Jump to content

- - - - -

Slavic languages

  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Timm

  • Guests

Posted 14 July 2005 - 07:30 AM

hi everyone! I'm new here...I am also active on orthodoxchristianity.net and beliefnet- I hope there is no rivalries between the groups.

Neways, I was wonndering which Slavic language is most commonly understood today in Eastern Europe. I will have to exclude Romania because they have a Romance language (it's soo beautiful).

I wanted to learn a Slavic ("orthodox") language but I don't know which is most understood by the majority of Eastern Europeans.

For example, is russian best understood by Serbs, Ukrainians, Poles, and Czechs?

Or is Serbian or Ukrainian more understood by all these groups than Russian?

I hope I don't start an ethnic food fight! lol.

I'm Orthodox in the Greek Archdiocese of Canada and so I can write, read, and speak a bit of Greek, as well as broken dialect Arabic because my parents were born in Alexandria, Egypt. And part of my mom's family comes from Calabria, Italy so I have learned the Italian language too but I gotta use it before I forget it all ;)

Oh yes one more thing, which language out of Ukrainian, Russian, and Serbian is the hardest/easiest to learn?

I have been slowly reading Church Slavonic text with an alphabet I printed off and my Old Orthodox Prayerbook in Slavonic and English. And I gotta say, St. Cyril and Methodius should've really added some extra vowels in between. Pronouncing those words are crazy!

wow, the ranting is huge. Do forgive me and God love you all,

#2 Kosmas Damianides

Kosmas Damianides

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 201 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 14 July 2005 - 11:16 AM

Hi Timm,

Welcome to our community. We don't usualy have rivalries in the Orthodox Church. We are all more or less working for the same objective by the grace of God and giving all glory to God.

Our community is a bit of a mix of denominations and Orthodox jurisdiction but there is generally a respect for all. I hae found it a very friendly & informative environment and the members are very loving and compassionate.

In Christ


#3 Eugene


    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 122 posts

Posted 14 July 2005 - 12:55 PM

Dear Timm,

Being ethnic Russian, I hope I can answer some of your questions. All Slavic languages are hard to learn, I'm not sure which is the hardest. This is the list of languages in the order of proximity to Russian: Serbian (the closest to Russian), Belorussian, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Polish, Chech. Ukranian is also close to Polish.

Church Slavonic, I guess, is the root language for all Slavic languages. Also, all praysers and Scriptures in Slavonic are word-by-word translation from Greek, so they have the same sentence strusture and word order as their Greek originals. This makes them easier to undersatnd for those who know Greek. You may try to read Slavonic prayers in transliterated form first (for example, transliterated to Russian aphabet with no missed vowels). Reading them in original Slavonic script is really hard for beginners.

I hope this helps.
In Christ,

#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack


  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 14 July 2005 - 01:47 PM

I wanted to learn a Slavic ("orthodox") language but I don't know which is most understood by the majority of Eastern Europeans.

I believe the language most widely understood by the majority of Slavic Eastern Europeans is/was Russian. This was mainly due to the hegemony of the Soviet Union throughout this area but with the collapse of the Soviet Union it could well be that especially the young are learning only their own native languages rather than Russian.

Each of these countries has experienced their own nationalist reactions against the Soviet period. So in some ways the loss of Russian as a widely used language reflects the fragmentation of eastern Europe as much as any freedom which has resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

For the Orthodox this leaves them in an especially ambiguous position since many were of Russian background.

Inh Christ- Fr Raphael

#5 Guest_Serrgey Reznick

Guest_Serrgey Reznick
  • Guests

Posted 14 July 2005 - 04:40 PM

Hi Timm,

From my point of view it would be best solution to study Russian. Talking in Russian you will be well understood in Russia, in Belarus and in Ukraine. I think that many people in Serbia will understand Russian too.

Also people elder than 30 year in Poland, Czech and Bulgaria will understand Russian (as consequence of former SU influence in Eastern Europe). Younger people in these countries (post-soviet generation) doesn't have much skills in Russian but I think many of them understand English (as consequence of increased relations with Europian countries) which is your native language.

From other point of view, in some countries (like Poland and Chech) AFAIK you can meet with some fobia against Russia and consequently to Russian-speking people.
Contraversely, most Serbians does like Russians.

If you'll have any questions about studing Russian language feel free to ask me via E-mail. I'm Russian native speaker and I'll help you with pleasure if necessary.

In Christ,

#6 Guest_Timm

  • Guests

Posted 14 July 2005 - 05:38 PM

Thanks everyone for your warm welcome and your replies. Now my options lie between Serbian and Russian but I guess Russian would be mroe understood by more people than Serbian.

Once my cousin who was visitng Russia was stupid enough to parade the streets with an American flag on his backpack! Now I love Americans and all but that was not a smart idea...a Russian anti-American gang beat him up badly and he got the american embassy in Russia before they could do more harm to him.

btw, my name is just Tim the m is the first initial of my last name. just to clear things up.

