Czech vs. Russian

Discussion in 'General Language' started by lindak, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. lindak

    lindak Member

    Hello! I have been taking Russian lessons for about 2 years, mainly because no one in my area teaches Czech. I am hoping to go to the Czech Republic next year to visit relatives (my grandfather was from Zadveƙice). I know there are similarities between Czech and Russian, since they are both Slavic languages. I'm wondering if it would be more useful for me to continue with the Russian lessons, or to try to teach myself some Czech (or both). Does anyone have any advice on this?
  2. hribecek

    hribecek Well-Known Member

    Czech people might understand the jist of what your saying if you're speaking Russian slowly (older Czechs better because they had to study it at school during communism) but you will barely understand a word of what they're saying in return.
    They are both slavic languages but they are way too different for one of them to work in both countries. If you're learning azbuka then you should know that Czechs don't use it at all.
    Unless you're planning to go to Russia too or maybe to Karlovy Vary then it's pretty much not worth learning Russian in order to visit the Czech Republic.
    I'm sure you'll pick up Czech quicker than a normal English speaker because you've learned Russian and so will understand the cases better and there'll be a lot of similar words.
    Also, you might not be received too well by Czechs if you're speaking to them in Russian because of the obvious old wounds.
  3. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I agree totally with what hribecek said. Note, I speak both Russian and Czech as foreign (to me at least) languages. While there are a number of similarities in word roots, grammar (declensions, phraseology etc.), there are many differences, e.g. in accents, specific declension endings, conjugation forms, idioms, etc.

    Having learned some Russian before starting Czech, I found that it helped me some, yet hampered me in other ways (in the immortal words of Yoda, I had to "unlearn what I had learned" :lol: ).

    Some ways that knowing Russian helped me with Czech:
    1) Understanding the basics of noun/adjective declension and agreement with gender/number--Czech only adds one case (vocative), which is in principle the easiest one to learn.
    2) Recognizing root and prefix meanings (many of these are similar, but not all)

    Ways it hurt:
    1) Many times a Russian word with a similar root has a different meaning in Czech or doesn't exist in Czech, and when you say them, you'll get the same blank stares I get. :)
    2) When I started learning Czech, I often got Russian and Czech declension and conjugation forms mixed up.

    My advice: If you want to learn Russian, continue your studies. If your end goal is to learn Czech, and you look on your Russian studies as a means to that end, stop Russian and start independent study of Czech, best with audio tapes/files if possible. This will help you develop an ear for the language (which, by the way, studying Russian will neither help nor hurt with), plus build a vocabulary and basic conversational phrases. I don't think that study of Russian beyond the 2 years you've already will help you any more with Czech, since you've likely already learned enough of the basics that you've probably gone beyond the point of shared similarities between the two languages (with the lone exception perhaps of shared roots).

    Hope this helps!
  4. lindak

    lindak Member

    Thank you both for the great advice. I think at this point I am going to discontinue the Russian and start with the Czech.
  5. Tagarela

    Tagarela Well-Known Member


    For me it was likely the opposite. I intened to learn Russian, but as I found out that I had more chances to visit Czech Republic firstly, I took Czech language. I've been studying it for about seven months. And when I know Czech well, I still intend to learn Russian.

    Althought I don't know any of the languages well, (I'm just a begging in Czech and know some Russians words and expressions), I agree with what was said here. Also, I guess that it, knowing Russian first, may help you with some concepts, as the verb aspect things. But I was told that there are a lot of false friends between the two friends.

    Try to watch film "Kolya" it has some nice puns on Czech-Russian.

    Hey, and don't completly abandon your Russian...since you've had some work on it... try to keep what you've learnt, it may be usefull one day =)

    Na shledanou.:

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