How useful is Interslavic?

This is our main forum. Here, anything related to languages and linguistics can be discussed.

Moderator: Forum Administrators

xBlackHeartx

How useful is Interslavic?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-10-29, 21:57

I know, Interslavic's a conlang. But for my question, I think this section would be more appropriate.

For those who don't know, Interslavic is a project to find a 'compromise' (for lack of a better term) between all the existing Slavic languages. Essentially, its a zonal auxlang, but there's been a lot of serious work put into it. Its been through multiple revisions, and its also involved serious research into such things as Old Church Slavonic, proto-Slavic, and even how speakers of different slavic languages communicate online.

To make a long story short, its a conlang that's designed to be intelligible to all the existing Slavic languages, and it seems to have met its goals quite well (though I did find one video where a Bulgarian speaker had multiple issues understanding it).

Interslavic has repeatedly drawn my interest in its promise that it allows you to communicate with and understand multiple slavic languages. Now, I don't know how well that works in practice, but they have done some serious work into achieving that, and they have met with at least SOME success (looking at Interslavic texts myself, I actually recognize a lot of it from Russian, even though Russian isn't exactly a language I know how to speak).

However, I've never really felt like it would be useful to me to learn this language, even if its claims are true. For one, I don't exactly consume Slavic-language media often (and I listen to non-English music all the time, just so we know). Also, its an ever-evolving project, which means that seriously learning it could be difficult. I mean, the current Interslavic is actually a merger between multiple other 'zonal slavic auxlangs' that were floating around in the 2000s. Which means that keeping up to pace with it could be difficult.

Though things seem to be looking up for it. I've found quite a few videos about it on youtube (which is odd for such an obscure auxlang), and I recently found out that someone even made a movie in the language, which appears to have drawn a lot of attention to the language.

As I said, I'm constantly drawn to it because, if the advertising is to be trusted, it could allow me to understand around a dozen languages while only learning one! Also, it looks far easier than any natural Slavic language (it minimizes the ridiculous number of declensions and verb conjugations Slavic languages tend to be plagued with), though I recall being told in the past that if I seriously wanted to be able to understand multiple Slavic languages that I would be better off just learning Russian.

So yeah, is learning Interslavic actually useful? And if so, is it actually useful to someone who has no ties to any Slavic culture? I have come across a few Russian-language (well, ONE of them may be Ukrainian, I don't know) MVs on youtube long ago, but I never took that much interest in them. It would be kinda neat if I could learn Interslavic and actually understand those old MVs.

xBlackHeartx

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-10-31, 2:46

Honestly, when I was making this thread, I was wishing there was a generic 'slavic' section I could post this in. Sadly though, there's one for each Slavic language, so I had to post this in a generic board like this one.

I wish I had information from an actual learner on how well Interslavic lets them understand various Slavic languages. Is it true mutual intelligibility, or is it one-way? Are some Slavic languages harder to understand than others if you only know Interslavic? I honestly wish I know the exact degree of mutual intelligibility that exists between the various Slavic languages.

If no one answers, I may just have to learn the language see for myself. Honestly, I was kinda interested in learning an inflecting language anyway; though I was actually looking more at Latin for that. At least Interslavic is actually USED, and may be of SOME practical use to me outside of its little fandom. Also, I never liked Roman culture. And looking into it, it seems they were essentially just a bunch of organized barbarians that practically worshiped violence. I don't really understand why the west shows such fascination with such an overly militaristic culture. Also, I never liked how the language sounded anyway. I did, however, once think that Russian was the most beautiful language I ever heard. Interslavic also sounds rather pleasant to me (of course, all the Slavic languages sound virtually the same, at least to someone who doesn't know any of them).

User avatar
Vlürch
Posts: 891
Joined: 2014-05-06, 8:42
Gender: male
Location: Roihuvuori, Helsinki
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Vlürch » 2019-10-31, 16:20

Unfortunately I can't say anything about Interslavic since I've never even tried to learn any of it and the only Slavic language I've tried to actually learn is Russian, but my gut feeling would be that it probably wouldn't be as useful for understanding others as it would be for making yourself understood, because if it uses only (or at least mostly) common Slavic vocabulary, then neologisms and loanwords from non-Slavic languages in all the Slavic languages would still have to be learned individually. I mean, at least Russian has tons of neologisms and slang and the South Slavic languages have a lot of Ottoman Turkish loanwords, the West Slavic languages have a lot of Germanic loanwords, etc.