Also, thanks for your kind offer Sergey.

Christos mazi mas~Christ be with us all,

#7 Guest_Eva K

Guest_Eva K
  • Guests

Posted 16 July 2005 - 06:55 PM

Dear Tim,

As you can see, I am writing from Hungary. I am not orthodox but perhaps I can help.
In the countries that had Soviet control Russian was a compulsory foreign language until 1989. Somebody who wrote that people above 30 can speak Russian in the nearby countries. Although it is true that the majority of people speaks foreign languages very badly. Sebian and Ukrainian are the closeset relatives and they have Cyrillic alphabet, but the others like Czech and Polish are not so close. In addition, in countries where Soviet control existed, a lot of people are against Russian.

So I can offer you to make a try with Russian. I learnt it in elementary school. It has not got very difficult language and there are not dozens of exceptions in every single bit of grammar. (I have got my experience - apart from Russian I can speak English, German and Italian. All these three seems to be more difficult than Russian.

Cheer up!

Eve, teacher of English

#8 Edward Henderson

Edward Henderson

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 114 posts

Posted 17 July 2005 - 10:13 AM

Dear Timm,

As others have said, Russian is probably the best to use due to historical circumstances. However, the easiest to learn might be Bulgarian because it does have cases (padezhii)! I majored in Russian at University and then did a Post-graduate degree in Russian studies. During that time, I took a course in Serbian and Croatian and found that I already knew about 50% of the words. Once you learn one Slavonic language, you can understand the basic of the others. I have had several experiences. I once understood a Polish documentary film. One other time, I met a student from Macedonian who said he did not speak Russian but we carried on a chat with him speaking Macedonian and I speaking Russian. The same thing happened on Mount Athos, before I studied Serbian, while visiting Hilandar Monastery. One monk spoke to me in Serbian and I responded in Russian.

#9 Anna Brenneis

Anna Brenneis

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts

Posted 03 April 2007 - 02:30 PM

Greetings, Timm!

I'm a native Californian who was "adopted" by Russians nearly 20 years ago, so I completely empathize with your difficulties with Slavonic. It is a beautiful, heavenly language, but learning to pronounce words with 4 or more consonants mashed together is quite a bear! Just look at the first word in the Akathist Kontakion to the Mother of God, "vzbrannoi." "VZBR..."??? Seems like Cyril and Methodius were injecting extra "podvig" into their language to help us save our souls!

My parish is Holy Virgin Cathedral in San Francisco, where we have the Holy Relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco (Maximovitch), so I meet Slavic pilgrims from all over, and most of them speak at least Russian and perhaps their own local language. Russian is probably your best bet.

Regarding Slavonic, I disagree with our brother Evgeny, who suggested using transliteration. It is harder to start with the actual Slavonic alphabet, but in the long run you will get a feel for the language more quickly, both visual and "audio," if you stay away from transliterations.

Be patient with yourself. I have been around Russians for nearly 2 decades, and I am still learning both Slavonic and Russian, though the effort has been more than worth it.

A blessed Holy Week and Pascha to you!

#10 Paul Schmidt

Paul Schmidt

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 4 posts

Posted 26 June 2007 - 08:23 PM

Dear Evgeny,

As an ethnic Russian can you please tell me how to say in either transliteration or Cyrillic, "The blessing of the Lord and His mercy" in Russian. In my very poor Russian I can piece it together, but I'd rather say it correctly.


#11 Jason Adams

Jason Adams

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 27 posts

Posted 15 October 2008 - 10:43 PM

This thread is pretty old now but I would like to add my halfpenny to it.

1. Cyrillic script is not the same for all languages. Eg there are letters in Serbian that don't exist in Russian and vice versa.

2. If trying to learn Serbian you might be tempted tu use Croatian which is very similar to Serbian but written in Latin. Don't do that, get used to the script.

3. I learned Russian in my youth and Serbian/Croatian in my 30s. Both are beautiful to me and it's sad that I can't practise them now.

4. Old Slavonic to other Slavic languages can be like Latin to Romanesque. If you know Latin it's easier to learn French, Italian etc.

I hope it helps a bit

#12 Steven Shelton

Steven Shelton

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 10 posts

Posted 26 July 2012 - 02:49 PM

Hi i found this post so very interesting, i always wanted to learn bulgarian so i started to learn by saying my daily prayers in Bulgarian and english even though it's a slosh up hill but with a bulgarian dictionary i find i am learing ,my family roots are from Bulgaria so i have some little understanding but my background is english .
I have found the prayers said in bulgarian/slavic are so beautyful, also in english but my goal is to understand and learn so i can more fully partisapate , i have a long way to go and much to learn and far from a langauge master but with God help and help from others i will maybe get there .

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users