Polish is harder to understand than Russian
What Slavic languages are there and which is the easiest to learn?
The Slavic languages unite the countries of the Balkans, parts of Central and Eastern Europe and the entire territory of Russia and have a rich linguistic history. While Russian may be the first Slavic language that comes to mind, there are a multitude of others that shouldn't be neglected. But which are they and which Slavic language is the easiest to learn? Here you will find out everything you need to know to easily choose a new foreign language and start learning the language!
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The history of the Slavic languages
It is assumed that the Slavic languages developed from the Ur-Slavonic (also called Proto-Slavic), which in turn derives from an original form of the Indo-European languages. As recently as the 8th or 9th century AD, Primeval Slavic was the common language of all Slavic peoples. But relatively soon, independent Slavic languages developed from it, which determine our linguistic diversity today.
Slavic languages are spoken by almost 400 million people, mainly in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia (Siberia). More than 20 languages make up the Slavic language family, which is divided into three main groups: East, West and South Slavic. The Slavic languages are usually characterized by a rather difficult pronunciation and a case system.
Overview of the Slavic languages
East Slavic languages
Russian is probably the first language that comes to mind when you think of Slavic languages. Russian is spoken by 145 million people in Russia and nearly 268 million people around the world in total. This makes Russian the most widely spoken language in Europe!
For a German native speaker, it may seem a bit daunting at first if you learn a new language and it is written in a different script. To learn the Russian language, you have to learn the Cyrillic alphabet. For those with a keen interest in literature, however, Russian is an excellent choice, as Russian literature is certainly one of the most important in the world.
Ukrainian has around 32.6 million native speakers in Ukraine and another 2 million around the world. Ukrainian is closest to Belarusian, but Ukrainian and Russian are also understandable to one another to a certain extent. The Polish language also had a strong influence on the Ukrainian language, so there are some words that are used in both languages.
Language students of the Ukrainian language face the typical challenges of learning most Slavic languages: a case system, complex grammatical rules, and some difficult-to-pronounce words. Ukrainian is considered by many to be a really beautiful language.
Belarusian is spoken by more than 2 million people in Belarus and another 300,000 around the world. But isn't there more than 9 million people living in Belarus? That's probably true, but 70% of the Belarusian population actually speak Russian.
Belarusian and Russian are relatively easy to understand among each other and have similar grammatical rules, so that communication among the population is not a major problem. There are three main dialects in Belarusian (Central Belarusian, Northeast Belarusian and Southwest Belarusian) and the Cyrillic script is also used.
Because of the many overlaps between Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian, these languages are often learned together.
West Slavic languages
Czech is spoken by over 10 million people in the Czech Republic and approximately another 3 million worldwide. It's a popular Slavic language that is a little easier to learn because it uses the Latin alphabet. Like most Slavic languages, however, the somewhat difficult pronunciation and the often feared case system can be quite a challenge. However, these obstacles shouldn't intimidate you if you've already decided to learn a Slavic language!
Slovak is spoken by 5 million people in Slovakia and by more than 2 million people around the world. The Slovak language uses the Latin alphabet and is closely related to the Czech language. For this reason, Czech and Slovak are often learned together.
There are over 37 million people in Poland and another 3 million worldwide who speak Polish. Polish is one of the Lechic languages, which is a subgroup of the West Slavic languages. Although the Polish language is not the only one that belongs to the Lechian language family, it is certainly the best known.
Polish is particularly interesting for language students because it is one of the most widely used Slavic languages and uses the Latin alphabet. For German native speakers, learning the Polish language is therefore not quite as daunting as some other Slavic languages.
In addition to Polish, Czech and Slovak, Lower Sorbian, Upper Sorbian and Kashubian are also West Slavic languages.
South Slavic languages
There are over 7 million people in Bulgaria and another million around the world who speak Bulgarian.
Bulgarian uses the old Prot-Slavic system of verbs and the Cyrillic alphabet, so it can be a bit daunting for some language learners. Among the Slavic languages, Bulgarian and Macedonian (which is very closely related to Bulgarian) are the only languages that use Articles.
However, there is a big advantage if you want to learn Bulgarian: the Bulgarian language theoretically has a case system, but there is no declination based on cases and there is no infinitive in verbs!
Serbo-Croatian is a pluricentric language with four standard varieties that are mutually understandable. These include Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian and Montenegrin. The individual varieties are considered to be dialects of the same language, with the separation between them largely for political reasons. The Serbo-Croatian language is spoken by over 15 million people.
There are few lexical and / or grammatical differences between the different varieties. One really notable difference, however, is the use of the alphabet. Serbian, for example, uses both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. Bosnian mainly uses the Latin alphabet alongside Croatian, and there is an increasing preference for the Latin alphabet in Montenegrin.
Slovenian is spoken by nearly 2 million people in Slovenia and around 200,000 around the world. It is one of the newer Slavic languages and one of the most diverse as it has a wide variety of different dialects. However, the large number of Slovenian dialects makes it difficult for the individual groups in the various language regions to understand each other.
Although the pronunciation of some words is rather difficult and the Slovenian language has tricky grammatical rules and a case system, the attraction lies in the uniqueness of this language.
Now that we have learned so much interesting information about the individual Slavic languages, one question still remains unanswered ...
What is the best Slavic language to learn?
If you want to speak to as many people as possible or if you have a great passion for literature, Russian is the perfect choice. If you are looking for the Slavic language that is the easiest to learn, we recommend Bulgarian as there are no grammatical cases. In our opinion, Czech is the most beautiful Slavic language, even if it is of course very subjective.
It's that simple, so what are you waiting for ?!
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