech and Polish seem to be of the most "isolated", or not?

    Happy New Year!

    Good bye.:
    "Em boca fechada não entra mosca" - sabedoria popular

  19. #219
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    I think we're not necessarily fully off-topic with this Spanish-Portuguese business. What it illustrates is that the "more conservative" of a pair of languages can sometimes be easier to understand than the "less conservative" one.

    In the case of Spanish and Portuguese, I believe that Portuguese speakers are aware to an extent of what their language used to sound like when it was more similar to Spanish. This is made possible through familiarity with written Portuguese, as the spoken language can diverge quite considerably from the written.

    Danish and Norwegian are similar, with spoken Norwegian being much closer to how the language is written than is the case with Danish.

    You could probably think of pairs of Slavic languages where the same would apply. I wonder...

  20. #220
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    Re: All Slavic languages: Mutual intelligibility

    I forgot to mention that in the Czech Republic people can't hear Slovak on TV at all, and they dub everything, even Slovak shows. In the past they dubbed a Slovak TV series into Czech. Not long time ago, a Czech commercial TV bought a Slovak series and the initial plan was to dub it into Czech, however, they later decided to keep it as it is, but changed the broadcasting time -from evening to 9 o'clock in the morning, Monday to Friday, when everybody's at work or at school.
    Last edited by Azori; 31st December 2008 at 3:46 PM.

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