On the other hand, maybe it's like a key to all the Slavic languages in one neat package... but it doesn't have regular sound correspondences, though, right? So if you learned Interslavic and then tried to apply sound changes to words so that you could speak other Slavic languages, I don't think it'd work? I could be wrong, though.
xBlackHeartx wrote:Also, I never liked Roman culture. And looking into it, it seems they were essentially just a bunch of organized barbarians that practically worshiped violence. I don't really understand why the west shows such fascination with such an overly militaristic culture.

Well, you can say the same about pretty much any culture. Pacifism wasn't really a thing until like the 19th century or whatever, except maybe for the Harappans or whatever, and for most people "pacifist" is still a dirty word. It's kind of understandable, too. I mean, most countries that exist today, at least in Eurasia, exist because their militaries were strong enough to keep them from being annexed, and that's also why many countries that should exist don't (including ones that used to be militarily powerful in the past); any country that stops being militaristic will eventually be annexed by its militaristic neighbours, and while ones that were never militaristic and as such weren't perceived as a threat may in some cases linger on for longer, they will also inevitably end up losing their independence.

Anyway, for most westerners that have a thing for the Romans, the reason isn't that they were militaristic, oppressive, that they had slaves and all that, but things like literature, art, philosophy, etc. and that they were highly influential (if not single-handedly responsible) for the development of the very concept of the western world. Of course, far-righters are as obsessed with the fucked up things about the Romans as they are with the "good things", and unfortunately far-righters are taking over the world... and in many cases it's arguable whether the "good things" were actually good things either... but still...
xBlackHeartx wrote:Also, I never liked how the language sounded anyway.

That's subjective and all, and I'm not saying you should like how Latin sounds like, but how can you not like how Latin sounds like? :o I've never had much interest in the Romans or anything either and used to hate Catholicism with a passion, but I've always liked the way Latin sounds especially in liturgical contexts. It's not Classical Latin, of course, which sounded "harder" or whatever, but if it's Ecclesiastical Latin you don't like the sound of... how? Not being judgemental or anything, just genuinely curious because it sounds really nice to me and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they don't like Latin before.

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 23710
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby linguoboy » 2019-10-31, 16:40

Check out the comments on this video. Lots of feedback from native speakers of various Slavic languages.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlopfGDweTE
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

xBlackHeartx

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-10-31, 20:50

Vlürch wrote:On the other hand, maybe it's like a key to all the Slavic languages in one neat package... but it doesn't have regular sound correspondences, though, right? So if you learned Interslavic and then tried to apply sound changes to words so that you could speak other Slavic languages, I don't think it'd work? I could be wrong, though.


The Slavic world did at one time have an 'interslavic' language called 'old church slavonic'. I believe it was only used by the church though. The current Interslavic does take influence from it (old church slavonic is too archaic to be useful now, just so we know). They also seriously look at proto-slavic, along with how slavic speakers communicate online. Supposedly its common for slavic speakers of different languages to develop a creole between their languages on the spot as needed. For instance, one comment I saw on quora I think claimed that he and a bunch of slavic speakers got together and ended up developing a Polish-Russian creole for that one encounter. Though he also mentioned that this one Taiwanese person who only knew Polish was completely lost. Doing this apparently requires a lot of knowledge of the other Slavic languages and their histories, which means that only native Slavic speakers can seriously do this. Though funny enough, he mentioned this one meeting a long, long time ago (I think it involved Karl Marx) where everyone there couldn't come up with a compromise, and so they ended up holding their discussion in German (begrudgingly).

As for Interslavic, the developers do sometimes claim that it can act as an 'introduction' to the slavic languages. They even have a dumbed-down version called 'Slovianski' which completely lacks cases and conjugations and whatnot (apparently its common online for Slavic speakers to just use the infinitive form of verbs all the time because their conjugation endings vary so widely, Interslavic actually doesn't allow you to omit subject pronouns for this reason). Mainly though, they appear to want to function as a zonal auxlang for the Slavic world.

As for me, I was kinda thinking it could act as a key that makes it easier for me to learn Slavic languages. Native Slavic speakers can apparently learn each other's languages in a shockingly short period of time. I was kinda thinking of something like learning Interslavic, and then figuring out how it differed for each language. Like 'this russian word is the same as this interslavic word, and their endings look like this, and they don't have a locative case. or a feminine vocative'.

