All Slavic languages: Standard vs. spoken language

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by MathiasSWE, Nov 12, 2008.

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  1. MathiasSWE Member

    Hey everybody!

    I am curious to know about the gap between the standard and spoken languages in the Slavic-speaking world. From what I understand, the gap between standard and spoken Russian is very small and the dialects are very homogeneous, whereas when it comes to Slovenian the dialects can be very far from each other and the standard language is very much a constructed one.

    What is it like for the other Slavic languages?

    Thank you!
  2. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    As you correctly pointed out, there is a huge disparity between standard Slovenian and spoken Slovenian. In fact, someone using standard Slovenian in a casual context runs the risk of appearing affected or unnatural.

    Perhaps the most common characteristic of most forms of spoken Slovenian is vowel dropping. There are also dialects that have no neuter (Zapri tist(i) oken (m.) instead of Zapri tisto okno (n.) = "Close that window"), dialects that have no dual, some obscure dialects that use masculine forms for females, dialects that are transitional to Croatian (at least one with a Shtokavian-like future tense!), dialects that are transitional to West Slavic (using vy- instead of iz-, for instance), dialects that still use the imperfect and aorist, dialects that pronounce the letter "g" as "h" (hora instead of gora = mountain), dialects that transform all "l"s, not just the word-final ones, into "u" or "w"s (pršwa instead of prišla = "she came"), and so on.

    This huge dialectical diversity renders many fringe dialects virtually unintelligible to speakers from other parts of the country.

    BTW, even the word jaz = "I" isn't common in many forms of spoken Slovenian. In Ljubljana, for instance, most people say jest; in my grandmother's dialect, they use ja, and so on.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  3. trance0 Senior Member

    As far as I know, Resian is the only dialect that still shows remnants of aorist. As for imperfect, I am unaware of any Slovene dialect that still uses it.

    I agree with the rest of your post.
  4. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    I was going by what I read in a few sources such as Comrie and Corbett's The Slavonic Languages: "Within this area are the highly idiosyncratic dialects of the Rezija valley, [...] where the aorist and imperfect tense forms have, in one form or another, survived." Of course, it's entirely possible that these sources are out-of-date or just wrong; I'm certainly not a linguist, so any corrections are more than welcome. :)
  5. trance0 Senior Member

    Well, basically it goes like this: first the imperfect was ousted by the orginally compound perfect and afterwards the aorist suffered a similar fate. So, aorist was in use longer than imperfect, but still disappeared from the language long ago. If we compare the situation with Serbocroatian, we see a similar trend, the imperfect is practically dead while aorist is still in use in many of the dialects.
  6. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I agree with trance0: it is aorist that is preserved there, in the dialect of Resia/Rezija, and that only with a few verbs.

    As far as BCMS is concerned we've recently got this discussion about aorist and imperfect running where, obviously, some native speakers have come to the conclusion that we still haven't established well how common imperfect is, but that at least it is common, in some regions and/or dialects and/or age groups.

    That's right, but there is sociolinguistic variation: from educated разговорня речь to просторечие to мать there exists a broad range of linguistic varieties. But someone with real knowledge of Russian and its varieties should comment on that; I certainly can't do that.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  7. Tagarela Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    Português - Brasil

    As for Czech language, it has been discussed here

    And which is the Slavonic language that shows less differences between standard and spoken varieties?

    Na shledanou.:
  8. trance0 Senior Member

    It appears that imperfect in BCS is no longer used by the great majority of the population(aside from some mostly older people in certain areas) since most cannot distinguish this tense from aorist. In Croatia, even aorist is pretty much dead. It seems the synthetic past tenses in BCS are on their way of dying out, just as it has already happened in Slovene.
  9. Anatoli Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Ukrainian has a variety of dialects too. There are discussions now as to what makes the standard Ukrainian, as many words, which were considered Ukrainian before are now considered Russianisms. For obvious reasons, Eastern and Southern dialects are closer to Russian, Western dialects are closer to Polish and Slovakian.

    Belarusian has, apart from the standard language, two main dialects. The subdialects may have some Ukrainian, Polish influence but all of them are heavily influenced by Russian to the point that people are not able to separate what's Russian, what's Belarusian.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  10. iobyo Senior Member

    Bitola, Macedonia
    The differences between Standard/Literary and Spoken Macedonian are mostly phonological. Omitting intervocalic consonants is quite common (прави → праи; негови → негои; повеќе → поеќе).

