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Serbo-Croatian or Russian?

 Language Learning Forum : Advice Center Post Reply
eccodandini
Newbie
United States
Joined 4141 days ago

21 posts - 22 votes
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 1 of 8
2010 25 December at 7:35pm | IP Logged 
I really want to take a dive into a Slavic language, and while Russian would be the easiest choice in terms of materials, I've been struck lately by Serbo-Croatian/Croatian/Serbian/whatever the correct term for it is at this particular time of the day... anyway. I'm wondering if anyone has studied both and found one to be easier. For Russian, I would either use Linguaphone's course or Assimil's course to begin with, and for Serbo-Croatian I would use Le Serbo-Croate sans peine, which I have read on the forum is regarded as one of the best programs Assimil ever put out.

Advice welcome!
1 person has voted this message useful



Merv
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3916 days ago

414 posts - 749 votes 
Speaks: English*, Serbo-Croatian*
Studies: Spanish, French

 
 Message 2 of 8
2010 25 December at 8:00pm | IP Logged 
eccodandini wrote:
I really want to take a dive into a Slavic language, and while Russian would be the easiest
choice in terms of materials, I've been struck lately by Serbo-Croatian/Croatian/Serbian/whatever the correct
term for it is at this particular time of the day... anyway. I'm wondering if anyone has studied both and found
one to be easier. For Russian, I would either use Linguaphone's course or Assimil's course to begin with, and for
Serbo-Croatian I would use Le Serbo-Croate sans peine, which I have read on the forum is regarded as one of
the best programs Assimil ever put out.

Advice welcome!


Go with what strikes your interest most. All the Slavic languages (except Bulgarian) are of roughly comparable
difficulty, and each has its little intricacies and nuances. Despite the lack of any knowledge of Russian, I'm almost
certain that it is harder than SC. SC has predictable stress, is 100% phonetic, has very little palatalization, and has
a somewhat simpler set of tenses in common use than Russian. Russian is not phonetic, displays florid
palatalization, has unpredictable stress, is more idiomatic, and has a harder verb system. SC may be harder than
Russian only in that it possesses an extra case (7 instead of 6, which is not hard) and tonal accents (which don't
exist in many other languages > Japanese, Swedish, ancient Greek, Lithuanian, are a few); knowing tonal accents
is only important if you really want native-like pronunciation in SC.

I suggest you go with Russian. It may be slightly harder, but the literature you can read in it is mindbogglingly
good and vast and you will also have access to about 250,000,000+ speakers, which is more than 10x as many as
you can talk to in SC.
1 person has voted this message useful



Chung
Diglot
Senior Member
Joined 5799 days ago

4228 posts - 8257 votes 
20 sounds
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Polish, Slovak, Uzbek, Turkish, Korean, Finnish

 
 Message 3 of 8
2010 25 December at 8:11pm | IP Logged 
eccodandini wrote:
I really want to take a dive into a Slavic language, and while Russian would be the easiest choice in terms of materials, I've been struck lately by Serbo-Croatian/Croatian/Serbian/whatever the correct term for it is at this particular time of the day... anyway. I'm wondering if anyone has studied both and found one to be easier. For Russian, I would either use Linguaphone's course or Assimil's course to begin with, and for Serbo-Croatian I would use Le Serbo-Croate sans peine, which I have read on the forum is regarded as one of the best programs Assimil ever put out.

Advice welcome!


See also these threads: Russian and Serbian grammar question and Russian from Serbo-Croatian.
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canada38
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4138 days ago

304 posts - 417 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, Spanish, French
Studies: Portuguese, Japanese

 
 Message 4 of 8
2010 25 December at 8:26pm | IP Logged 
Unless you plan to learn one of these languages to live, travel frequently, work, etc.
in a particular location, then in general, Russian would be much more useful. You'll
also find many more resources in Russian, and probably more speakers to practice with
too. I have not studied either language, so I cannot comment on their relative
difficulty.

