All Slavic languages: Choice of a language to learn

wojteczko98

New Member
USA, English
Hello. I am going to try to learn a slavic language. I already know cyrillc, so this is not a problem. Which is easiest out of:

Polish
Ukrainian
Czech


Duzhe Djakuju!
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    wojteczko98 said:
    Hello. I am going to try to learn a Slavic language. I already know Cyrillic, so this is not a problem. Which is easiest out of:

    Polish
    Ukrainian
    Czech


    Duzhe Djakuju!
    Hi and welcome! :)

    I don't think you can single out any of them as easier than the other two. Grammar and syntax will be awfully difficult in all of them.

    My recommendation: Pick a country which strikes you as interesting, and learn its language. :)

    Jana

    P.S. We've had a plethora of comparative Slavic threads. They are all in English, so dive in and enjoy yourself. :)
     

    wojteczko98

    New Member
    USA, English
    Thanks a lot! I started out learning Ukrainian, (I am Ukrainian and Polish) but also started an interest in Czech too. Guess I'll have to choose!!
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    If I were to choose one of the ones you mentioned, I'd go for Polish.

    First - I love Polish pronunciation with all the ogoneks and the few nasal vowels.

    Second - I like words accented on the penultimate. Having to always accent the first syllable is kind of painful to me, and Ukrainian and Russian have mobile stress.

    Third - Polish uses the Latin alphabet, which is recognized by most people in the world, I should think, and works in most computers (at least in the Western world) with no sweat. Of course it would be nice to download Polish fonts (especially if you're a perfectionist, like me) but omitting them still makes your text understandable (this is - unfortunately - the case with tons of Internet Polish - and other languages as well - printed in Polish).

    Fouth - There are tons of people in the United States (also Brazil and Argentina) with whom you could practice your Polish.

    Just my 2 zloty. :)
     

    Seana

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello wojteczko98,

    I am supporting jazyk idea with his particularly funny Polish 'ogoneks'

    PS I think it would be better say "Just my 2 grosze".;)
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Russian is my language, of course, so I will advise you to learn Russian. :)

    Not trying to convince you, just for the sake of this discussion.
    I would choose the language, which is more important for me or what I like.

    It is understood and still heavily used in all republics of ex-USSR. In East-Slavic countries such as Ukraine and Belarus,
    it's not only commonly used but is accepted as official, especially the latter.
    Don't accuse me of chauvinism, as there are a lot of anti-Russian moods around. Russian is not imposed on anyone but it's big.

    It is one of the languages, very commonly used and known in Israel. You can take some Skills Recognition tests in Russian
    for example.

    As for immigrants, Russians are everywhere now - Canada, US, Australia, Europe, etc. You can also view Russian news in many countries of the world. If you're in US, just check Brighton Beach in NY (originally more Jewish Russian speakers but it's changing rapidly).

    In Australia, it's 6 times a week in free-on-air TV. Ukrainian and Polish is once a week. No Czech.

    Ukrainian has more consonant changes than Russian in declension and Polish even more but grammar is very simimlar and you can't say,
    which one is easier. Bulgarian and Macedonian are simpler, they don't have cases!

    Having more speakers and readers has the impact on the amount of material available. There is so much written in Russian, you wan't have any problem
    finding learning or practising material.


    I like all Slavic languages, no matter what you choose, good luck with your studies!
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    woijteczko98:

    I realize that you didn't include Russian as one of your choices. Consider what Anatoli says, though: there is a lot more, and better, material to learn Russian than any other Slavic language. Check out xxx (reference to vendor deleted; you may send it by PM) for some of the choices.

    Having said that, if I were limiting myself to your choices I'd go for Polish, for two reasons: the pronunciation is, in my opinion, somewhat easier (although the grammar is just as difficult as it is for any other Slavic language), and there is a fair amount of good material available to learn it, including material published in Poland. There used to be for Czech too, although I haven't seen any for a long time. As for Ukranian, there used to be some good stuff from the Soviet era - check out xxx website again.
     