    There are many dialect groups, individual dialects and sub-sub-sub-dialects (two villages speaking the same dialect may use different words particular to their village).

    As far as comprehension is concerned, someone speaking their own dialect will usually be understood by speakers of another dialect. In fact, we enjoy making fun of each other by imitating each others' dialects. This is due to a leveling process (coming closer to the written standard) and speakers of different dialects living in the same community. The capital city is a good example of this, where few people can say their great grandparents are from that city.
  11. sokol:

    >That's right, but there is sociolinguistic variation: from educated разговорня речь to просторечие to мать there exists a broad range of linguistic varieties

    From my POV, the differences are mostly lexical. If there're any regional grammatical pecularities, they are not considered acceptable in a wide context. It is sufficient to learn just standard Russian to sound naturally in any Russian-speaking country.

    In Belarus there's only one spoken language (though, indeed, philologists will tend to look for "dialects" to report), but there are two widespread written forms: the official and the so-called tarashkevica. The choice between a Polish-originated and a Russian-originated equivalents of a word is often a matter of political views rather than "dialects".
  12. Athaulf

    Athaulf Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    In Croatia, wherever you go, you'll likely find three different levels of language:

    (1) Standard Croatian, used almost only for formal purposes. (These days, almost nobody uses it in its pure official standard form, but more on that below.)

    (2) The authentic old local dialect, which will often be vastly different from the standard language, sometimes to the point of being hardly comprehensible for non-locals. Nowadays the dialects are likely to be spoken in their pure form only by old and uneducated rural people.

    (3) The modern local vernacular, which is a mixture of the standard language, elements of the old local dialect, and various modern non-standard innovations in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. These modern local vernaculars are relatively close to the standard and mutually comprehensible without much trouble.

    Regarding the standard language, the issues of language standardization in Croatia are in a state of chaos. Almost nobody follows the official standard strictly in any context any more, and elements of local vernaculars are increasingly seen and heard even in serious media and other very formal contexts (which would be considered as totally inappropriate a generation ago). This is especially noticeable in pronunciation -- in Croatian cities, if you follow the official accentuation rules strictly, you're more likely to come off as an unassimilated rural newcomer than an educated, "properly" speaking person. Also, the inability to grasp certain details of the standard language that are absent from most local dialects (e.g. differentiating between the phonemes ć and č) has lost most of its former stigma.

    Nevertheless, there are still many elements of local vernaculars that would be totally out of place in any sort of formal speech, let alone writing. For example, there is a huge number of words that have different vernacular and standard forms, for which the standard form would sound strange and stilted if used in everyday life, but the vernacular word (often a German, Turkish, or Italian borrowing) would sound terribly inappropriate in a formal context. The situation is similar with numerous differences in morphology and syntax.

    The situation in other ex-Yugoslav countries formerly covered by the Serbo-Croatian standard (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro) is more or less analogous.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  13. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    But, paradoxically, the gap between standard and spoken language (and the ensuing chaos you're talking about) seems to be the widest in Croatia, at least to my observation. I said "paradoxically" because Croats are generally most sensitive (compared to Serbs and Bosniaks) to the issues of language, and use of language as an element of national culture. Yet they cannot agree what is the correct accentuation system, and what is correct spelling of many words.

    However, it's not only politics. Croatia has the misfortune that the native dialect of its capital and principal cultural centre -- Zagreb -- is very distant from the standard (which is mostly based on Herzegovina and Dubrovnik dialect). Also, Croatian dialects are the most diverse -- it's a patchwork of Shtokavian, Chakavian and Kajkavian, and ijekavian and ikavian on top of that. German influence has been stronger on north, and Italian on south. And so on.

    On the contrary, the primary Serbian dialect (ekavian Vojvodina-Šumadija dialect) is also the dialect of Belgrade, and the dialect of elite. It's also fairly close in accentuation and other features with the (arguably "more standard", Vuk Karadžić's) ijekavian Eastern Herzegovinian, spoken by Western Serbs (and Southeastern Croats). The third principal accent group (Southern Serbia/Torlak) is fairly suppressed and considered uneducated.

    So, the situation in Serbia is somewhat better, and, in Bosnia, while the language politics is entirely crazy, at least the dialects are so homogenous that everyone mostly intuitively knows what is correct and what not. Not that literacy level is too good anywhere.

