Croatian/Russian

mimosa59

Senior Member
French (France)
Hi everyone!

I know the very basics of Russian and I'm thinking about learning Croatian now. How close are the two languages? Which one is easier to learn?

Thanks!
 
  • Angelo di fuoco

    Senior Member
    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    About as close as French and Portuguese, I'd say... we don't even use the same alphabet (the Croats use the Latin alphabet). We share the basics of grammar (extensive nominal flexion, some tenses - Croatian has more of them - and the all-important aspects), but the vocabulary is quite different and Croatian has the additional difficulty that it is a tonal language (a bit like Chinese, but not quite - and much more simple), i. e. some cases are differentiated only through rising/falling or some other tone - don't ask me, I don't know any Croatian - and don't grasp very much even in written texts, due to the lexical and grammatical differences.
    I'd say that, if you take only the grammar, Croatian is more difficult. Which language's phonetics (except the tonality) are more easy to learn for someone who speaks French as native language, I can't tell.
     

    Wikislav

    Member
    Croatian - Chakavian & Kaykavian
    Hi everyone! I know the very basics of Russian and I'm thinking about learning Croatian now. How close are the two languages? Which one is easier to learn? Thanks!
    It is a complex question, depending of your needs and intentions: Do you need to visit Croatia and directly communicate here with people, or you need only to read passively Croatian texts in print and internet. For the French knowing somewhat Russian, this is hardly help to understand the official Croatian standard being rather divergent from Russian: somewhat as distance of French and Rumanian (both Romance group but different).

    In case of direct visits, it is not obligatory to learn formal Croat standard (spoken by 2/5 Croats + administration), because in other half of Croatia you can well pass knowing French or Russian: 1/3 of north-western Croats around Zagreb and 1/2 of that city speak the divergent Kaykavian "dialect" being the closest to Russian among South Slavs. Thus, Russian tourists and businessmen coming in Zagreb and surroundings (or Kaykavians coming in Russia) can well communicate without a glossary.

    On the other hand, by visiting Adriatic coast and islands you can well pass with your French + Russian, because there is spoken also divergent Chakavian dialect with many Romance words (1/4 to 2/5 words), and the rest ones are similar to Russian. Even their accentuation is nearly the French one with almost ending stress (bolded),- examples unerstandable without translation (Slavic orthography is only different): amôr, antýk, dekôr, destýn, duplýn, epûr, kolûr, patrôn, paýs, ...etc. This is somewhat as a French-Russian "hybrid" in coast and islands. Especially the Adriatic islanders may be comprehensible to you because these ones speak often simply without Slavic palatals (not: č, š, ž, đ, lj ...).
     
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    VelikiMag

    Senior Member
    Serbian - Montenegro
    Can anyone tell me more about the tones?

    It has to do with length of a stressed syllable. Unlike Russian where stressed syllable is always long, in Croatian it can be both long and short. It is not something you can learn from a book or by looking in a dictionary, cause unlike Russian dictionaries, stress marks aren't written. Generally speaking, you can learn proper tone only by listening to spoken Croatian and talking with people.
    Good thing is, however, improper tone and stress aren't as big mistake as it would be in Russian and you would be understood as well. Tones are something that enables the native speakers to distinguish people from different areas who speak with different accant or dialect. So I would say that you as a foreigner shouldn't be so worried about tones. If you are serious about learning Croatian, it will come to you over time.
     

    Duya

    Senior Member
    Whatever
    As a bonus, if you learn Croatian, you can add 4-5 more languages (Serbian, ...) to your CV :)

    I've touched on tones here, though we probably have a longer thread around. Some more information on Wikipedia. However, as a learner at an early stage, you should not be concerned much with them.
     

    vianie

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Especially the Adriatic islanders may be comprehensible to you because these ones speak often simply without Slavic palatals (not: č, š, ž, đ, lj ...).

    This is like the Polish mazurzenie.

    As a bonus, if you learn Croatian, you can add 4-5 more languages (Serbian, ...) to your CV :)

    Five? Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and ... :confused:
    According to this criterion, the most profitable language among the South Slavic languages group, mostly due to its central position in there, is just Serbian.
     