    übermönch

    Senior Member
    World - 1.German, 2.Russian, 3.English
    Ukrainian is very melodic, Czech sounds cool with all the constants, Polish has also it's charme & melody. Ukrainian might be easier to pronounce because there are there are more syllables than in the other two, however there are a lot of different i's and sh's, Polish might be easy because it lacks the somewhat complicated slavic hard l & Czech would be nice because only few people actually learn it and the natives would respect you greatly for that. Adding to what Jana said ("Pick a country which strikes you as interesting, and learn its language.") you might make your choice basing on which sounds better to you. There are many internet radio and tv channels on www.webantenne.com. You'll have to click on the britomerican flag to make the site english. Whichever you choose, you'll be able to understand a fair amount of the other two as well.
     

    janek

    Member
    Polish, Poland
    I would certainly go for Russian. My second best choice would be Czech, but this one is biased - it's difficult for me to say whether Polish is a nice language or not, as it is my mother tongue. And I absolutely adore the sound of Czech - it's high on my list of priorities :)

    However, as your original question is about the easiness of learning:

    I find Russian a lot easier to learn than Polish, mainly because it's a bit better structured in terms of grammatical rules - for me it's just more logical. We had discussions about it with my linguist colleagues, and most of us felt the same. I don't know much about the Czech though.

    Also, Russians have a great tradition for linguistics, and - as it goes - there are plenty of really good books for learning Russian on all levels.

    Last but not least, I find Russian a real pleasure due to it's flexibility and creativity, especially fixed phrases, and vast amount of delightful literature of all genres.

    This is not to say that Polish is no fun :)
     

    werrr

    Senior Member
    janek said:
    Also, Russians have a great tradition for linguistics, and - as it goes - there is plenty of really good books for learning Russian on all levels.

    So much about linguistics :D
    I think both plural (more usual!) and singular are correct.
     

    Etcetera

    Senior Member
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    wojteczko98 said:
    Hello. I am going to try to learn a slavic language. I already know cyrillc, so this is not a problem. Which is easiest out of:

    Polish
    Ukrainian
    Czech
    If you want to choose a language to learn from this list, I'd advise you to learn Polish. I love this language, and Polish history is also very, very interesting subject. Poland has also very rich literature - I love novels by Henryk Sienkiewicz and poems by Adam Mickiewicz.

    As for Russian, it'd be good choice, too. :)
     

    vince

    Senior Member
    English
    Great thread!

    I think I will learn Russian, even though I don't plan to go to Russia in the near future. Partially because of its role in recent history, and the fact that many people speak it or partially understand it. After learning Russian, I hope to learn other Slavic languages. Then perhaps this will help me get a job in the EU one day!
     

    Seana

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Etcetera said:
    Poland has also very rich literature - I love novels by Henryk Sienkiewicz and poems by Adam Mickiewicz.
    :)
    Etcetera, did you really read them in original Polish language? Great.
    Wojteczko, I support Etcetera's advice but...I have just written here about Polish pronunciation:
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Seana
    (...) it could be often heart that Polish language is very difficult for foreign ear. (...) Polish language sounds as the rushing steam engine, of which bars are passed round between different hissing sounds, from soft „ ć” to hard „ cz”. For the foreigner completely inconceivable. (...)
     

    Victoriya

    New Member
    Russian/Ukrainian - USA
    POLISH if you're looking for the eaisest way. Why?
    1st - pronounciation - beautiful and easier than the other two
    2nd - you don't need Cyrillic!!!
    3rd - some word are very similar with English!
    4th - you'll find more helpful literature and more natiev speakers to help you in your studies.
    Ukrainian...well ...why would you need it if even Ukrainians living in US don't speak it.. and Czech is hard.
     

    matineeidol

    Member
    English/England
    wojteczko98 said:
    Thanks a lot! I started out learning Ukrainian, (I am Ukrainian and Polish) but also started an interest in Czech too. Guess I'll have to choose!!
    hi, i think with this in mind, you should choose ukrainan or polish, and as has been mentioned about the roman alphabet too.