    Yes, I'm aware that I made many generalizations (which are inevitable in a short post), and take the above just as an overview, from somewhat personal perspective.
  14. WannaBeMe

    WannaBeMe Senior Member

    Serbian (ijekavian)
    Serbian written language is not far from the spoken language but there are some differences. There is two variaties of pronauciation of jat, eastern -e- vs. southern and west -(i)je-. mleko vs. mlijeko; devojka-djevojka. In west-southern dialects d,t- can be melt with "jat" thus "je" like đevojka. Common for all dialects is the droping of "h" in every position in the word hljeb vs. ljeb or "h">>>"v" if between vokals (uho>>>uvo) while Bosniaks tend to insert h even where it not belongs (hlopta vs. lopta - ball). One character of Bosniak dialects is to drop vokals "i" and "u" if they are not stressed, but not completely, you can still hear it like half-vocals. (Nemoj pricati vs. nemoj pricat´; u kući vs. uk´ći ; Bosna i Hercegovina vs. Bosna i Hercegov`na etc.
    On the other hand in East-Southern Serbian to the Macedonian or Bulgarian border there is some mixture of Serbian with these two languages, those are Torlaks dialects.
  15. Mišo Senior Member

    Preßburg aka Pozsony
    Austrian German & Hungarian
    The contrast between standard and spoken Slovak is extensive, because of fairly motley dialects, that affect informal daily speeches.

    All dialect groups differ mostly in phonology, vocabulary and inflection. Syntactic differences are minor. Not all dialects are fully mutually intelligible. In my opinion, the most racy dialects are the northeast ones and záhoráčtina on the other side, the most archetypal dialect is in Horehronie.

    The dialects are fragmented geographically, separated by numerous mountain ranges. The first three groups already existed in the 10th century. All of them are spoken by the Slovaks outside Slovakia (USA, Canada, Croatian Slavonia, Bulgaria and elsewhere) and Central and Western dialects form the basis of the Lowland dialects.

    The western dialects contain features common with the Moravian dialects, the southern central dialects contain a few features common with "latin" south Slavic languages, the eastern dialects a few features common with Polish, Rusyn and Ukrainian. Lowland dialects share some words and areal features with the languages surrounding them (Serbian, Hungarian and Romanian).

    Still better, morphological principle of standard Slovak spelling consolidate all dialects. Forms derived from the same stem are written in the same way even if they are pronounced howsoever differently.

    Main differences between Slovak dialects

    Eastern dialects (in Spiš, Šariš, Zemplín and Abov) use not long syllables (that makes their speech comparatively quickly), speak notably soft de te ne le di ti ni li (manytimes ď ť assimilated to dz c) and have penultimate stress (that all at times makes them difficult for westerners to understand).

    Central dialects (in Liptov, Orava, Turiec, Tekov, Hont, Novohrad, Gemer and the historic Zvolen county) use furthest long syllables, speak soft de te ne (somewhere also le) di ti ni (somewhere also li) and as it were they have dynamic stress (some of the north-central dialects have a weaker stress on the first syllable, which becomes stronger and "moves" to the penultimate in certain cases). Liptov dialect taken the basis of the present-day standard Slovak.

    Western dialects (in Kysuce, Trenčín, Trnava, Nitra, Záhorie) use long syllables, norther speak soft de te ne (somewhere ď ť assimilated to dz c), di ti ni (in Kysuce also le li), souther speak hard de te ne le li (in wide region of Trnava also di ti ni) and have first syllable stress (somewhere first syllable is enlogated). Trnava dialect supported standard Slovak of the 18th and first half of the 19th century. Just ľ is current pronounced by many speakers, particularly from western Slovakia, as a non-palatalized l, esp. in li and le where the caron is not written. The palatalized pronunciation of li and le as palatalized has become orthodox middle and eastern dialect feature, or as a sign of hypercorrectness and of the literary separation from the Czech.

    Lowland dialects (outside Slovakia in the Pannonian Plain in Serbian Vojvodina, in southeastern Hungary, western Romania, and the Croatian part of Syrmia) are often not considered a separate group, but a subgroup of Central and Western Slovak dialects, but it is currently undergoing changes due to contact with surrounding languages (Serbian, Romanian and Hungarian) and long-time geographical separation from Slovakia.

    Dialects in Slovakia here:
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  16. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
  17. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Hi Mathias,

    Here are some considerations on this topic.