As for east Slavic languages, ironnically I'm an upper intermediate in German. I wonder how much of those languages I would catch? I know I can make sense of (written) Dutch surprisingly well, though others online have said that's probably just because I happen to know both German AND English. Though strangely enough, I can't make any sense at all of written Low German (or that dialect that some Amish use anyway).

User avatar
Saim
Posts: 5521
Joined: 2011-01-22, 5:44
Location: Novi Sad
Country: RS Serbia (Србија)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Saim » 2019-11-01, 10:59

xBlackHeartx wrote:However, I've never really felt like it would be useful to me to learn this language, even if its claims are true. For one, I don't exactly consume Slavic-language media often (and I listen to non-English music all the time, just so we know). Also, its an ever-evolving project, which means that seriously learning it could be difficult. I mean, the current Interslavic is actually a merger between multiple other 'zonal slavic auxlangs' that were floating around in the 2000s. Which means that keeping up to pace with it could be difficult.


This is the key issue. I'm not sure how you'd go about acquiring Interslavic without already having an advanced knowledge of natural Slavic languages. What materials will you use? Will you just watch that same film again and again?

As I said, I'm constantly drawn to it because, if the advertising is to be trusted, it could allow me to understand around a dozen languages while only learning one!


That's not true at all. Slavic speakers may understand Interslavic, but that doesn't mean you'll understand all Slavic speakers all the time, especially if they don't actively accomodate their speach to be more transparent to outsiders. Remember that native speakers have massive vocabularies in their own languages and have likely been exposed to regional accents and dialects (more likely in some countries than in others, Poland is somewhat more linguistically homogenous than most other predominantly Slavic-speaking countries), this means that they may know some root or word that is uncommon in their language but very common in another (here is an example I recently came across in Serbian) or or will be able to more accurately guess the meanings of words simply due to decades of exposure to Slavic. Even as someone who's been an advanced speaker of both Serbian and Polish for years, I see a huge difference in the transparency of other Slavic languages based on 2, 3, 4 years of reading Serbian and Polish and amassing a broad vocabulary (which is more than just "fluency").

though I recall being told in the past that if I seriously wanted to be able to understand multiple Slavic languages that I would be better off just learning Russian.


Why specifically Russian?

xBlackHeartx wrote:The Slavic world did at one time have an 'interslavic' language called 'old church slavonic'. I believe it was only used by the church though.


Old Church Slavonic isn't really any sort of "interslavic". Slavic languages had already diverged into several distinct branches by the time Old Church Slavonic arose, and Old Church Slavonic is clearly an East South Slavic language, so only Bulgarian and Macedonian could be said to be descended from it or a close relative of it. Old Church Slavonic had a much stronger influence on Romanian than on Polish or Czech.

Old Church Slavonic also heavily influenced Russian, but not so much the other East Slavic languages, which were within the Polish sphere of influence. That means that Russian might be a bit more transparent to South Slavic speakers than Ukrainian or Polish or Czech, but not much more than that.

(apparently its common online for Slavic speakers to just use the infinitive form of verbs all the time because their conjugation endings vary so widely, Interslavic actually doesn't allow you to omit subject pronouns for this reason).


I can't say I've ever observed this.

As for me, I was kinda thinking it could act as a key that makes it easier for me to learn Slavic languages. Native Slavic speakers can apparently learn each other's languages in a shockingly short period of time.


That's because they're very good at their own languages. A native English speaker can also learn French in a "shockingly short" period of time, and the more widely read you are in English the easier it'll be -- this is not necessarily true of an intermediate learner of English whose native language is Mandarin or Tamil. If you want to learn several Slavic languages you're in it for the long haul, although yes each new Slavic language does get substantially easier (but also the more languages you add the more you have to think about seriously prioritising and chose what you want find time for, but this is true of language learning in general).

As for east Slavic languages, ironnically I'm an upper intermediate in German. I wonder how much of those languages I would catch? I know I can make sense of (written) Dutch surprisingly well, though others online have said that's probably just because I happen to know both German AND English. Though strangely enough, I can't make any sense at all of written Low German (or that dialect that some Amish use anyway).