    Five? Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and ... :confused:
    There was talk a couple of years back about Bunjevci (a Catholic minority in the north of Vojvodina, Serbia) introducing bunjevački into their schools. Their vernacular is Ikavian, and I don't know how far they've gone with the standardization. They're a small minority and there's somewhat of a political tension regarding that. Part of Bunjevci consider themselves an ethnic group of Croats and don't like the idea of a separate bunjevački language, and some Croats consider those who do as 'confused Croats' and whatnot. Anyway, if it ever gets fully standardized it would be the fifth standard used locally and the only one using Ikavian as its basis.

    Another potential candidate might be goranski in the south of Kosovo, they speak something in between Serbian and Macedonian. Part of them now identify as Bosniaks and their language as Bosnian (they are Muslim), part of them identify as simply Goranci and their language as Serbian or goranski/naški. As far as I know they are also 'claimed' by Macedonians and Bulgarians, and in a way by Albanians as well, as they live surrounded by Albanians. :) They are however even fewer in number than Bunjevci.

    According to this criterion, the most profitable language among the South Slavic languages group, mostly due to its central position in there, is just Serbian.
    Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Foreigners should be ok, since most of them, especially those who come outside South Slavic speaking areas, almost never get to a near-native competency level. However, given the recent Gotovina trial and verdict I suspect that some ekavian (and possibly also ijekavian) Serbian speakers visiting Croatia or parts of B-H might run into some...troubles...in the coming months.

    It might be nothing, but the reception of one standard language among the speakers of others is tied to the general political climate here. In any case, if you do try to use one when speaking with speakers of other standards, make sure to identify yourself as a Slovak, that way you should be safer.
     
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    el_tigre

    Senior Member
    Croatian(štokavski+čakavski)
    About as close as French and Portuguese,

    Well, I'd say that comparison between phonology Croatian-Russian would be more like Spanish-French.

    Croatian phonology is much easier. I think the Russian is the hardest Slavic one. Just like French is hardest Romance one. Apart from Phonology I notice a certain lexical siimilarity that makes them mutually inteligible.
     

    rdimd

    Member
    Latvian, Slow Russian
    In case of direct visits, it is not obligatory to learn formal Croat standard (spoken by 2/5 Croats + administration), because in other half of Croatia you can well pass knowing French or Russian: 1/3 of north-western Croats around Zagreb and 1/2 of that city speak the divergent Kaykavian "dialect" being the closest to Russian among South Slavs. Thus, Russian tourists and businessmen coming in Zagreb and surroundings (or Kaykavians coming in Russia) can well communicate without a glossary.
    As far as I understand, Kaykavian is even closer to Russian than Bulgarian dialects? It seemed to me that Bulgarian literary language is so close to Russian that I wanted to ask why is it so close.
    Does that mean that Bulgarian literary language is built to be similar to Russian?
     

    Orlin

    Banned
    български
    as far as i understand, kaykavian is even closer to russian than bulgarian dialects? It seemed to me that bulgarian literary language is so close to russian that i wanted to ask why is it so close.
    Does that mean that bulgarian literary language is built to be similar to russian?
    По-моему это офф топик здесь, но я попробую объяснить: взаимное влияние между болгарским и русским языками довольно сильно из-за важных исторических причин, но не думаю, что кто-нибудь имел намерение сознательно сблизить эти 2 языка. Все наверное произошло совсем естественно.
     

    Wikislav

    Member
    Croatian - Chakavian & Kaykavian
    As far as I understand, Kaykavian is even closer to Russian than Bulgarian dialects? It seemed to me that Bulgarian literary language is so close to Russian that I wanted to ask why is it so close.
    Does that mean that Bulgarian literary language is built to be similar to Russian?
    During the official standardizing phase (18th/19th century) of national languages in eastern and southern Slavs, the old Church-Slavonic had more or less important influences, and this one was the nearest to recent Bulgarian and Macedonian. Its impact was very important in standardizing reformed Russian, and so recent Russian via Church-Slavonic became closer to Bulgarian. On the other hand, that process was rather inverse in orthodox Serbia, where the former nonstandard urban language was closer to Church-Slavonic, but then the reformed standard by V.Karadžić prefered to use the live vernacular speech, and so recent Serbian diverged both from Russian and Church-Slavonic.

    In Croatia, partly a third standardizing model was prefered imitating German patterns, due to half-millenium ruling of Austrian empire there. Therefore, the Croatian standardizing was formally based on a rural speech from south-eastern Bosnia, but the live vernacular speech of average Croats was almost neglected and the subsequent creation of mostly artificial language with many new complex compounds (after German pattern) was prefered. Therefore really, such Bosnian-based standard filled by much artifical words, for the majority of 93% Croats is not a native mother tongue (except in eastern Croatia's margins at Dubrovnik and Osijek towns), and they mostly teach that divergent standard from the schools only.