    {First}, mountains (rough terrain) is favourable to lingustic variety while smooth terrain is favourable to lingustic uniformity. Examples: the linguistic variety in Caucasus, the variety of dialects (romance, German, Slavonic) in the Alpes, etc.

    {Second}, the long development of a language on that territory is favourable to the variety of dialects. For instance, the variety of dialects of English or Spanish is greater in Europe than in America.

    Thus, we have already two explanations of the differences you noticed between Russian and Slovenian. {First}, unlike Russia/Moskovia, Slovenia is an alpic country. {Second}, Slovenia is assumed to be part of the Patria Linguae Slavonicae while Slavonic was brought to Moskovia not earlier than in 10th century AD.
  18. Azori Senior Member

    I'm not familiar with Slovak dialects too, and that's because nowadays they aren't spoken in Slovakia that much. Actually, I'm not sure if they even are. I'd bet that only some old people speak like that. Everyone I meet here speaks the standard language, regardless where he/she is from.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2009
  19. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    That's interesting. In Slovenia, virtually everyone speaks either a dialect or some more generic form of colloquial Slovenian. Standard Slovenian is fairly rare outside of more formal contexts.

    In fact, it's usually easy to tell what part of Slovenia someone is from based on his or her dialect. Traveling around Slovenia, a very small country, one notices how dramatically the spoken language changes from region to region, sometimes even from town to town. Many dialects are virtually incomprehensile to people unfamiliar with them, not just because of borrowings from neighboring languages (Italian in western Slovenia, for example), but also because the vocabulary and the phonetics (and even the grammar, in the case of some remote dialects) can be very different. There are even some false friends among various Slovenian dialects!

    You can read a discussion about Slovenian dialects HERE.
  20. texpert Senior Member

    This is almost inconceivable in the Czech lands. The dialects are so rare that we almost cherish them as a national treasure. Yet almost no one speaks literary Czech either. It sounds so formal that there exist two standard languages in fact - written and spoken.
    Otevři okno, prosím tě.
    Votevři vokno, p'sim tě.
    Open the window, please.
    From the colloqial form you can vaguely tell if someone is from Prague, West or East - and Moravia, naturally, which has most of the dialects here.
  21. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Interesting. Does the fact that dialects are so rare in Czech have anything to do with the fact that the Czech lands have historically been more urbanized than many other Slavic countries?

    In Slovenia, I have even heard people from Ljubljana remark that they would never really feel at home living in Maribor, Slovenia's second city, because their inability to speak the local dialect would forever mark them as outsiders. The differences are not limited just to pronunciation. For example, "this money" is ta denar in standard Slovenian, but toti penezi* in the dialect spoken in Maribor. There are many other such differences.

    There are some Slovenian dialects with no neuter, some with masculine forms for females, some with West Slavic features, some with gender-merged case systems, some that form the future tense completely differently, and so on.

    * similar to the Czech peníze
  22. texpert Senior Member

    Czech linguists, please join me here.

    I have to admit I'm rather clueless. So far I assumed that Czech lands were too small to form any distinctive dialect groups (as in the UK or Germany). But given the fact that Slovenia is even smaller, the only other significant fact that strikes me is that the Czech has nearly come to naught as a modern language (due to Germanisation) in the course of 17th and 18th century, and when it reestablished itself, it had to be virtually taught again as a literary language. But it is true that there are no distant "unapproachable" valleys and the vital link between the town and village has never been cut to such extent as somewhere else.

    Again, this sounds amazing to me. I never heard of any Czech unwilling to move solely on this basis. It is true there are some regional variations of vocabulary. The tramvaj in Prague is šalina in Brno (second largest) for istance. Also some people from Moravia never lose their accent but it is usually seen as a nice personal feature here (at least in Prague). For istance my father was born in Opava, 400km from Prague. But although he has retained his accent (it feels more like a flavour to his speech), I cannot think of more than ten words spoken by him differently. Perhaps some people will disagree, but when compared to British English or German, the Czech and Slovakian actually do relate to themselves as dialects.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  23. Ayazid Senior Member

    I agree completely with you. The dialects are moribund here, unlike some 80 or 90 years ago when they were still quite common. But today to hear a young person speaking a dialect would be almost ridiculous (unfortunately). Virtually all of us speak a certain kind of colloquial common Czech (altogether not that different from the standard formal language), which differs only in accent, some regional words and there are also some slight divergences in pronunciation. Especially young people tend to speak in almost the same way everywhere in the country.