Surely you mean West Slavic languages? German does help a bit with Polish, there is a fairly substantial number of Germanisms: szacować (to estimate, appraise), burmistrz (mayor), dziękować (to thank), kac (hangover), rynek (central square), grunt (ground), szyld (signboard), handel (trade), knajpa (pub), drukować (to print), rada (advice, counsil), warunek (condition), warsztat (workshop), and so on. That said, not all of these Germanisms are immediately obvious as some of them are quite old (such as dziękować).

Look, all things considered, Slavic languages are globally not that hard for English speakers compared to pretty much anything you'll find if you step a few inches out of Europe or even non-IE languages within or partially within the European sphere like Hungarian, Basque, Turkish or Finnish. The complex morphology can be somewhat daunting at first but if you allow yourself to soak up the language and focus on listening, reading and growing your vocabulary, while consulting information on cases on the side (but not trying to memorise endings and such, just consulting declension tables to make more sense out of it), eventually you'll acquire it naturally; also if you already know some German you already have a sense of cases and will likely not struggle anywhere near as much as a monolingual English speaker. If you want to learn Slavic languages just pick the one you're most interested in and start with that, there are no shortcuts.

Don't let the online circlejerk about declensions and consonant clusters intimidate you, the single hardest activity will be finding the time to expose yourself to the language and pick up vocabulary, like any other language.

User avatar
voron
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 4901
Joined: 2007-07-15, 3:29
Real Name: Igor
Gender: male
Country: TR Turkey (Türkiye)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby voron » 2019-11-01, 15:16

I agree with everything that Saim said. Interslavic is a toy and it is of no real use to anyone, because:

1) For a native Slavic speaker, we already understand each other when we speak slowly and want to make ourselves understood. Interslavic does not add anything to that. And if we want to understand more, it is easier and much more pleasant for us to learn a real language, not a conlang.

2) For a non-native Slavic speaker, it is impossible to learn it to any level beyond beginner because there is no content in it.

User avatar
Vlürch
Posts: 891
Joined: 2014-05-06, 8:42
Gender: male
Location: Roihuvuori, Helsinki
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Vlürch » 2019-11-01, 15:52

Saim wrote:Don't let the online circlejerk about declensions and consonant clusters intimidate you, the single hardest activity will be finding the time to expose yourself to the language and pick up vocabulary, like any other language.

At least for me as a Finn, though, the consonant clusters are one of the reasons (if not the primary reason) I struggle more with Russian vocabulary than with Japanese, Turkish, etc. vocabulary, so there's some truth to the "scary clusters" at least for some people. Obviously, something like Georgian would be at least an order of magnitude harder, but...

xBlackHeartx

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-11-02, 5:45

I have to agree with Vlurch. The native Slavic speakers here clearly underestimate just how hard their consonant clusters are. They may look like nothing to you, but that's because they're native to you! Humans, in general, tend to lean towards having only a few, if any, consonant clusters. To outsiders, we can't even fathom how its possible to pronounce some Slavic words. A lot of words, it looks like someone just mashed in a bunch of random letters on the keyboard.

And it goes beyond just pronouncing them. Its nigh impossible to hear all of them if you're not used to it. I mean, even with German I struggled a lot to learn to both pronounce and hear its consonant clusters, and they're not really THAT much worse than what you find in English!

I also dabbled A LOT into Japanese, which like Finnish has a pretty restrictive syllable structure (the only consonants that can occur next to another are 'y' and and syllable-final 'n'). And I can assure you, your average Japanese speaker simply CANNOT manage the consonant clusters of English. I mean, its common for them to assume that English actually has all those buffer-vowels they insert into English loan words just to make them so they can actually pronounce them!

Yes, your own consonant clusters look easy to you, but I assure, they are NOT for anyone else. I mean, most people struggle just to hear the difference between your words because all the consonant essentially drown out each other. Its like trying to listen to someone who talks far too fast, and in your case its like they're talking faster than what you would assume to be humanly possible.

As for how I was going to learn Interslavic, honestly they don't really have lessons on their site, just a reference grammar. They don't even seem to give vocab lists. Their grammar section is nothing more than charts upon charts of inflections and conjugations (along with quite a few alternate rules). Yeah, I have no clue how you could learn from that, but it appears to be all they offer. Though there has been a fair number of youtube videos about the conlang ever since that movie came out.

