Distinguishing Ukrainian & Belarusian from Russian (upon hearing)

MarX

Banned
Indonesian, Indonesia
Hello!

I think almost everybody can easily distinguish Ukrainian from Russian in writing due to some different letters, yet do you have any tips how to distinguish Ukrainian from Russian when you hear them?

How about Belarusian?
Does it have some different letters than Russian too?
Is it harder to distinguish Belarusian than Ukrainian from Russian upon hearing?
Any tips?

Cheers!
 
  • Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I think almost everybody can easily distinguish Ukrainian from Russian in writing due to some different letters, yet do you have any tips how to distinguish Ukrainian from Russian when you hear them?
    The most prominent difference I can hear between Ukrainian and Russian is the pronunciation of unstressed o. In Russian, this vowel is reduced to a sound similar to a short a or a schwa, but in Ukrainian, it's pronounced as a clear o. So if you can hear a clear unstressed [o], it's Ukrainian.

    Another difference is the pronunciation of the letter Г. In Russian, it's pronounced similar to, say, g in great, whereas in Ukrainian, it's pronounced similar to h in behind. There are many similar words that differ only in this sound.
     
    How about Belarusian?
    Does it have some different letters than Russian too?
    In its written form Belarusian has some additional letters as compared to the Russian alphabet on one hand and lacks some others on the other.

    Russian letter "и" corresponds to its Belarusian counterpart "i".
    Russian letter "щ" cannot be found in Belarusian, although Belarusian "шч" can be an approximation (it still does not sound a single consonant).
    Belarusian "ў" cannot be found in Russian alphabet (and neither corresponding sound) and you may notice that Belarusians tend to use it where Russians expect to see/hear "л"/"в"/"у" (Russian "волк" = Belarusian "воўк").
    Belarusian alphabet contains two special digraphs "дж" and "дз" which form single consonants specific to Belarusian language.

    Athaulf's notice regarding "г" applies fully to Belarusian pronunciation (it is the same as in Ukrainian). Unstressed "о" and "ё" are not possible in Belarusian, though - unstressed "о" turns into "а" both in writing and vocally: конь (nominative: a horse), каню (dative: to a horse), stressed vowels are marked with bold here.

    Also, pay attention to how "ч" is pronounced in Russian (softer) and Belarusian (harder): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvYxZpl7V5k&feature=related
     
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    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Fricative "г" is also peculiar for the South-Russian patois, while discerning between unstressed "о" and "a" (after hard consonants) - for the Northern-Russian one. So both criteria are to be taken into account.
     

    WannaBeMe

    Senior Member
    Serbian (ijekavian)
    I would say the best way to distinguish Ukrainian from Russian is to pay atention to grammar, promounciation of "jat" and stressed "o".
    1) stressed "o" -->( rus-ukr) nos-nis, tvoj-tvij;
    2) Declension endings of Ukr. are more similar to Slovak and Polish (you can visit wikipedia to see it)
    2) Conjugation endings are more similar to them of South-Slavic lang. (infinitiv on -TI...)
    3) Future with MATI in Ukr.
    4) Some words that are common in Ukr,Belorussian,Polish,BCS... doesn´t exist in Russian
    5)Pronounciation of "jat"- bjeli- bili; mjesto-misto;

    That´s all I can remember
     

    Athaulf

    Senior Member
    Croatian/Bosnia, Croatia
    I've just listened to some Ukrainian music, and I noticed another easily recognizable difference from Russian: the 3rd person singular present of verbs. In Russian, these verb forms end in hard (non-palatalized) /t/, whereas in Ukrainian, they end in soft /tʲ/. For example, in Russian it's он лежит, whereas in Ukrainian it's он лежить.
     

    Natabka

    Senior Member
    Ukraine (Ukrainian)
    Hi, foreros!
    Let me make a few remarks too:D.

    Another difference is the pronunciation of the letter Г. In Russian, it's pronounced similar to, say, g in great, whereas in Ukrainian, it's pronounced similar to h in behind. There are many similar words that differ only in this sound.
    I haven't heard sound [g] in Belorussian, but in Ukrainian it does exist. I would repeat Athaulf's words about many Ukrainian words that differ from Russian in sound -[g]. But there are also words with letter ґ which sounds like [g] in great.

    And here a quote from Panda Nocta's post:

    Russian letter "и" corresponds to its Belarusian counterpart "i".
    ...
    Belarusian "ў" cannot be found in Russian alphabet (and neither corresponding sound) ...
    ...
    Belarusian alphabet contains two special digraphs "дж" and "дз" which form single consonants specific to Belarusian language.
    The letters "и" (rus) - "і" (belorus) - "і" (ukr) sounds all the same in the three languages.
    Does Belorussian "ў" sounds similar to "w" in English?
    Ukrainian also has "дж" and "дз", they are read as a single sound but they do not represent separate letters and do not have separate entries in dictionaries. So, I am now curious: are they separate letters in Belorussian?

    And the last thing:
    WannaBeMe wrote that there's

    3) Future with MATI in Ukr.

    What do you mean? Can you give an example?
     

    cyanista

    законодательница мод
    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    I haven't heard sound [g] in Belorussian, but in Ukrainian it does exist.
    Yes, we've got the same fricative "g", which to me is one of the most striking differences between RU and BY. The above mentiioned "hard ch" is another one.

    Natabka said:
    Does Belorussian "ў" sounds similar to "w" in English?
    It's the same sound, I believe.
    Natabka said:
    Ukrainian also has "дж" and "дз", they are read as a single sound but they do not represent separate letters and do not have separate entries in dictionaries. So, I am now curious: are they separate letters in Belorussian?
    Well... they are listed as separate letters in the alphabet but do not hae theit own entries in dictionaries, obviously because there are few words beginning with these letters.

    For more information just see the Wiki article "Belarusian phonology" in English, Russian or Belarusian. You can also listen to the pronunciation of separate words on Wiki Commons.
     
    Due to a strong accent of some people one can easily fail to correctly determine whether they are speaking Belarusian or not by mere means of phonetics. One of the most noticeable examples here is the current president of Republic of Belarus. His well-known phrase [in Russian] "Я регулярно ператрахиваю все кадры и точно знаю, кто врот, а кто не врот!" sounds so distorted that Russians can interpret it like "I regularly f*ck the [government] officials so I know for sure who of them can do some blow-job" whereas it is supposed to be "I regularly check the [government] officials so I know for sure who of them lies".
     
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    WannaBeMe

    Senior Member
    Serbian (ijekavian)
    Future tense of перекладати -- to translate
    infinitiv plus present of "мaти"
    Я перекладатиму (I will translate/ will be translating)
    Ти перекладатимеш
    Він
    Вона перекладатиме
    Воно
    Ми перекладатимемо
    Ви перекладатимете
    Вони перекладатимуть

    The using of this form is identical to the other with "Я буду перекладати, etc."
     

    Kolan

    Banned
    Russian (CCCP)
    I would say, based on my personal experience, that both standard Russian and Belorussian are nearly 100% mutually intellegible upon hearing, and such a difference between them is much less (more negligeable) than that of Western and Eastern Armenian or even Quebec and metropolitan French.
     
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    Xopxe

    Member
    Russian
    Generally in Russian language soft consonants are used more intensively. Compare: translate in Russian pyeryevyesti and in Urainian pereklasty.

    But is would be better to practice auditing Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking radio stations. срадио.ру (I`m not allowed to post links, sorry for Cyrrilics) has a good list of online radio boadcasters.
     
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