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What’s the Difference between Russian....

  Tags: Ukrainian | Russian
 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
IbanezFire
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 Message 1 of 8
12 April 2007 at 2:06pm | IP Logged 
What's the Difference between Russian and Ukrainian?
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ColdBlue
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 Message 2 of 8
12 April 2007 at 11:13pm | IP Logged 
They are about as different as Scots and English.
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Seth
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 Message 3 of 8
13 April 2007 at 7:04am | IP Logged 
No. If by "Scots" you mean the Scottish dialect of English then there is no comparison.

Overall, the two are very similar. However, true Ukranian has a significiantly different lexicon from Russian--even at the level of basic words.

I would guess the difference between the two is in between the Norwegian/Danish and Spanish/Portuguese differences.(That's a very rough estimation.)
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IbanezFire
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 Message 4 of 8
14 April 2007 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
Seth wrote:
No. If by "Scots" you mean the Scottish dialect of English then there is no comparison.

Overall, the two are very similar. However, true Ukranian has a significiantly different lexicon from Russian--even at the level of basic words.

I would guess the difference between the two is in between the Norwegian/Danish and Spanish/Portuguese differences.(That's a very rough estimation.)

I don't really know the differences. I was just wondering if they could understand each other if they talk in their languages.

I know they are very similar, just wondering the specific differences if anyone knows?
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zhiguli
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 Message 5 of 8
17 April 2007 at 12:34am | IP Logged 
Too many things to list. IMHO the only real way to get a sense of the differences is to study both languages.
For those who can't be bothered, here are a few of the more obvious things I've observed in my own studies:

Ukrainian has the letters і ї ґ є and the hard sign '; it lacks Russian ё ы э and the hard sign ъ.
щ and ч are hard in Ukrainian (in Russian they are always soft) unless followed by a front vowel. ш ж and ц show similar softening (in Russian they are always hard).
Syllable-final в is pronounced like English w in Ukranian; Russian does not have this sound (this sound is found in place of л in Russian words - був - был "he was" повно - полно "full)
Ukrainian г is a fricative roughly like Greek gamma. Normal g (in Russian - г) is written ґ and occurs in very few words.
Ukrainian also has very little vowel reduction (е in unstressed position tends to sound like и), while Russian has аканье (where unstressed о gets pronounced а) and иканье (unstressed е/я > и) and other rules. So Ukrainian spelling more closely resembles the actual pronunciation.

Russian and Ukrainian have about 80% common vocabulary and other words built from common roots whose meanings can be easily guessed. In many cases the only difference is in the vowels:
Ukrainian - Russian
привіт - привет ("hi")
спасибі - спасибо ("thank you")
дім - дом (house)
бути - быть (to be)

But there are also many words that are completely different, and as noted, it's often the most common vocabulary items that differ the most:

Ukrainian - Russian
хлопець - мальчик (boy)
будинок - здание (building)
мрія - мечта (dream)
олівець - карандаш (pencil)
розмовляти - говорить (to speak - говорити also exists in ukrainian)
батько - отец (father)
чоловік - муж (husband)
людина - человек (person)
жінка - женщина (woman)
дружина - жена (wife)
колір - цвет (colour-light)
фарба - краска (colour-paint)

among these are some false friends (дружина in russian means something like fighting squad or fire brigade).

Ukrainian has a vowel shift і>е/о, something that does not occur in Russian (or other Slavic languages to my knowledge)
дім - дому (genitive case)
папір - паперу

Ukrainian has a -а/-у split in genitive endings
папір - паперу
but
чоловік - чоловіка

while Russian in most cases only uses -а.
Some other case endings differ. Ukrainian also has vocative case, which has all but disappeared from Russian (apart from some fixed expressions like боже 'O, God')

The Ukrainian infinitive ends in -ти; in Russian -ть.

The personal endings are also slightly different.

Ukrainian has a special imperfect future conjugation formed by adding -м- to the infinitive (afaik this is also unique to Ukrainian):

говорити+м+у
говорити+м+еш
говорити+м+е
говорити+м+емо
говорити+м+ете
говорити+м+уть

As to the question of mutual intelligibility, as with any other language it depends on the speaker and their exposure to other languages, knowledge of roots and word formation, and so on. With Russians this can vary greatly, but most of the ones I've discussed this with said they could understand Ukrainian to varying degrees when reading it and almost not at all when it's spoken. With Ukrainians it's a moot discussion, since most of them are already bilingual in Russian.

Edited by zhiguli on 17 April 2007 at 12:37am

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zoshchenko
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 Message 6 of 8
26 April 2007 at 6:30pm | IP Logged 
zhiguli, djakuju for that post! I have always been curious about this.

I recently learned a little Czech and there are some words in Czech that are like Ukrainian, so maybe it is that Western Slavic influence.

Some people say there is an Eastern Ukrainian dialect and a Western; what do you think? Here in the US sometimes we get Ukrainian TV shows made in US or Canada and it sounds almost like Polish; but when I hear Inter+ TV (when they broadcast in Ukrainski which seems to be not very often) it sounds much closer to Russian.

By the way, there was an old joke, do raspada sojuza:

If you want to learn French, go to France;
If you want to learn German, go to Germany;
If you want to learn Ukrainian, go to Canada.
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Chung
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 Message 7 of 8
26 April 2007 at 8:23pm | IP Logged 
There's an obvious link between Czech and Ukrainian that began in the early part of the Middle Ages.

In the old days, Proto-Slavonic used 'g' everywhere. For some reason, the speakers of the old forms of the "Middle Slavonic" languages (as I call them since the distribution of these languages extends in a band from west to east starting in Czech Republic and going through Ukraine and into southern Russia) started to pronounce the 'g' as 'h'. These "Middle Slavonic" languages are Upper Sorbian, Czech, Slovak, Belorussian, Rusyn, Ukrainian and southern Russian dialects).

Slavonic languages that are spoken outside this "belt" in the middle of Eastern Europe did not go through this change. In other words, Lower Sorbian, Polish, northern Russian dialects (i.e. the base of standard Russian) and Southern Slavonic languages didn't go through this change of 'g' to 'h'

ex.
(all words have the same meaning as the English unless otherwise indicated)

head
*golva (Proto-Slavonic) | golova (Russian) | glava (Croatian, Slovenian) | głowa (Lower Sorbian, Polish)

hlava (Czech, Slovak) | hłowa (Upper Sorbian) | holova (Ukrainian) | halava (Belorussian)

hour
*godina (Proto-Slavonic) | godina = "time" (Russian) | godzina (Polish) | godina = "year" (Croatian, Serbian)

hodina (Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian) | hadzina (Belorussian)

enemy
*vorgŭ (Proto-Slavonic) | vrag (Russian) | wróg (Polish) | vrag = "devil" (Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian)

vrah = "murderer" (Czech, Slovak) | voroh (Ukrainian) | vorah (Belorussian)

Edited by Chung on 26 April 2007 at 8:31pm

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teddo
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 Message 8 of 8
09 May 2007 at 2:22pm | IP Logged 
In addition to posts over mine. There are no problems for Pole to understand and communicate with west dwellers of Ukraine who speaks west dialects of ukrainian language.


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