And as for those 'German' words in Polish, I only recognize about 3 of those. The others sound like nothing I've ever heard. Those words were clearly borrowed into the language quite some time ago, and I'm NOT that well versed in archaic German. I've only ever once gotten to see an older German text; I think it was the 'Erlkoenig' poem (and yes, I have no way to type umlaut characters on this computer, windows 10 is so worthless).

And if the Slavic world sees no need for such a thing as Interslavic, then why does it exist? A large number of people have devoted quite a few years to this project, so why are they going through the trouble of doing it? They're not even that focused on non-Slavs to be honest; they're far more interested in creating a zonal auxlang for the Slavic world. Because let's be honest, there's already more zonal auxlangs for the romance languages than anyone will ever need, and they're the only zonal auxlangs to ever really get anywhere.

User avatar
Saim
Posts: 5521
Joined: 2011-01-22, 5:44
Location: Novi Sad
Country: RS Serbia (Србија)

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Saim » 2019-11-02, 10:05

If you tell me where I said that "consonant clusters are universally easy" and what made you conclude that I'm a native Slavic speaker I'll be very grateful.

Phonetic distance from your mother tongue does add difficulty, of course it does. I've never claimed otherwise because I don't generally make claims that I don't believe in and which directly contradict my lived experience. I've struggled remembering words full of rounded vowels in Hungarian, I still struggle to differentiate the second and third tone of Mandarin in multisyllabic words, and it took me quite a while to get a hang on remembering whether stressed vowels are short or long or whether consonants are retroflex or dental or whether they have aspiration in Urdu. It's something everyone goes through if they're interested in studying languages that are very different to their mother tongue, that's just what language learning is. That said, none of these things are impossible to acquire, they just take time and a minimal amount of effort directed towards the right things.

xBlackHeartx wrote:And I can assure you, your average Japanese speaker simply CANNOT manage the consonant clusters of English.


How many Japanese speakers then start fantasising about a form of English that doesn't have clusters and is more readily intelligible with Dutch?

And if the Slavic world sees no need for such a thing as Interslavic, then why does it exist?


Plenty of useless things exist. This is rather absurd logic.

Hardly anyone in the Slavic world has ever heard of Interslavic. It has got some more exposure in the last couple of weeks due to that one Radio Free Europe video that has been doing the rounds lately, so a lot of Slavs who follow language-related stuff on YouTube or Facebook will have heard of it by now. I think if you go out on the streets of Belgrade, Moscow or Warsaw and ask random people whether they've heard of Interslavic, you'll find that the vast majority of people will have no idea what you're talking about.

Now, I'm not against you or anyone else learning or using Interslavic. If you find it interesting go for it. What I'm telling you is that it's not a shortcut to understanding Slavic languages, because that takes time and lots of exposure, and it's going to be a lot more straightforward to expose yourself to natural languages with entire entertainment, publishing and news industries and real presence on social media than a language that has one film and one or two Facebook groups.

Because let's be honest, there's already more zonal auxlangs for the romance languages than anyone will ever need, and they're the only zonal auxlangs to ever really get anywhere.


Which zonal auxlangs would those be?

User avatar
Antea
Posts: 3454
Joined: 2015-08-23, 10:53
Real Name: c
Gender: female

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Antea » 2019-11-02, 12:36

I found the subject interesting, so I copy the link to two videos I found. One is an interview with the creator of the language, and it has English subtitles. And the other one is in Russian.

https://youtu.be/8BpixH088xg

https://youtu.be/whLyHzXImuI

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24650
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Taipei
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-08, 20:21

I've never even heard of Interslavic myself.

xBlackHeartx

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby xBlackHeartx » 2019-11-10, 2:34

Then why post if you have nothing to offer the discussion?

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 24650
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Taipei
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)
Contact:

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-11-13, 5:02

I mean, I speak some Slavic languages myself and am part of a forum that largely caters to conlangers and I've still never heard of it, so...it's not exactly essential. But anyway, IME just learning one Slavic language makes at least understanding (and of course learning/picking up) the others much easier.

User avatar
Antea
Posts: 3454
Joined: 2015-08-23, 10:53
Real Name: c
Gender: female

Re: How useful is Interslavic?

Postby Antea » 2020-02-02, 13:16

I just found a video trying an experiment with some Slavic languages native speakers.

https://youtu.be/j6FTxyM7ESk


Return to “General Language Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest