How similar are Serbian and Slovenian?

antoine_vchv

New Member
Bulgarian
As a native Bulgarian speaker both sound almost identical to me. What is their level of mutual intelligibility?
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    The intelligibility is very asymmetrical. Slovenians can understand Serbian quite well, and certainly become fluent with little study (I am a living example of it).

    Serbians cannot understand Slovenian very well because of our tendency to speak in dialects/regional variants in all but most formal occasions (our standard language is basically an artificial speech you need to learn in school), with wild sound developments and heavy vowel reduction. Our grammar is also a bit more complicated, for example the dual grammatical number, and a more varied plural declension.

    The vocabulary is also an obstacle. We tend to use loads of German/Italian loanwords in our everyday speech which just aren’t known to Serbians. If you revert to using the ‘official’, Slavic-root words, then intelligibility improves.

    Re: the writing system, most Slovenes cannot read Cyrillic. It was last taught in schools before 1990 (and then only for a year, according to my parents).
     

    Irbis

    Senior Member
    Slovenian, Slovenia
    I think that younger generations of Slovenians have much more problems understanding Serbian, since they were not exposed to Serbian/Croatian as children. It is not uncommon now to use English to talk to Serbians.
    I as a child watched cartoons on Belgrade and Zagreb TV channel, I was reading Serbian computer magazines and books as teenager, I can understand both Croatian and Serbian quite well, I still occasionally watch Croatian TV channels.
    But I cannot really read Cyrillic, with some guessing I can read a sentence, but it is slow process.
    And Cyrillic was thought in Slovenian schools only 5 months, not whole year (there was one year of Serbo-Croatian in primary school (5th class), first half was learning Croatian, the second half was learning Serbian, which came to almost just learning Cyrillic. I think I forgot the cursive Cyrillic the next day, the only thing I remember is that some letters were really strange in cursive Cyrillic.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    I, as a person from Serbia, always had this idea that Macedonian is completely mutually intelligible with Serbian (because I could understand it) but that Slovenian isn't. I thought that it was more distant from Serbian than Macedonian is.

    Until my early twenties when I stumbled upon a Slovenian TV show (it was a talk show) by accident and was very surprised when I could understand everything as if it was my own language.

    I haven't had much contact with colloquial/dialectal Slovenian so I don't know about that but I can understand spoken literary Slovenian pretty much 100%. Maybe I wouldn't understand a word here and there but I'd get it from context.

    But maybe I'm not the best example because my father is Slovak and I grew up bilingual with Slovak and Serbian and also I studied Russian at university.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    But maybe I'm not the best example because my father is Slovak and I grew up bilingual with Slovak and Serbian and also I studied Russian at university.

    Yes, this 100% gives you a lot of advantage over a normal Serbian monolingual person.
     

    Deseret13

    Senior Member
    Slovenian
    In my experience, Slovenians can undestand Serbo-Croatian quite well, but this is not the case the other way around. What is the reason for this one-sided intelligibility, I don't know.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    In my experience, Slovenians can undestand Serbo-Croatian quite well, but this is not the case the other way around. What is the reason for this one-sided intelligibility, I don't know.
    I believe it's because Slovenians are more exposed to Serbo-Croatian than Serbians/Croats/Bosniaks are to Slovenian. I'm a living example, I've pretty much never been exposed to Slovenian language until I was an adult.
     
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