Slavic languages for the foreigners

boboxe

New Member
English/Polski
I meet new people all the time, and they often ask me (online) what Polish or Russian sounds like. It's hard to describe, and am wondering if you people can help me out.

For example how can I explain these different types of languages to people:
Romace:
Germanic:
Slavic:

Help!
 
  • Sorry, but your question is not quite clear. You can only explain what a language sounds like by either demonstrating it or giving somebody a sample to hear.
    As for the language families, well, there is a standard scientific definition there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_families
    I would describe both Polish and Russian as having a large number of hissing sounds as compared to other languages.
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    A friend of mine told me he thought Russian sounded sort of incomplete, as though the speakers never said the complete words, but stopped them in their throats.

    But of course, if they want to hear the language being spoken, there are plenty of online radios out there where you can listen to natives speaking.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    [...]
    I would describe both Polish and Russian as having a large number of hissing sounds as compared to other languages.
    This is what my American friends told me too. They didn't differentiate betwen Polish and Russian as they sound the same for them.

    Tom
     

    Bazhena

    Member
    Russian, Russian Federation
    To boboxe: I guess I get what you mean and would be happy to help you, if I could. But since Russian is my mother tongue, I can’t feel its “peculiar taste”: I don’t hear Russian as separate sounds, but as meaningful words.

    But as for Polish, I could share my feelings with you. For the Russian ear it’s a language of “дж” (“dzh”), “пш” (“psh”), “шт” (“sht”) –like sounds. Yes, to us it’s hissing, as Setwale put it. Very hissing. The “hissiest” language in the world, totally unlike Russian :) To us Russian doesn't sound hissing at all!
     

    boboxe

    New Member
    English/Polski
    Hehe dzieki! Wiem, Polski jest taki szybki język, ale jak można koledze wytłumaczyć Niemiecki albo Rumuński?

    Yes, that's what I mean Bazhena! It's true people think Polish is like rustling leaves, very quick, a lot of psh, sh, ch. What about the Germanic languages and Romance ones?
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    To boboxe: I guess I get what you mean and would be happy to help you, if I could. But since Russian is my mother tongue, I can’t feel its “peculiar taste”: I don’t hear Russian as separate sounds, but as meaningful words.

    But as for Polish, I could share my feelings with you. For the Russian ear it’s a language of “дж” (“dzh”), “пш” (“psh”), “шт” (“sht”) –like sounds. Yes, to us it’s hissing, as Setwale put it. Very hissing. The “hissiest” language in the world, totally unlike Russian :) To us Russian doesn't sound hissing at all!
    No... do you really think so? I've always thought it is Russian ... :)

    Hehe dzieki! Wiem, Polski jest taki szybki język, ale jak można koledze wytłumaczyć Niemiecki albo Rumuński?

    Yes, that's what I mean Bazhena! It's true people think Polish is like rustling leaves, very quick, a lot of psh, sh, ch. What about the Germanic languages and Romance ones?
    Since you're asking about Germanic languages I'll try to tell you what I observed when I learned English:
    you don't pronounce many of sounds which is very strange for a Polish who's attempting to learn English. More over, you pronounce words differently from what is written on a piece of paper. You pronounce them differently when you enunciate one word and while speaking (especially quickly). As one forer@ said in the English Only forum English pronunciation is quirky. ;)

    As to German it sounds hard to me. French is characteristic for its r.

    One more thing, it is importnat (if not crucial) to know that people come across different problems learning the same language and they speak different languages as thei mother tongues, for instance:
    if they learn Polish English students have different problems from Spanish ones and form Japanese ones, etc.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    But as for Polish, I could share my feelings with you. For the Russian ear it’s a language of “дж” (“dzh”), “пш” (“psh”), “шт” (“sht”) –like sounds. Yes, to us it’s hissing, as Setwale put it. Very hissing.
    I agree. :)

    And Russian sounds - however absurd it might sound from a Czech :D - like a language without vowels. :) Unstressed vowels almost pale into insignificance.

    Jana
     

    Bazhena

    Member
    Russian, Russian Federation
    Jana: Thanks, it was very interesting to learn your opinion.

    As far as I know, we don’t have an exact sound image of the Czech language in our mind. Czech is a language that sounds similar to Russian, but you can’t understand it. Maybe a little bit hissing, but definitely not as hissing as Polish.

    While we are on this “hissing” subject, another hissing language is Portuguese of Portugal: lots of "sh”.

    German language is a harsh one. Many Russians don’t like how it sounds.