That aside, if you are more interested in Serbo-Croatian, then you should study it
instead. You can always go back and start Russian later, and learn it at half price
since you'll already have become familiar with a Slavic language.

If you honestly can't pick a favourite, and might spend equal time in both regions
where these languages are spoken, then perhaps Russian might be more useful. I'm making
an assumption here, so I'm open to correction, but I would think that more people in
Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo would be familiar with
Russian, than there would be people familiar with BCS throughout Russia and the
former Soviet Union.
1 person has voted this message useful



litovec
Tetraglot
Groupie
Switzerland
lingvometer.com
Joined 3774 days ago

42 posts - 60 votes 
Speaks: German, Russian, French, English

 
 Message 5 of 8
2010 26 December at 12:51pm | IP Logged 
I don't know how does it work, but I've heard from several Serbo-Croatian speakers that it is easier for Russians to read SC texts than for Serbs to read Russian texts. The reason might be the simpler grammar of SC compared to Russian. I hope this information helps you make your decision.
1 person has voted this message useful



tennisfan
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4003 days ago

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Speaks: English*, Italian, Spanish
Studies: German

 
 Message 6 of 8
2010 27 December at 8:47pm | IP Logged 
I'll add something from my experience that I'm sure will get some flack, but might be helpful. And of course, your mileage may vary. I dabbled in both Russian and Serbo-Croatian a while back. I never studied either seriously but I did a thorough review of grammar and could hold elementary conversations in both. If I could start over with Russian, I would do it again ONLY speaking, not reading. For some reason, I had a hard time visualizing declensions when I read and wrote, but when I spoke, it came easily to me. I don't know anything about Assimil's Serbo-Croatian course, but if it uses a Latin script, it could be helpful in making the declensions easier to process when you read. Not that Cyrillic is hard by any stretch of the imagination, you could learn it in a day, easily. But constantly looking for the *changes* in words in Cyrillic proved a bit of a challenge for me, whereas with Latin script in Croatian, I had one less obstacle to see the declension. Then, if you decide to start with Serbo-Croatian and move to Russian later, the issue of declension in Russian won't be as foreign to you and might be easier to conquer.

Just a thought.
1 person has voted this message useful



Taiga
Diglot
Groupie
Australia
Joined 4953 days ago

81 posts - 85 votes 
5 sounds
Speaks: English, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Serbo-Croatian

 
 Message 7 of 8
2011 01 January at 12:41pm | IP Logged 
litovec wrote:
I don't know how does it work, but I've heard from several Serbo-Croatian speakers that it is easier for Russians to read SC texts than for Serbs to read Russian texts. The reason might be the simpler grammar of SC compared to Russian. I hope this information helps you make your decision.


I know a number of Polish and Czech speakers who are able to under BSC very well after interacting with BSC-speakers for a long time. For some reason, much less BSC speakers are able to pick up other Slavic languages.
1 person has voted this message useful



Merv
Bilingual Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3916 days ago

414 posts - 749 votes 
Speaks: English*, Serbo-Croatian*
Studies: Spanish, French

 
 Message 8 of 8
2011 01 January at 6:46pm | IP Logged 
Taiga wrote:
litovec wrote:
I don't know how does it work, but I've heard from several Serbo-Croatian
speakers that it is easier for Russians to read SC texts than for Serbs to read Russian texts. The reason might be the
simpler grammar of SC compared to Russian. I hope this information helps you make your decision.


I know a number of Polish and Czech speakers who are able to under BSC very well after interacting with BSC-
speakers for a long time. For some reason, much less BSC speakers are able to pick up other Slavic
languages.


Probably for the same reason that Brazilians find it harder to understand European Portuguese than vice versa. BCS
has a more "open" vowel-heavy structure as opposed to the richer consonants (and clusters of them) of Western
Slavic languages and palatalization in Russian. It's probably easier for those with more consonants and more highly
concentrated consonants to understand a language with fewer of both than vice versa.


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