How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

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How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby Dtmont » Thu Aug 20, 2020 10:02 pm

How does Macedonian compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty? Does the lack of most cases make up for it's complicated verb system? How does the verb system compare to the Romance language verbs systems?
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby David27 » Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:58 pm

Disclaimer: I’ve learned Russian, studied A bit of Polish, very little Ukrainian and Czech, and had a look at Serbian and Bulgarian, so not the most qualified person here. But from my observations I find Bulgarian (and likely therefore Macedonian) to be the easiest grammatically, and since Slavic grammar is a big hurdle for native English speakers, it’s a bit easier than the others in the family. That being said I still find in the long run Russian to be the easiest, not because of the language but because it is more accessible with more resources and media to keep you motivated and to use to reach a higher level of fluency.
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby Longinus » Fri Aug 21, 2020 11:10 am

I'm not an expert on Macedonian, but I did spend about six weeks working in Macedonia as a consultant for the Ministry of Health, and managed to learn enough to communicate in basic situations like shopping, ordering in restaurants, or work interactions. The thing that gave me the most trouble in speaking were the indirect and direct object clitics, not the verb system. (Verbs in Macedonian are slightly easier than in Bulgarian, BTW.) While Macedonian and Bulgarian have a reputation for being the easiest to learn of the Slavic languages, there's not a big difference, and it will still be substantially harder than German or a Romance language for an English speaker.

There aren't a tremendous number of resources for learning Macedonian, but there are some beginner textbooks. You can find a few Macedonian TV series on YouTube, the one that I found most useful for learning was Makedonski Narodni Prikazni. I had little luck with audiobooks -- the only thing I could find was an audio New Testament, although it was very useful.
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby tarvos » Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:00 pm

They just have a reputation for being easier because of the lack of cases, but they have terrible verb tables to make up for it. Honestly, I don't think it really matters which Slavic language you pick to learn. I learned Russian first and that went just fine, then I went with Czech and Polish and that also went just fine.
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby FyrsteSumarenINoreg » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:07 pm

Macedonian vs Croatian syntax...
Macedonian has so many verbal tenses, which are in actual use, but archaic in Croatian...Due to reductions in morphology, Macedonian is prone to syntactic acrobatics which makes it very idiomatic but unpredictable. :D Aforementioned clitics are a nightmare. And you never know the differences between 3 way demonstrative adjectives/pronouns and subject pronouns. :mrgreen: But, for me, it is an easy language to understand without having studied it. It is, in my view, the best sounding Slavic language too. Bulgarian is more difficult for me to understand due to vowel reductions and clipping.
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby Iversen » Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:39 pm

I have studied Russian, Polish, Slovak, Serbian and Bulgarian without ever become fluent in any of them - but I do have a reasonably solid foundation for having an opinionated opinion about each of them. I have also sometimes looked at texts or wordbooks or grammars in some of the others, but honestly I have not much to say about Macedonian (nor Slovenian, nor either of the Sorbians - and Ukrainian only from a few wordlists).

But my impression of Bulgarian is that the only really hard thing about this language is the complicated play between the verbal form aorist (with its related compound forms) and the notion of perfect aspect. Even though I had been poring over Bulgarian texts I still don't understand the semantic difference between these grammatical entities in Bulgarian. And this has the practical consequence that I don't have as clear a picture of where the perfective and imperfect verbs are used or which forms you can be allowed to form from them. Compared to this the lack of a proper infinitive is a minor problem - I know the same thing from Greek, albeit the verbs in Greek are easier to grasp and learn than those in Bulgarian.

As for the postclitic definite articles I know them from Danish, but they are used more often and in more varied circumstances in Bulgarian than in Danish. However here there is a simple rule: in Bulgarian anything with a -t at the end is likely to be a substantive or adjective with a postclitic article. However I have also had a peek at the Wikipedia article about Macedonian, and it seems that the definite articles there are more complicated - three different series against one in Bulgarian. Romanian and Albanian also have postclitic articles so it is part of being a member of a Sprachbund, but the t'ism is specifically Bulgarian.