    The Russian-Kaykavian similarity in northern Croats is due chiefly to a strong archaism of the Kaykavian alone, persisting up todays almost on a medieval level. The Church-Slavonic and direct Russian impacts on Kaykavian were minimal, because during a millenium Kaykavians had Latin-Catholic liturgy and scarce correlations with Russia. Kaykavian is used by 1/3 (31%) or 1,450,000 north-western Croats including Zagreb capital and other dozen towns, and it is the most divergent from that artificial Croatian standard. Kaykavian is now justly in way of new standardizing including dozen major dictionaries published, a new grammar and full scientific terminology to be functional as any other European languages.
     

    Orlin

    Banned
    български
    Da bi topicstarter mogao sam ocijeniti koliko su ruski i hrvatski slični/različiti, probat ću napisati nešto na hrvatskom po temi, i zamolio bih druge forumaše isto nešto dodati ukoliko je to moguće.:)
    Pošto su po meni ruski i hrvatski dovoljno slični ali s relativno velikim razlikama na skoro svim strukturnim razinama jezika, preporučio bih topicstarteru naučiti hrvatski barem na početnom nivou ako planira posjetiti Hrvatsku - bit će mu mnogo lakše nego u slučaju da računa samo na svoje znanje ruskog.
    Po meni je zaključak takav ne samo s ovog čisto praktičnog gledišta nego i radi ljubaznosti prema hrvatskim stanovnicima - uvijek i svagdje je značajno bolje truditi se govoriti jezik lokalnih ukoliko je to moguće.
     
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    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    They are very different. In an average Russian song (3minutes), one can understand some isolated words and one complete sentence. I speak Slovenian and Čakavian Croatian (which is closer to Old Slavonic than the standard one), and the difference are comparable to those between Brazilian Portuguese and French.

    What I understood from some Alsou/s songs:

    Zimnij son (Zimski san):
    1. nastupila zima
    2. na zemlju tiha spustila se zima
    3. sama
    4. bijela i snježna
    5. nježna

    Snyeg (Snijeg)
    1. meni hladno (mnje holadna)
    2. snijeg
    3. zvijezdi
    4. ptici

    Vesna (Proljeće)
    1. Sinje je sinje je morje
    2. Čisto je nebo (Čista je njeba)
    3. Tiha je pjesma slučajna
    4. Tajna



    As you can see, only a few words in 3 min. songs.
    Russian pronunciation is tricky, just like the French one, while SouthSlavic is more like Spanish.

    Listen to these songs and tell me if you can understand some more. :)
    Most Štokavians claim they cannot understand Slovenian, so Russian will be a mission impossible for them.
    On the other hand, Kajkavians and Čakavians understand Slovenian with no problems. :)
     
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    Sup s kotom

    Member
    English
    MOD NOTE: The following few posts have been moved here from another thread.

    Hey, everyone.

    Over the past couple months, I've become increasingly interested in learning Croatian as a possible supplementary language to Russian. I know that all Slavic languages derive from a common ancestor, but I've still heard that these two languages vary significantly in pronunciation, grammar and the like. Could anyone enlighten me on the subject?
     
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    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    I think it is a question that is too broad.

    First of, Croatian (as well as Bulgarian) is South Slavic, whereas Russian (as well as Belorussian and Ukrainian) are Eastern Slavic. In essence, it is more or less the same as Serbian language. They are two subvarieties of Serbo-Croatian language. Also Croats use Latin alphabet whereas Serbs use Cyrillic.

    The similarities include, for instance, common roots, cases system for nouns etc.
    But, say, Bulgarian, which is also South Slavic, does not have cases for nouns - it has them for pronouns only.

    Being fully fluent in one language you will be able to read and understand some 60-70% of the other one, but you won't be able to speak it or comprehend the speech.

    I advise you look in Wikipedia, if you interested.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Croatian_language
     

    Sup s kotom

    Member
    English
    I forgot to specify this initially: what I'm asking is not if my existing knowledge of Russian will allow me to understand Croatian (or, by extension, the whole BCS spectrum), but rather if Russian is similar enough that it could be a gateway to learning Croatian. I'm hoping that learning Croatian will come naturally to me if my skill in Russian is sufficiently developed.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    ... but rather if Russian is similar enough that it could be a gateway to learning Croatian. I'm hoping that learning Croatian will come naturally to me if my skill in Russian is sufficiently developed.