    By the way, as for your example I think that in most of Moravia, the colloquial version would be identical with the formal one, since we don't use to add that v- to words beginning with o- (as you probably know :)).

    Well, I am no linguist but I have read some interesting articles about this topic and it seems that until the 16th century the language spoken in Bohemia and Moravia used to be almost uniform but in that period the dialects started to diverge more, mostly in the pronunciation of vowels.

    Currently I am reading the book mentioned above, which describes exhaustively Czech, Slovak, German, Rusyn, Hungarian and even Gypsy dialects as they used to be spoken in our country in the beginning of the 20th century (very interesting reading by the way :)) and what caught my attention was the fact that the traditional Bohemian dialects were quite similar to each other and not greatly different from the colloquial Czech as it is spoken today. Of course one can find some odd words or forms here and there but after all it almost doesn't feel like a dialect!

    On the other hand the Moravian dialects were much more diverse with the Eastern ones being close to the dialects of Western Slovakia, Northern to Polish and central forming a specific Hanák subgroup (most of Moravia). However, today they are all in retreat and what is replacing them is a Bohemian-based colloquial language on which they have left only a few imprints.

    Anyway, the reasons of this current uniformity must be the high level of urbanization, centralization and rather lowland character of our landscape. The dialects have been considered to be something funny, boorish and sign of low education, so it's no surprise that they died out if their speakers were ashamed of using them!

    (À propos, I think that we should continue our discussion about dialects in the thread All Slavic languages: Standard vs. spoken language since it has not that much to do with mutual intelligibility, right? ;))

    Right: this is not mutual intelligibility. Posts moved. :)
    (Moderator note - sokol)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2009
  24. texpert Senior Member

    I think Ayazid has pretty much exhausted the subject in the best possible way. Still, would someone responsible switch us into the proposed (standard vs. spoken) thread, in case we should like to continue?

    Sure thing. This sample was taken from a different reply where I was referring to Bohemian lingo, yet I should have made it clear there.

    This is definitely the case here (the stigma of boorishness). Even the first president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk - who otherwise made no secrets about his rustical origins and valued his Moravian-Slovak roots and upbringing - made sure that he was speaking standard spoken Czech.
    Was this not the case in Slovenia, Croatia and other places where the dialects are widepsread?

    I'd really like to but my technical prowess is clearly not sufficient :)
  25. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    In Slovenia, it's (still) very common even for young people to speak in their local dialects.

    In part because the territory of present-day Slovenia was never united admininstratively before the end of World War II, Slovenian dialects had developed independently from each other for centuries. Parts of the Slovene lands were under Venetian (Italian) rule for a long time, a small chunk was under Hungarian rule, while even modern Slovenia's heartland was divided between two different Austrian states, Carniola and (Lower) Styria.

    This is a major reason why Slovenian has so many dialects. In fact, it is often said that standard Slovenian is virtually an artificial Slavic language created by taking bits and pieces from various Slovenian dialects, primarily from the Dolenjska and Gorenjska regions of Carniola. (A small-scale Slovio, if you will. ;))

    This is another reason: Slovenia is a very mountainous, historically rural country, with numerous ranges, valleys, and vast forests that have hindered communication through the ages.

    People who move to Ljubljana from other regions often adopt a more generic form of colloquial Slovenian (as well as standard Slovenian in more formal contexts) to fit in and sound more sophisticated. However, for people who live in Maribor or Koper, for instance, their local dialect carries no stigma; it's what most people there use on a daily basis. In fact, many TV reporters based in Koper use standard Slovenian grammar and vocabulary, but with a heavy accent that immediately identifies them as speakers of the local dialect.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  26. Mišo Senior Member

    Preßburg aka Pozsony
    Austrian German & Hungarian

    are some recordings from older humoristic broadcasts under the name of "Stredoslováci". Two jesting humorists try to imitate central Slovak. People from this area were their rewarding entity.

    I was born and I live in Upper Trenčín region. When I come to my Zvolen family (central Slovakia), dialect jump is basically co-equal as when I come to my Walachian home-folk (east Moravia).

    Such a boss-eyed gestios is advisable to disregard.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2009
  27. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    The "flat land" argument (strong dialects in mountains but hardly any dialects in flatlands) really is a myth.
    There are plenty of flat regions with strong dialect features - Austrian Burgenland, Slovenian Prekmurje, Northern Italy etc.

