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What are Slavic languages?

The Slavic languages form a main branch of the Indo-European languages. Around 300 million native speakers worldwide speak one of the approximately 20 Slavic languages, including Russian, Polish and Ukrainian. In linguistics, languages are usually divided into the main groups of East Slavic, West Slavic and South Slavic.

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Slavic languages – Key facts

With around 300 million speakers, the Slavic language family is the third largest, just after the Germanic and Romance languages. The most widely spoken Slavic language is by far Russian. The modern Slavic languages are spoken mainly in Eastern and Central Europe, in parts of the Balkans and in Northern Asia. Both the Latin alphabet (e.g. Czech, Slovak and Polish) and the Cyrillic alphabet (e.g. Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian) are used.

Origin of the Slavic languages

In linguistics, it is assumed that the Slavic languages have their origins in Original Slavic, which is also called Proto-Slavic. East Slavic, West Slavic and South Slavic first evolved during the 1st century A.D. Later on, there were apparently further migrations that shaped the present diversity of languages.

The most important East Slavic languages

Russian: The Russian language is one of the 12 world languages. It is based on the Cyrillic alphabet and is therefore not so easy for Western Europeans to learn. The closest “relatives” are Belarusian and Ukrainian. Belarusian: Belarusian is spoken by more than 2 million people in Belarus, the second official language is Russian. Both languages are based on the Cyrillic alphabet and are relatively well understood among themselves. Ukrainian: The Ukrainian language is the official language of Ukraine and is spoken there as a mother tongue by around 32 million people. There are complex grammatical rules and some hard-to-pronounce words that challenge learners.

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FAQ: More questions about Slavic languages

Which Slavic languages are there?

There are around 20 Slavic languages, including some subgroups and dialects. The East Slavic languages include Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian and West Polish. West Slavic languages are Polish, Slovak and Czech. South Slavic languages include Bulgarian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Croatian, Molise Slavic, Montenegrin, Serbian, Slovenian and Resian.

Where does the Slavic language come from?

Science assumes that the Slavic languages developed from the original Slavic, which in turn descended from the original Indo-European languages.

What is the easiest Slavic language?

Bulgarian is often called the easiest Slavic language because there are no grammatical cases. The basic requirement, however, is learning the Cyrillic alphabet.

How does Russian differ from other Slavic languages?

Russian is based on the Cyrillic alphabet and thus differs from Latin-based languages such as Polish, Czech or Slovak. Those who speak Russian will understand many words of other Slavic languages.

What is Old Church Slavonic?

Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic is the name given to the oldest written Slavonic language used by Greek Orthodox Slavic peoples. The language was recorded in Cyrillic script.

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