    But they like how Italian and French sound. Russians consider them very melodious languages.
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    ...And Russian sounds - however absurd it might sound from a Czech :D - like a language without vowels. :) Unstressed vowels almost pale into insignificance...
    ...and since for us Bulgarian looks like Russian without most of the vowels, I'm even scared to ask how you describe Bulgarian or Serbian...:D
     
    To boboxe: I guess I get what you mean and would be happy to help you, if I could. But since Russian is my mother tongue, I can’t feel its “peculiar taste”: I don’t hear Russian as separate sounds, but as meaningful words.
    You can achieve it to an extent by surrouding yourself with a foreign language for a while. Your ears will get accustomed to it and lose a bit of the habit with your mothertongue. It will first sound foreign to you afterwards.
     

    boboxe

    New Member
    English/Polski
    Thanks for your help everyone, much appriciated!

    Yes, Russian is very different they seem to put emphasis in weird places. Czesc is just a fun language to listen to, because it SOUNDS like Polish.. but you can't understand a thing!

    About learning a foreign language with a different native tounge. SO TRUE! I live in the US, and am taking French in my highschool. English was the first language I learned to read/write, but I always spoke Polish at home with my parents. Learning French isn't fun, I always seem to pronounce every letter of the word like in Polish, my R's are usually the Polish r instead of the French nasal r.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    русский (Russian)
    It all depends on the speaker too. I enjoy songs in all Slavic languages. Polish has considerably more hissing sounds, that's true but I like the sound of it and I don't think teh hissing sounds dominate in it. Czech and Slovak songs are very melodical because of the number of long vowels.

    Not sure why Russian sounds like a language without vowels to Jana (I think it's a joke), well we don't stretch as long but many languages don't either.
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Not sure why Russian sounds like a language without vowels to Jana (I think it's a joke), well we don't stretch as long but many languages don't either.
    No, it is not a joke at all. :) Well, tongue-in-cheek.

    It's simply because I compare Russian to Czech. We use vowels less frequently than some learners of Czech would like us to, but at least all of those we use are open and clearly pronounced, many even long. Russian has no long vowels and the unstressed ones are very closed.

    E.g. when you say невозможный, I hear ň-v-z-muož-nj. OK, this is a caricature but could a native record the word and attach it here? I could do the same with the "Czech pronunciation" of the word. :)

    Jana
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    The only people who think German is harsh-sounding are those who don't speak it. :)
     
    How can German sound hard? :confused: I mean, we have this French r, Italian zz and a lot of vowels - what d'you want more? :D


    OK, why I was posting this - I've recorded 'unpossible one' thingy as jana requested, (as good as I could :D) Well, jana could you maybe pretty please with sugar on top let us hear the famous "stuck your finger through your throat on thursday" (correct?) saying in Czech? :p pleeease!
     

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    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    Your file kind of confirmed my suspicion. :)
    "stuck your finger through your throat on Thursday"
    No, not on Thursday. It is a hard word (čtvrtek) but it would ruin it because it contains a vowel.

    Moral is lost in this thread anyway, so here's strč prst skrz krk. :)
     

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    Crescent

    Senior Member
    Russian, (Ukraine)
    Funnily enough, I think that many Germans would describe Russian as a relatively harsh sounding language...

    Really?:eek: I was going to say the same thing but about German. I guess it right what you say - we think German sounds ''rough and harsh'' because we don't speak it.
    But I would never in the world say that Russian is harsh to the ear.. :confused: Obviously, it depends how you speak it, but generally all of our sounds are baby-soft.. :p :D We have no particularly ear-splitting r's like in French, no J or G like the Spaniards.. and we even have a beautiful мягкий знак to make our speech even more sugar-coated! :p
    Another thing I've noticed about Russian compared to many other languages, is how pure it is. I can't explain it very well, but to me it sounds just like...crystal clear water, like something really refined and polished.. I don't know why.. maybe I'm just judging by the way I speak.
    (Oооpsie, well..I'm certainly not going to die of modesty...:eek::rolleyes::p)
     

    Lemminkäinen

    Senior Member
    Norwegian (bokmål)
    Moral is lost in this thread anyway, so here's strč prst skrz krk. :)

    You Czech people should really go knocking on the door of the Fins; I'm sure they have plenty of vowels you could borrow :D

    Crescent said:
    Another thing I've noticed about Russian compared to many other languages, is how pure it is. I can't explain it very well, but to me it sounds just like...crystal clear water, like something really refined and polished.. I don't know why.. maybe I'm just judging by the way I speak.

    That's how I feel about Norwegian, so perhaps it's just the way native speakers feel about their language?

