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When you hear someone saying 'Slavic languages' what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
Russian and Eastern Europe.
A lot of delicious food.
But did you know that Slavic languages include at least 14 different languages? Are you familiar with the fact that the Slavic language family is part of the Indo-European family along with Romance, Germanic, Baltic, and many other languages?
People usually don't know these things, so naturally, they don't know either which of the Slavic languages is the easiest to learn.
That's why we'll provide you with all the necessary information about this European language family and show you which language is easy to learn for English speakers.
Let's dive in.
It is always fun to know a little bit more about the language.
Knowing its origins can help you understand it better and perhaps find some similarities with your native language.
As for the Slavic languages, long before the sixth century, there were Slavic tribes living mainly in today's Eastern Europe and part of the Balkan Peninsula.
At that time, there was one language the tribe used, the Slavic language.
And like with all tribes from ancient times, Slavs slowly began to divide into several different tribes and started to move and find a new place they can call home.
Then they were divided into three tribes and every one of them went in a different direction. The tribe that went to the West, today is known as the West Slavic language family and includes today's languages as Polish, Czech, Slovakian, and Lower Sorbian.
The tribes that went south are today’s south Slavic languages, that is, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin.
And finally, the third group stayed approximately in their old place and they are called East Slavic languages, Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian.
Since you've learned a little bit of Slavic history, it would be a shame that you don't know where Slavs live today.
Slavic languages are spoken mainly in Central Europe, on Balkan Peninsula. Eastern part of the old continent, and some parts of Northern Asia.
In Central Europe west Slavs mainly live, in the Balkans, you can find south Slavs, while east Slavs call their home in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia.
However, all around the world, particularly in every country on the planet, you can find small Slavic communities everywhere where Slavs live.
The Foreign Service Institute ranked all the languages into five different categories an average English speaker needs to learn the language. Depending on the language difficulty languages are divided from category I which are languages similar to English to category V for the languages that are extremely difficult for English speakers to learn. Most of the Slavic languages belong to category IV, which means that an average English speaker needs 1100 hours or 44 weeks to learn the language on a conversational level.
It, generally speaking, means that English speakers consider Slavic languages hard to learn.
Why is that so?
One of the main reasons lies in the difference between English and Slavic languages.
English is a Germanic language and as much as all these languages belong to the Indo-European language family they are pretty different.
Moreover, Slavic languages have some linguistic features that English doesn't or is completely different.
Here are some of the typical features all Slavic languages have in common.
All of them use letters. While some use the Latin alphabet, other languages, like Russian, Macedonian or Bulgarian use the Cyrillic alphabet. Serbian, for example, uses both the alphabets equally.
They all have three genders, masculine, feminine, and neutral.
Except Bulgarian and Macedonian, Slavic languages have no articles.
All Slavic languages, except for Bulgarian and Macedonian, have seven cases.
They conjugate in number, gender, and person.
All Slavic languages are synthetic. It means that they use suffixes and prefixes to express grammatical meaning.
They are rich in consonants, which further means that they have a palatalization.
Verb tenses are present in past, present, and future. Besides, all Slavic languages use imperfective or perfective action.
Saying that one particular language is easier to learn than the other is a difficult task.
It perhaps isn’t even true.
What makes one language easy or difficult to learn for one person, doesn’t mean that it will be the same with the others.
One of the things that can help you learn languages is your previous knowledge. By this, we mean how many languages you speak. If you already speak two or three, learning one more language can be much easier and you’ll learn it faster because you already know your own learning style, on which things to pay attention to, and what are your weaknesses in learning a foreign language on your own or with the help of tutors.
But if you consider Czech, for example, as one of your favorite Slavic languages, it doesn’t mean you should quit learning it. On the contrary, goodwill can make you more determined and concentrated to learn the language successfully.
Or in case you’ve already started learning Russian, don’t think about how difficult the language is. Think about the key reason you’ve started learning it in the first place. Besides, do you know how many Russian-speaking countries there are in the world?
However, according to some linguistic features, we may give some suggestions about some Slavic languages that seem easier to learn than the others, especially for English speakers.
Bulgarian is a South Slavic language, spoken mainly in Bulgaria and by the Bulgarian minority in Macedonia and on the Serbian border with this country.
What makes this language easier to learn than other Slavic languages is the absence of noun cases.
English speakers find it quite challenging to understand, learn and use case systems, especially there is none in English. As we mentioned, in most Slavic languages, there are seven different cases. Like it isn’t hard enough to learn a different language, let alone the language which parts simply don’t exist in English.
That’s why the Bulgarian language can be one of the easiest Slavic languages English speakers can learn.
Macedonian is spoken in North Macedonia, one of the ex-countries of Yugoslavia.
The language belongs to the south Slavic languages and it is very similar to Bulgarian.
What makes it even closer to Bulgarian is that there is no case system in Macedonian as well.
Therefore, along with Bulgarian, and the absence of cases, Macedonian can be easier to learn, just like Bulgarian.
Another thing that eases the learning process for English speakers, is the presence of a definite article both in Macedonian and Bulgarian. It is added as a suffix at the end of a word, but the point is that this article exists, which isn’t the case with other Slavic languages.
Now you see that Slavic languages aren’t just about food (although it is delicious, indeed), drink, and partying.
Slavs have a lot of other useful and entertaining things to offer.
So, no matter if you choose to learn Russian, Czech, Slovene, or Bulgarian, the best way to learn the language is to start practicing it from day one. And that you can do if you book a lesson 1-on-1 with professional tutors right now.
And then you won’t need any post to tell you whether this or that language is easy or hard to learn because the only hard thing that will be is the decision of which one to choose to learn first.
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