    The reasons usually are political and historical; concerning Slovenia: it was split into several political units - while Bohemia and Moravia were one political unit since medieval times; and surely there are more reasons, but this thread is not about history, right?
    Austrian Burgenland and Slovenian Prekmurje never were political or economical centres: thus dialects remained strong, there was little levelling of dialects.
    In Northern Italy the situation was different: this region was an economical centre for a long time but was split politically to the extreme: here political borders played an important role.
    (But let's not elaborate on those Non-Slavic situations; this here is a Slavic thread, those examples are only given to emphasise the point I make here. :)

    It is a well-established fact that Slovenia is strongly divided into several dialect groups while Czech only has two main "dialect" or "accent" groups (whatever word you prefer) - Bohemian and Moravian.
    BCS also is very diverse concerning its dialects - here politics even played a greater role (division between east and west, the Ottoman Empire, migration of Shtokavian dialect speakers to the west, etc.).
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  28. Mišo Senior Member

    Preßburg aka Pozsony
    Austrian German & Hungarian
    But several times I have heard something about your forwardness. You were not by chance the most industrialized part of Yugoslavia? There were a lot of good news about you here. ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2009
  29. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Yes, Slovenia was the most developed part of Yugoslavia; in fact, it remains the wealthiest post-communist country in terms of per capita GDP.

    However, Slovenia has always been a rural country at heart. Much of its industrialization ocurred only after World War II, but even in the period between 1945 and 1991, Ljubljana was essentially a provincial city, despite its status as the Slovenian capital. In Austro-Hungarian times, the Slovene lands were profoundly rural; most of the politically influential urban-dwelling bourgeoisie was ethnically German. Educated Slovenians pursued their studies in Vienna, Prague and Munich. Slovenia didn't have any centers of learning that could even remotely compare to those cities. The Slovene lands were a rural backwater in many respects.

    Of course, Slovenia always had close cultural ties to Austria and, to a lesser extent, Italy; this helped Slovenia to retain a liberal, Western-oriented worldview even in the era of communist Yugoslavia. This, in addition to its industrialization, gave Slovenia a reputation for being forward-looking.

    Nevertheless, Slovenia's industrialization came relatively late and didn't completely change Slovenia's fundamentally rural national character. It was also limited compared to many other countries; even today, Slovenia remains one of the EU's most rural and heavily forested countries. About half of its population is rural, compared to just about 25% in the Czech Republic.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  30. texpert Senior Member

    Oh, I didn't know about that. As to the above-mentioned strong German influence, how much did it affect the vocabulary? In Czech, it is a strong feature of technical jargon and general slang, but given the late Slovenian industralisation it must have left another mark?
  31. Ptak Senior Member

    Lexical? I definitely wouldn't say so. There could be some slight differences in pronunciation, mostly in Kostroma-Vologda region (where they pronounce the unstressed "o" like "o") and in the South (where they speak sometimes with Ukrainisms)... But as for vocabulary, I don't think Russia's regions have any evident differences in vocabulary, I'd say quite the opposite. Vocabulary is equal in the whole Russia.
  32. skye Senior Member

    I'd like to add something here as a speaker of such a dialect. g is actually not pronounced as h, but as a voiced consonant which sounds very much like h (h is voiceless). I can perfectly distinguish between h and the voiced h-like consonant and I can hear which one is being used. They are not one and the same sound to me.
  33. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I think - or at least, that's how I understood Panda Nocta - that the lexical variation mentioned refers to sociolects: "dialects" used according to social class (that is, просторечие and мать): those varieties of spoken language might be quite uniform throughout the whole of Russia (that's what all posts so far suggest :)), but there are varieties, lexical ones: which might be used by working class, or also by middle and upper class if they want to come over more colloquial in style.

    I've heard about this unstressed "o" pronounced like "o" (and not weakened) in northern Russian dialects already which reminds me that (I think) in some southern dialects pronunciation of "g = г" like in Ukrainian - as "h" - also exists: did you mean that with Ukrainisms?

    It's amazing anyway that there is so little variation in Russian, with the language stretching over such a huge area. :)

    This is the voiced "h" which also is spoken in Carinthian (both in German Carinthian and Slovenian Carinthian dialects :)).
    It is indeed clearly different from the voiceless "h" - especially as Slovenian (standard language) "h" is pronounced [x] in IPA; but of course it is also different to IPA [h].
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  34. Ptak Senior Member

    I do not quite understand, sokol, what you mean "мать". Maybe "мат"? :)
    But anyway, просторечие and мат are not used according to social classes. Мат is the same for all classes. Only some rude (poorly educated, also) person can use it in the street when children and women are around him, and the other person would not act like that. But I think you easily can find someone who never studied at the University (so can be considered as "poorly educated" person), but would never use мат in the presence of children or women, or just unfamiliar persons (or even with his wife / friends).
    I actually don't even think that "social class" is a topical idea in Russia. The society in the whole is equal. Some are richer, and some are poorer, yes, but there are not significant differences between social classes in the lexical, and maybe even in the mental meaning; and the idea of a "social class" is mostly... theoretical in the modern Russia. Thinking that only the "working class" uses мат, and that the "middle class" speaks more decorous, and that there is a class of "professors" who speak completely lofty is totally wrong.

    Well, yes, mostly. There is also another peculiarity: to pronounce the "в" at the end of words like "у" (exactly like Ukrainians do). That's how our Sport Minister Mutko speaks, for example. If I am not mistaken, that's how Gorbachev speaks, too.
    But it doesn't mean that everyone in the South speaks like that, or that everyone in Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Vologda pronounces the unstressed "o" like "o".

    The harder it is to explain that to some foreigner who just says "I don't believe it"... :(
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  35. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Sorry, that's just my ignorance. :) I dont really speak Russian, and it seems that the "ь" just "creeps in" in places where it doesn't belong at all. :)

    It is rare that there is no dialect variation according to class (or almost none) but of course I trust your judgement. :)

    That is, "бывший" pronounced "быуший", right?
    I didn't know that that's an Ukrainian feature too; I think the same also occurs in Slovak, but I know for sure that the same is the case for Slovenian where "bivši" in fact is pronounced "biuši" (the "u" of course not being syllabic) - it is both standard language and dialect in Slovenian, though, except for some Slovenian dialects where it would be "bifši" (Styrian Slovenian, I think?! or was it Prekmurje?).

    Yes, I can imagine. :D
    (As you see I too was sceptic.)
  36. Ptak Senior Member

    Hm... I'm not sure about "бывший". Probably he (I mean Mutko whose pronunciation I'm trying to recall) pronounces this word as [быфший], as in standart Russian. But I definitely remember he pronounces "игроков" as [игракоу]. And his "г" is like in standart Russian, by the way.
    I must add, I have relatives in the South, and they never spoke like that.
  37. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Informal Slovenian uses many German loanwords. They are especially common in some areas, such as household items and car parts, but they can be found in virtually every aspect of life. Many of the more recent borrowings were never accepted into standard Slovenian and are now a considered examples of very informal or even substandard speech. Many other German words, however, did make their way into standard Slovenian over the centuries, often in a modified form. A quick browse through any Slovenian etymological dictionary reveals that a relatively large percentage of Slovenian vocabulary can be traced back to German (often Old High or Middle High German).
  38. Mišo Senior Member

    Preßburg aka Pozsony
    Austrian German & Hungarian
    "toti peneźi" is Košice form for standard "tieto peniaze"
  39. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Interesting! :) I suppose this could be more evidence of the old West Slavic / South Slavic dialect continuum. The "doubled pronouns"* of some of Slovenia's eastern dialects (the use of toti instead of the standard ti [=these], for instance) are indeed similar to some Slovak forms.

    * This is my description; I don't know what the phenomenon is officially called.
  40. skye Senior Member

    I didn't know about that. BTW, I'm not from Carinthia. I'm from Severna Primorska.

    It feels a bit strange to talk about this sound as h, because I don't perceive it as h at all, so I sometimes wonder if we really do have the same thing in mind.

    Maybe there are some other dialects where they really use h instead of g?
  41. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Well, I searched the internet for Carinthian dialect samples but all I found had "h" = [x] and "g" = [g], so no voiced "h": but I know from personal experience that bilingual Carinthian Slovene dialect speakers pronounce "h" voiced when using German Carinthian dialect. (Those German Carinthian dialect speakers who are not bilingual do the same, of course. :))

    So I am not quite sure if they actually use voiced "h" in Carinthian Slovene dialect too: but I try to find out (I am not a Carinthian Slovene - and I have left all my Carinthian contacts behind when I moved to Vienna).

    Ah - finally: found one :) so it wasn't a Fata Morgana after all: search this document here for "/h/-Gebiet" = "/h/-region" = the region where "g" is pronounced as a voiced "h".

    Basically, "g = h" is valid for the central dialects of Carinthian Slovene - that's a huge simplification but the point anyway is that the pronunciation of "g" as a voiced "h" exists, and is indeed quite common, in Carinthian Slovene.
    But when Carinthian Slovenes speak standard language they pronounce "g = g" - this applies for dialect only (nevertheless, standard language as pronounced by Carinthian Slovenes sounds radically different than pronounced by Slovenians from Slovenia - mainly because their "r" sound is a fricative "r").
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  42. skye Senior Member

    Thanks. I tried to view the document, but I'm having some problems with internet lately, so I haven't managed to see it yet. I'll try again later.

    I think that in Slovenia this is pretty much typical for my region only, but not for all the dialects in the region.
  43. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I can give a short quote of that:

    "Nimmt man als Indikator nur einen einzigen Paramter, nämlich die Realisierung des Phonems /g/, kann man an den Ortsnamen die völlig chaotische Verteilung dieser Reflexe ablesen. Heute wird /g/ im zentralen Bereich als /h/ realisiert, während es im östlichen Jauntal und im Gebiet westlich des Faakersees jeweils als [g] gesprochen wird."
    Source: Heinrich Pfandl: Neues in den slawischen Sprachen & Sprachkontakt, Ringvorlesung, WS01/02, 22. Jänner 2002 (Nachbesprechung 24.Jänner)

    That's the most important part of it which roughly describes the geographical distribution.
  44. skye Senior Member

    Thank you.
  45. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    Some of the most hard-to-understand Slovenian dialects are spoken in Prekmurje (the Slovenian lands across the Mura River). This area was located in Hungary (rather than Austria) in Austro-Hungarian times and had its own literary standard. Nowadays, the written standard is no longer officially used (apart from hymn books in Protestant churches and other such limited uses), but the spoken dialects of Prekmurje thrive.

    Here is the Lord's Prayer in standard Slovenian:

    And this is how it looks like in the Prekmurje literary standard:

    The comparison comes from the very useful Wikipedia article about the Prekmurje dialect:

    As the article states, the dialect is known as prekmurščina, prekmursko narečje, or panonska slovenščina, and was formerly referred to as sztári szlovenszki jezik by its speakers.
    Last edited: May 28, 2009
  46. Kanes Senior Member

    In Bulgarian there is a big diference but almost exclusivly phonological. Mainly the preposotions and particles are pronounced togehter with words, letters are put after the word which helps pronounce them withouts stops between, its more pro-drop... Also the specific differences varie greatly along with dialect.. which they actually stem from mainly. Its usefully to say that the standard language has aways been limited to TV or written form.

    tam li sme - tamlisme (are we there)
    ot kade da znam - deda znam - (where should i know from)
    v kolata - fkolata - (in the car)
    tuk si - tukasi - (you are here)
  47. Коста

    Коста Member

    Modern Serbian standard is a direct derivative of the spoken language and does not differ singificantly from it. It's orthoraphy, also, is based on the perceived sound rather than etymology and is as close to phonetic as can be reasonably expected.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2009
  48. Коста

    Коста Member

    @Triglav. The Prekumurje version is closer to the original Church Slavonic, still chanted in Eastern Orthodox liturgies, posted here in modern Serbian orthography:

    Оче наш, иже јеси на небесјех,
    Да свјатитсја имја Твоје,
    Да приидет царствије Твоје,
    Да будет воља Твоја, јако на небеси на земљи.
    Хљеб наш насушни, дажд нaм днес,
    И остави на долги наша, јакоже и ми остављајем должником нашим,
    И не ваведи нас ва искушеније,
    Но избави нас от лукаваго.

    Јако Твоје јест царство, и сила и слава, Оца и Сина и Свхјатаго Духа. Амин.
  49. phosphore Senior Member


    If Serbia were only Belgrade, that would be true. However, things look differently when we take into account also other parts of Serbia, especially the easternmost and southernmost ones.
  50. Коста

    Коста Member

    Well, actually, in Serbia everyone writes the way they speak. There is no one particular regional dialect that is considered "standard" for all.
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