    I did a german GCSE once and one of the girls on my course was starting to learn german. She later said that her grandparents were german and when she was a baby she lived in germany. My german tutor pointed out that she would probably have an easier time learning german, even though she knew next to nothing, simply because he believed that somewhere in the recesses of her brain, she was "used" to hearing german and being around german speakers and it was one of the first languages she heard. So in fact it wasnt "foreign" to her at all- he believed that the german was locked in her brain somewhere, and if she continued to learn, shed remember it.

    I know some polish, because my grandparents were polish and I'm used tohearing it spoken. I get a different feeling from hearing polish than say i do if i hear italian or french; that's to say that it doesn't sound "foreign" to me- my ears are used to hearing it.

    It's an odd thing for me to explain, i don't know if you were ever exposed to polish, but say somebody came up to me and spoke to me in greek- i'd "hear" a foreign language rather than the words. i'm only just getting to a point now in french where say, if i turn the french tv on, i can relax and hear the language and get the meaning even if i don't understand bits, rather than think "aarrghh! its in french, i gotta work out what this means!! aarrghh! what are they saying?" its all about being used to hearing the language around you, i think thats part of the battle when youre learning the language. even though my polish isnt very good, i can still learn more when i go to poland, because i'm not panicking about it being foreign or alien to me.

    I've ranted on, but i hope you know what i mean! also, hopefully if you are polish, you will be able to naturally develop a good accent too, which is another problem people learning languages have. Even though my italian is rubbish and my polish is rubbish too, i'm still more inclined to go and speak it because its LOADS better than my french accent!
     

    paluszak

    Member
    Poland (Polish)
    Victoriya said:
    POLISH if you're looking for the eaisest way. Why?
    1st - pronounciation - beautiful and easier than the other two
    Well, I wouldn't agree, Polish pronounciation is much more complicated than Russian, Ukrainian or Czech, even for other Slavic speakers. I remember trying to teach a Russian friend of mine the difference between ś (very soft s, much softer than сь) and sz (Russian ш) or how to pronouce ą (nasal o).

    What's easier in Polish, it's that it doesn't have long and short vowels, so it's easier than Czech in this regard, and it has a fixed (penultimate) accent - learning Russian accentuation patterns is a real pain.

    2nd - you don't need Cyrillic!!!
    3rd - some word are very similar with English!
    That's true, there's a lot of Latin and French words in Polish, probably because Latin was used in Poland much longer than in most of Western European countries, except the Vatican, of course. ;)

    4th - you'll find more helpful literature and more natiev speakers to help you in your studies.
    Ukrainian...well ...why would you need it if even Ukrainians living in US don't speak it.. and Czech is hard.
    Czech is not so difficult, I'd say that the Czech grammar is easier than Polish. And about Ukrainian it's completely untrue, Western and some Central regions of Ukraine speak Ukrainian, and in some parts of West Ukraine people simply refuse to speak Russian - they reply in Ukrainian if you speak Russian, if they bother to reply at all.
     

    wojteczko98

    New Member
    USA, English
    I am fairly good at pronounciation, but what is really scaring me is the grammar. I know all slavic languages have difficult grammar, but is it harder in Ukrainian/Russian or Polish? If there is some way to measure the diffculty that is....1-10
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Given your original choices, I would pick Polish. Then I would be able to read Stanislaw Lem in the original. :)

    P.S. Hmm, but if I picked Czech I could read Milan Kundera! Undecided again. :confused:
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Outsider said:
    Given your original choices, I would pick Polish. Then I would be able to read Stanislaw Lem in the original. :)

    P.S. Hmm, but if I picked Czech I could read Milan Kundera! Undecided again. :confused:
    Going slightly off-topic: To read Kundera, you should rather learn French because that is the language he switched to in the early 1990s. :)

    Jana
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Jana337 said:
    Going slightly off-topic: To read Kundera, you should rather learn French because that is the language he switched to in the early 1990s. :)

    Jana
    Ok so learn Polish and you will stay in a Slavic languages group (I'm just trying not to drive people away from the Slavics). :)


    As for the question of the author I have no problems with Polish grammar (ok maybe sometimes :p ).


