How understandable are Serbian and Czech

Slavic languages

Information about individual Slavic languages


Belarusian is the state language of Belarus, which has been independent since 1991. However, a referendum in 1995 allowed Russian to be the second state language. In terms of the number of speakers, Belarusian is the smallest East Slavic language: there are around 8 million Belarusians in Belarus, and around 2 million more Belarusian speakers abroad. In older German publications (before '45) you can often read the terms Beloruthenian or Belorussian.


Bosnian is officially promoted in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina as the third official language alongside Serbian and Croatian. It is the language of around 1.8 million Muslim Bosnians.


The name Bulgarian comes from the name of a Turkic tribe; the old Turkish word for mongrel. Bulgarian is the official language of the Republic of Bulgaria and the mother tongue of around 9 million Bulgarians. Together with Macedonian, Bulgarian belongs to the eastern group of the South Slavic languages. Due to the influence of other Balkan languages, the case inflection of nouns and the infinitive was lost, and the narrative and the following article were introduced.


Kashubian is a small West Slavic language in northern Poland, west of Gdansk. It is used by around 50,000 speakers. There is a whole range of literary works in Kashubian.


Until the fall of Yugoslavia, the Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins and Muslims saw their language as a common, polycentric standard language. This was called Serbo-Croatian or Croatian-Serbian. Since gaining independence, this language has continued to split. Croatian has been the official language in Croatia since 1990. Since 1995, Croatian has also been recognized as one of the three official languages ​​of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There are approximately 5.5 million speakers.


The name comes from the Greek "Makedonia", which has also been used in Western Europe since the 19th century. Macedonian is the state language of the Republic of Macedonia, which was peacefully separated from the so-called Second Yugoslavia and has been independent since 1991. There are around 1.3 million speakers in the country itself and several hundred thousand emigrants who speak Macedonian as their mother tongue. The modern Macedonian standard language was not standardized until the end of World War II and made the official language in Macedonia.


The term Polish comes from * polje, which means "field". Polish is the third largest Slavic language (after Russian and Ukrainian) and is spoken by around 39 million people in the Republic of Poland and around 10 to 12 million Poles abroad.
Polish, along with Czech, Slovak, Kashubian and Sorbian, is one of the West Slavic languages.


Russian, which is also sometimes called Ruthenian, is a language with two major centers. According to some estimates, the so-called Carpathian Russian is spoken by around 850,000 speakers in the south-west of Ukraine, in the south-east of Poland, in the east of Slovakia and in the north of Hungary. It is divided into three larger standard groups (Slovak, Transcarpathian and Polish), each using its own alphabet and norms. The so-called Jugoslavo-Russian is spoken by around 23,000 speakers in Croatia and Serbia (especially Vojvodina). These Russian speakers were resettled in the course of a resettlement of parts of the population from what is now Eastern Slovakia to the areas liberated from the Turks. The written Yugoslavian language only developed in the 20th century, but is now fully established and is becoming increasingly widespread. Our sample text is from Yugoslavo-Russian.


With around 150 million speakers, Russian is the largest Slavic language and the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe. In addition, Russian is one of the five lingua franca of the UN. Russian is the official language of the Russian Federation and is used as an international means of communication between peoples within the Russian Federation. It is also used in the CIS countries.


After the break-up of Yugoslavia, the Serbian variant of the previously common language Serbo-Croatian was written as "Serbian" in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Serbia is also the official language in the Serbian Republic, the second entity of the Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The number of speakers is 12.5 million.


When it comes to Sorbian, a distinction is made between Upper and Lower Sorbian. Upper Sorbian is mainly spoken in Saxony and Bautzen, while Lower Sorbian is spoken in Lower Lusatia. It is assumed that there are around 55,000 Upper Sorbian speakers and 12,000 Lower Sorbian speakers. All Sorbian speakers are bilingual Sorbian-German. Intensive language maintenance is carried out, especially for Upper Sorbian, and there is even teacher training in Potsdam and Leipzig. Upper Sorbian has a strong dialectal differentiation. A special feature is the existence of a Protestant and Catholic orthographic variant, which were officially standardized in 1945, but still exist in religious texts today.


The name Slovak comes from * slovo (= "word") and means something like "people of our language".

Slovak is spoken by around 5 million people in the Slovak Republic, which has been an independent state since the collapse of Czechoslovakia in 1993. There are also Slovak speakers in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Serbia.


The name Slovenian comes from * slovo (= "word") and means something like "people of our language"

Slovenian is spoken by around 1.75 million Slovenes in the Republic of Slovenia, which has been independent since 1991. Slovenian can look back on a long historical tradition. The famous "Freising monuments", one of the earliest Slavic language monuments, which were created around the year 1000, already show clear Slovenian features. What is striking is the extremely strong dialectal fissure of Slovenian, which has numerous dialect forms that are no longer understandable to one another.


The name of the language is derived either from 'četa', "troop", or from 'čeljad', "servant".
Czech is spoken by around 10.5 million people in the Czech Republic and around 1 million Czechs abroad. What is specific about today's language situation is the pronounced opposition between spoken and written language.


Ukraine comes from * kraj, which means border, borderland
Ukrainian is the state language of the Republic of Ukraine, which has been independent since 1991, and the second largest Slavic language (after Russian). Of the approx. 52 million inhabitants of Ukraine, 73% belong to the Ukrainian titular nation. 22% are Russians who live mainly in the east of the country and in the Crimea. Ukrainian used to be known as Little Russian or Ruthenian. However, Little Russian in particular is associated with tsarist reprisals against Ukrainian. Ukrainian, along with Russian and Belarusian, is one of the East Slavic languages.