The other Slavic languages don't have articles (including definite one), but in Serbian there is a thing about specific and nonspecific adjectivs which I haven't really understood yet, in spite of several years of periodic study wawes.

At the end of the day all languages have their perks, and Bulgarian isn't exempt from THAT rule, but the fortress can be conquered.
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby EGP » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:02 pm

I cannot answer this question at all sorry, but wonder if you won't mind me sharing something about my Macedonian.

When I signed up here I thought about what level I would give myself for Macedonian. That's hard! Even as a language teacher for most of my working life...

My speaking and listening are very strong to be able to discuss general topics. I can watch and understand 95% of the Makedonski prikazki mentioned above. My parents are often watching them and I often discuss the show with them at ease. But when they change the channel to the news. Oh boy! I realise my Macedonian is slow and old. That TV show I believe is rather dated. Even when I went to Macedonia in 2000 the people I spoke with said my Macedonian sounded 'old fashioned' and others asked if I was from Albania. So yeah, I am probably stuck in a pocket of the language here in Australia. I can talk to the Macedonian community here in Australia, and like fish in water, we don't notice anything.

I also laugh my head off when I listen to my parents throwing in English words with bits of Macedonian morphemes. "Odnesi gi binovite" = Take out the bins.

Having said that I do also get surprised watching Macedonian TV shows and hearing so many English words added to the language.

As for Bulgarian, I remember listening to my dad talking to a Bulgarian and being more lost than when he's speaking to Serbians or Croatians. Maybe it's just an exposure thing.

Finally, I have thought about improving my Macedonian, but as mentioned, the resources aren't that great. There's only a small population, so it's not surprising and for me in Australia, there is no real motivation to advance.

The only thing I can say that is easy about Macedonian is reading it. I learnt Cyrillic in a few days as a kid. Compare that to English spelling!!!! I still make spelling mistakes in English!
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby EGP » Wed Mar 31, 2021 4:47 am

I just want to throw a brief extra bit of info here after talking to my dad today, who grew up in Strumica a city near the border of Bulgaria.

So there is a part of Bulgaria Macedonians call Pirinska Makedonija (not to get political please) but this was the part that used to be Macedonia at some stage. So therefore those that lived there spoke according to my dad what he could understand easily. When I asked him about the standard Bulgarian, he said it is much further from the now "northern" Macedonian. Serbian is much closer.

Which confirmed what I said earlier that I can understand much more Serbian than I can Bulgarian. But to be honest it's just a big mess in my head because my mum is from a village in the North of Skopje and that would make sense as to why I have more exposure to crossovers with Serbian.

over and out :)
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Re: How does Macedonian(or Bulgarian) compare to the other Slavic languages in terms of difficulty?

Postby Iversen » Thu Apr 01, 2021 1:01 am

I remember the first time I heard and understood Bulgarian: I was sitting at the busstation in Varna, and then I heard over the loudspeaker that there was an immediate departure to Veliko Trnogo. Actually I had not planned to go there (I think I had expected to go to Plovdiv, which I had visited many years before), but then I took a quick decision and jumped into the bus to Veliko Trnogo. Since then I have been on a trip to Burkina Faso and Mali with a group that partly consisted of Bulgarians - and when there was some trouble about the accommodation they showed me their information materials in Bulgarian, and I could see that the conditions in the Bulgarian weren't the same as in the Danish text. But I couldn't understand what the Bulgarians said when they spoke to each other. However when I recently listened to some Youtube videos from Ecolinguist I could follow the Bulgarian lady rather well.

I also remember the first time I worked on a sizeable written text in Bulgarian. It was an article about the Bulgarian Copper age (centuries before the Bronze age and one of the first advanced cultures in Europe), and I was surprised that it was so easy to understand. At the time I knew some Russian, and I had also worked quite a bit on my Serbian so those were of course the reasons that I didn't have more trouble with Bulgarian. I still find it easier than both Polish and Slovakian, which I later have started to study, but I am on the other hand sure that my feeble attempts to write in it are full of errors..

I have of course also been to Macedonia, but before I really started to study Bulgarian so I can't compare the two languages - I just know that there are some differences in the alphabets.
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