    Tom
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    wojteczko98 said:
    I am fairly good at pronounciation, but what is really scaring me is the grammar. I know all slavic languages have difficult grammar, but is it harder in Ukrainian/Russian or Polish? If there is some way to measure the diffculty that is....1-10
    To be honest, you can say they are all equally difficult (doesn't mean that the grammar is the same). That's my opinion, whatever other posters say.

    Fixed accent in Polish makes it somewhat easier but that's not the grammar point.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    werrr said:
    I think both plural (more usual!) and singular are correct.
    Officially, only the plural is correct. The singular is, however, quite common colloquially.
     
    Instead of making a new thread ill just ask my question here.... Im interested in learning Russian. I pick up languages pretty well ( I can speak english, spanish, and im working on some basic portuguese) and im wondering about Russian.

    Did anyone here learn Russian that has a base language of English???

    Im really interested but I need some advice on where to begin
     

    DareRyan

    Senior Member
    United States - English
    I am a new student to Slavic languages as well and have myself decided upon Russian. The main factors being I am familiar with the greek and Latin Alphabet which make Cyrillic look very familiar. Compounding this my second strongest language being Latin, I am used to declentions and most of the grammar rules I have come across are completely logical although not always simple. It is a beautiful language rich in culture and easy on the ear. I suggest it whole-heartedly!

    Best of luck
     
    Oh, I dont know. It looks like you have already got some particular reasons for selection as long as you have three languages left in the end for final choice. So Jana `s right: one needs to like the country and people and culture or have constant communication with somebody around. The bad thing about Ukranian is that one meets not so many speakers of it. And the vast majority of Ukrainians speak Russian as well, in fact, I have met more Ukrainians not speaking Ukrainian than those who spoke no Russian or probably preferred not to speak.
    You might want to read Shevchenko , of course:)

    For myself, I now opt for some less widespread Slavic tongues:) , like Bulgarian, Slovenian, Macedonian. Belarusian is extremely interesting, although it`s beyond me how they pronounce it. Actually, I have encountered a curious dialect or language spoken in the mountainous regions of Ukraine/moldova and it is Slavic, yes.
     

    ayupshiplad

    Senior Member
    Scotland, English
    And about Ukrainian it's completely untrue, Western and some Central regions of Ukraine speak Ukrainian, and in some parts of West Ukraine people simply refuse to speak Russian - they reply in Ukrainian if you speak Russian, if they bother to reply at all.
    Even if you are a poor foreigner and explain really apologetically that you can't speak Ukrainian? Would it be worse to speak in Russian than say, English? I would have thought at least if you speak in Russian you don't just seem like the ignorant and arrogant stereotypical English speaking traveller!

    Everyone keeps going on about how the grammar of Slavic languages is really difficult. I have heard that the grammar (in general) is quite similar to German's? Is this in anyway true?
     

    Insider

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    Ukrainian...well ...why would you need it if even Ukrainians living in US don't speak it..
    It depends on the American area which you take into consideration and it depends on type of people, too. For instance, in Ohio State there is a numerous amount of Ukrainians who immigrated from Western part of Ukraine - and they speak solely Ukrainian language. :)

    Perhaps, in such huge cities as NYC or LA where are plenty of Ukrainian Jews, and they don't communicate in Ukrainian, but in Russian since it's their mother tongue.
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    Even if you are a poor foreigner and explain really apologetically that you can't speak Ukrainian? Would it be worse to speak in Russian than say, English? I would have thought at least if you speak in Russian you don't just seem like the ignorant and arrogant stereotypical English speaking traveller!
    Well, unlike France and Spain, Ukraine has not had that much exposure to the "arrogant English-speaking" type. Simply put, should such a person wish to travel there, he/she would be s--t out of luck trying to make themselves understood in most of Western, or, for that matter, Eastern Ukraine.:D I think with a few exceptions, as a foreigner speaking Russian you wouldn't have any problems.
     