    FWIW, before I started studying Russian I thought it sounded a bit harsh, just as German. Don't ask me why, it just seemed that way.
    Anyway, I've later recanted my opinions for both of the languages - Czech have been awarded the dubious honour from now on :D
     

    Marijka

    Member
    Polish/Poland
    But as for Polish, I could share my feelings with you. For the Russian ear it’s a language of “дж” (“dzh”), “пш” (“psh”), “шт” (“sht”) –like sounds. Yes, to us it’s hissing, as Setwale put it. Very hissing. The “hissiest” language in the world, totally unlike Russian :) To us Russian doesn't sound hissing at all!

    That's exactly what people from England and Germany told me, when I said : W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" and "W czasie suszy szosa sucha" :)
    For those, who want to hear it :) -> speech synthesizer http://www.ivo.pl/index.php?option=com_ivonaonline&Itemid=38
     

    boboxe

    New Member
    English/Polski
    I would like to see someone without any slavic speaking background say: Rozrewolwerowany rewolwer.

    My friend cannot even say "rura" correctly :p
     
    That's exactly what people from England and Germany told me, when I said : W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" and "W czasie suszy szosa sucha" :)
    For those, who want to hear it :) -> speech synthesizer http://www.ivo.pl/index.php?option=com_ivonaonline&Itemid=38[/quote]

    Truly sadistic of you:D. I can say the latter but not the former. Besides, I cannot figure out what it means.
    But, come to think of it, I have ever heard Polish rap a few times. Pronouncing that would be more than capital punishment to me.:D
     

    boboxe

    New Member
    English/Polski
    I've spent an hour looking for good tongue twisters, and this is the hardest one I've seen so far: Корабли лавировали, лавировали, да не вылавировали

    link to an audio of it here omniglot.com/soundfiles/twisters/tt2_ru.mp3

    sounds funny ;D
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    That's exactly what people from England and Germany told me, when I said : W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" and "W czasie suszy szosa sucha" :)
    For those, who want to hear it :) -> speech synthesizer http://www.ivo.pl/index.php?option=com_ivonaonline&Itemid=38

    Truly sadistic of you:D. I can say the latter but not the former. Besides, I cannot figure out what it means.
    But, come to think of it, I have ever heard Polish rap a few times. Pronouncing that would be more than capital punishment to me.:D
    I wish I had taken a photo of my American friends when I told them to pronounce these phrases they looked as if they had been, sorry for roughness but I couldn't resist, constipated. :D
    W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie"
    In Szczebrzeszyn a beetle sounds in the reed.
    and
    "W czasie suszy szosa sucha"
    During a draught a road (is) dry.

    They don't make much sense as many tong-twisters whose main use is to practice pronuncaition.
    [...]

    Moral is lost in this thread anyway, so here's strč prst skrz krk. :)
    :eek: I always thought that four-lettered clusters of consonants, weren't existent in Slavic languages until I saw your post Jana, although, without the existence of vowels they'd be impossible to pronounce. Thanks for this one I enjoy łamiąc sobie język in an attempt to pronounce it. :)

    I've spent an hour looking for good tongue twisters, and this is the hardest one I've seen so far: Корабли лавировали, лавировали, да не вылавировали

    link to an audio of it here omniglot.com/soundfiles/twisters/tt2_ru.mp3

    sounds funny ;D
    Something of similar kind in Polish:
    Król Karol kupił królowej Karolinie korale koloru koralowego.


    Tom
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    :eek: I always thought that four-lettered clusters of consonants, weren't existent in Slavic languages until I saw your post Jana, although, without the existence of vowels they'd be impossible to pronounce. Thanks for this one I enjoy łamiąc sobie język in an attempt to pronounce. :)
    With an R inside each word, it's not as hard as it seems to be. Here's my pronunciation guide: Convert it (mentally) to "starch pirst scarce kirk" and pronounce it as if they were English words. Once you can do it, repeat it over and over and try to shorten the "vowel + R" part.

    :p

    Jana
     

    !netko!

    Member
    Croatian, Croatia
    A Portugese speaker once told me I sound like I'm in a lot of hurry when I demonstrated Croatian for her. I can't really see the logic in that... Then we heard two Czech people speaking and she said: "God, this is even faster..."

    And one the funniest thing I've ever heard about my language is when a Spanish speaker said Croatian sounded like Italian... I just about fell off my chair laughing at that one. I'd certainly never expect anyone to compare it to Italian, let alone a Spanish speaker...

    But I've always been interested in how my language sounds to non-speakers, since of course I can't tell... I can't even tell how English really sounds anymore...
    I love Russian, doesn't sound hissy or harsh at all to me. I haven't heard near enough Polish to build an opinion really, but I'd really like to.

    German sounds quite harsh to me. I hear it quite regularly, and to me it definitely sounds harsher than any Slavic language... I like listening to it, though...
     
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