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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Slavic Languages and What Makes Them a FAMILY

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I have no idea how to make a funny introduction for this video.

So instead, I'm going to give you a quick slide show of cool awesome Slavic stuff. Go!

Hello everyone. Welcome to the Langfocus channel and my name is Paul.

Today I'm going to talk about the Slavic languages.

They may not get as much attention as the Romance languages and the Germanic languages,

but the Slavic languages are an important family of languages with 315 million native speakers

and covering over half the area of Europe.

That includes Eastern Europe, the Balkans, as well as the European part of Russia and of course the Asian part of Russia as well.

Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family.

If we go all the way back to the beginning, then there was a language called Proto-Indo-European,

which is the language from which all Indo-European languages descended.

That includes the Romance languages, the Germanic languages, the Indo-Iranian languages and, of course, the Slavic languages as well as others.

One language that developed from Proto-Indo-European was Proto-Balto-Slavic.

That language is the ancestor of both the Baltic languages and the Slavic languages.

But the Slavic language family broke off from Proto-Balto-Slavic around 1500 to 1000 BCE

The language then underwent a 2000 year period of gradual development but, during that time, it remained a single unified language.

Around 500 CE, there was a language called Proto-Slavic that would later split and would give birth to all of the modern Slavic languages of today.

Proto-Slavic was the ancestor of all Slavic Languages.

The time between 500 CE and 1000 CE was called the Common Slavic Period.

And during this period Proto-Slavic began to diverge into dialects.

And, as Slavic people migrated over a wider area, those differences increased.

And, by about 1,000 CE, there were distinct West-Slavic, East-Slavic and South-Slavic Languages.

Those three languages would later become three branches of the Slavic language family.

And the dialects of those languages would become the different languages in each branch.

The East-Slavic languages include : Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian which is sometimes called "White-Russian".

The South Slavic language family includes Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian and Macedonia which are very similar,

Slovenian and also the liturgical language known as Old Church Slavonic.

"Slavonic" just means "Slavic".

The West Slavic languages include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Sorbian which is a minority language in eastern Germany,

Kashubian, which is a minority language in Poland.

The Slavic languages are much closer to each other than the languages of other Indo-European language families.

That's because Proto-Slavic split into different languages relatively recently, compared to other language families like Germanic and Romance.

Some people claim that all Slavic languages are mutually intelligible to a large degree, but that's not really true.

But, from what I understand, the speaker of any Slavic language can probably find a way to make some sort of simple conversation with the speaker of any other Slavic language or most other Slavic languages.

That doesn't mean they can understand everything but that means when they're talking face-to-face, maybe they can find a way to communicate.

And, within each of those three branches of the language family, there seems to be quite a lot of mutual intelligibility.

For example, the East-Slavic branch. Here are some average figures from native speaker's statements on the internet.

So, for Russian-speakers, Belarusian is about 74% intelligible in its spoken form and 85% intelligible in its written form.

Ukrainian is 50% intelligible in it's spoken form and 85% intelligible and it's written form.

But, in both cases, there are also transitional dialects. For example, Ukrainian is more similar to the Russian dialects in the south of the country,

rather than the standard language which is based on dialects of the north.

So speakers of those southern Russian dialects might have an easier time communicating with someone from Ukraine.

Here's another example from a Langfocus viewer, named "anointedfighter".

He says "I'm a native Bulgarian-speaker, I can understand 80% Serbian and 80% Russian, especially if they are written.

Czech Slovak and Slovenian, I can get 60% and, from Polish, only 40%.

Bulgarian and Serbian are both part of the South Slavic branch, so he can understand 80% of Serbian.

But he can also understand 80% of Russian, even though it's in the East Slavic branch.

Slavic was still a single unified language in the 9th c. when the first known Slavic writings were written.

These writings were written in Old Church Slavonic. Slavonic just means Slavic, remember.

It was the first Slavic literary language and it was standardized by the Saints Cyril and Methodius.

So that they could translate the Bible and other religious works into the Slavic language and they could minister to the Slavs that convert them to Christianity.

At this point, there were Slavic dialects but they were still relatively close to each other. So...

Old Church Slavonic was widely understood

Old Church Slavonic went on to become the language of religious ceremony for the Eastern Orthodox Church

and the Eastern Catholic Church and it's still used by many churches today.

One of the writing systems Cyril and Methodius used to write Old Church Slavonic was the "cyrillic script", for the word cyrillic comes from the saint's name, Cyril.

The cyrillic script was adapted from the old Greek uncial script, with some additional letters to represent sounds found in Church Slavonic that were not found in Greek.

Today, there are Slavic languages written in the cyrillic script and there are also those written in variations of the Latin script.

Those written in the cyrillic script tend to be for cultures in which the Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic Church are dominant.

Those written in the Latin script tend to be for cultures in which the Roman Catholic Church is dominant.

One of the common features of Slavic languages, aside from Bulgaria and Macedonian, is that the nouns and also pronouns are highly inflected and have many grammatical cases.

Grammatical case means that the noun or the pronoun changes form depending on its function in the sentence.

In English, the only example we have of this is with the pronouns.

For example, "I" is the subject form and "me" is the object form.

But nouns can have multiple forms like this as well, if they have grammatical cases.

Slavic languages have up to seven different grammatical cases.

Let's look at an example for the Polish word for "bottle".

So the word "bottle" changes form depending on which case it's being used.

I won't go through each one and say which case it is but you can see that the form of the noun changes.

For people whose native language is not a highly inflected language with grammatical cases like that, this can make learning a Slavic language a challenge.

You not only have to memorize those different forms but, when you're speaking, you have to constantly be aware of which form the word should be ,

which function the word is fulfilling in the sentence.

Another characteristic of Slavic languages is that they don't have articles, that means like "the" or "a" in English.

And again, the exception is Bulgarian and Macedonian for some reason.

The lack of grammatical cases and the presence of articles might make Bulgarian and Macedonian easier to learn,

but the most widely studied Slavic language is Russian

And that's probably because it's the most widely spoken. There are 150 million native speakers of Russian.

and, if we include second language speakers, there are 260 million proficient speakers.

The second most widely spoken is Polish, with around 40 million native speakers.

The third most widely spoken is Ukrainian, with about 30 million speakers.

The fourth is Serbo-Croatian with about 19 million speakers.

And yes, I know some people consider those to be separate languages but I will leave that topic for a different video, for now.

The fifth is Czech with 10 million people.

And, of course, there are numerous other important Slavic languages too.

Really there's so much to say about the various different Slavic languages that I can't talk about it all in one video.

But, please, stay tuned for future videos in which I talk about specific Slavic languages.

That brings us to the end of this video but the question of the day for Slavic language speakers is:

Can you communicate with the speakers of different Slavic languages and if so which ones?

Is it just the ones in your language branch, like East-Slavic or South Slavic?

Or can you communicate with the speakers in other branches as well?

Let us know in the comments down below.

And other people you can comment about whatever you want.

Alright, thank you for watching and have a nice day!

The Description of The Slavic Languages and What Makes Them a FAMILY