    Insider

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    You might want to read Shevchenko , of course:)
    Paradoxically, but this Ukrainian writer, known for his throughout life passion for independent Ukraine, was writing in Russian, too. :)

    Being more precise, the diary of his late years was written in Russian, plus if I'm not mistaken 9 stories as well. And, of course, daily conversations in Russia, since he lived in Saint Petersburg. And correspondence with Russian cultural and literary big shots such as Turgenev was in Russian. :)
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Well, I wouldn't agree, Polish pronounciation is much more complicated than Russian, Ukrainian or Czech, even for other Slavic speakers. I remember trying to teach a Russian friend of mine the difference between ś (very soft s, much softer than сь) and sz (Russian ш) or how to pronouce ą (nasal o).
    But Russian also has a bunch of consonants (15 or so) that come in hard/soft pairs, and in my experience, getting the palatalization of the soft ones right in pronunciation, let alone learning to recognize them when listening, is extremely difficult for just about any foreign learner, whether Slavic or not.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    Everyone keeps going on about how the grammar of Slavic languages is really difficult. I have heard that the grammar (in general) is quite similar to German's? Is this in anyway true?
    The grammar of any language is equally difficult to truly master (i.e. to learn it to a level approaching a native speaker). But in Slavic languages, the problem is that their complicated inflections make it impossible to say even the simplest sentences right without having mastered lots of complex grammar. In that regard, they are far more extreme than German, with much more irregular conjugations and declensions (on the other hand, unlike in German, you can normally guess the noun's gender from its form). There's also the issue of Slavic verbal aspects, which are nearly impossible to master if you're not a native speaker. Also, individual Slavic languages tend to have their specific extremely difficult issues, like for example the wildly irregular Russian stress.
     

    tkekte

    Senior Member
    Russian/Israel
    ayupshiplad said:
    I have heard that the grammar (in general) is quite similar to German's? Is this in anyway true?
    I would say it's more similar to Latin than to German.
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I would say it's more similar to Latin than to German.
    Well, the morphology of Slavic languages, while certainly very complex, is nowhere as complicated as Latin; I'd say it's somewhere halfway between German and Latin. On the other hand, once you get through the initial trouble of learning the declensions and conjugations, the syntactic difficulties that kick in are truly formidable, probably much worse than in Latin.

    If one's native language is Germanic or Romance, one is likely to encounter another huge difficulty with any Slavic language: the rather lousy semantic overlap between words. What I mean by this is that between Germanic and Romance languages, it's usually possible to precisely translate a word in a context-independent way, and even context-dependent translations are usually straightforward. On the other, Slavic languages often have groups of words with subtle shades of meaning without any equivalent in any Germanic or Romance language, which require long-winded explanations to pinpoint precisely, rather than simple dictionary entries. This will often be the case, for example, with a group of perfective verbs formed by adding different prefixes to the same imperfective verb.
     

    herrkommers

    New Member
    deutsch
    Hej guys,

    So I didn´t read aaaall the posts but the most of them and seriously it wasn´t necessary because, definitely, I agree with Paluszak.

    Polish pronounciation is pretty difficult! E.g: Trzy = three - if you pronounce it right, you may notice that the phonology it´s tough, mainly nasal songs.

    So, if you are able to speak russian, you will understand 50% ukrainian and this last language is much closer to polish than russian.

    Thus, I would say learn russian or learn all at the same time.
    It´s a good experience.
     
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