    It may be. However I have to warn you - languages that are relatives actually often make a person confused, and he may start using the words from another language. You will have to learn how to totally switch off Russian and switch on Croatian.

    Personally I can tell you that with Russian being my native tongue, I can reasonably understand most Slavic languages in the written form, to the degree of extracting essential (and enough of non-essential) information, up to 70-80%. But I won't understand spoken, or at least won't understand most of it, picking up some familiar-sounding words.

    However, once seeing the written text and understanding it, I will easily remember it, and all the words in it.

    Learning relative languages is harder than learning unrelated ones - this I am sure of.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I forgot to specify this initially: what I'm asking is not if my existing knowledge of Russian will allow me to understand Croatian (or, by extension, the whole BCS spectrum), but rather if Russian is similar enough that it could be a gateway to learning Croatian. I'm hoping that learning Croatian will come naturally to me if my skill in Russian is sufficiently developed.
    All of the Slavic languages are gateways to each other, just make sure you don't study several of them simultaneously, as you will mix them up horribly.
     

    VelikiMag

    Senior Member
    Serbian - Montenegro
    There have been many topics regarding similarities between Russian and BSC languages in Other Slavic Languages so I advise you go through them first.
    Briefly to answer your question, these languages are not mutually intelligible to a degree where conversation would be possible. Which means that one has to have some knowledge of the other language in order to understand its spoken form. Grammar is quite similar, vocabulary is more or less, pronounciation however is different. Knowing Russian definitely helps, but the approach to Croatian should be as if it was any other language. Because comparing them with each other can sometimes make quite a big confusion in your head.
    And yes, it's not so good idea to learn them simultaneously.
     

    Sup s kotom

    Member
    English
    Yeah, I assumed that trying to learn two Slavic languages at once would quickly get confusing. If I learn Russia until I'm close to the fluency of a native, I'll probably pick up another Slavic language such as Croatian in addition.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    What is the best way to approach Croatian if you have studied Russian.
    I have glanced at Croatian for an upcoming trip and can pick out quite a bit of vocabulary because of Russian but I have a feeling I could make a mess of things.
    Is there a method that compares the two?
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I have glanced at Croatian for an upcoming trip and can pick out quite a bit of vocabulary because of Russian but I have a feeling I could make a mess of things.
    Yes, there are a lot of false friends, of course. Knowing some phonetic shifts may arguably help but doesn't remove the problem itself (as the false friends include actual cognates; cf. Rus. prolív "strait" vs. BCS proliv "diarrhea", or Rus. pozór "shame, disgrace" vs. BCS pozor "attention").
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Yes, there are a lot of false friends, of course. Knowing some phonetic shifts may arguably help but doesn't remove the problem itself (as the false friends include actual cognates; cf. Rus. prolív "strait" vs. BCS proliv "diarrhea", or Rus. pozór "shame, disgrace" vs. BCS pozor "attention").
    Do you know of a source that informs on these phonemic shifts? For example, there are many sites that show the shifts in high German which are useful to distinguish it from Dutch.
    I will probably just stick to conversational vocabulary so most of these false friends aren't that important.
    I have already pinpointed some differences like Croatian first person verb conjugations have -m. The different vowels do make it hard though. Dobar Dan versus Dobriy D'en', for instance.
    At any rate the proximity of the two does make the learning process speed up.
     

    dihydrogen monoxide

    Senior Member
    Slovene, Serbo-Croat
    Except two (very common) verbs: mogu (I can) and hoću (I want) (and its negative neću (I don’t want)).



    A good starting point is here, under ‘dialectal differentiation’.

    -u is a remnant from Old Church Slavonic. Old Church Slavonic if I remember had only three verbs that were conjugated with -mi.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    -u is a remnant from Old Church Slavonic. Old Church Slavonic if I remember had only three verbs that were conjugated with -mi.

    There were five athematic verbs in Proto-Slavic: jesm, imam, dam, věm, jěm. The rest had nasal -o.

    Interestingly, the -m ending has completely displaced the -o one in Slovenian, Slovak and Macedonian.
     
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