Slavic similiarities

While talking with a Bulgarian contact today, we were discussing the conjugation of the verb ‘to juggle’ in Bulgarian, as you do, and I was struck by how similar Bulgarian verb endings are to Czech ones. Below is the present tense of this verb with the Bulgarian on the left and the Czech on the right.

  • жонглирам (žongliram) / žonglovam – I juggle
  • жонглираш (žongliraš) / žonglov – you juggle
  • жонглира (žonglira) / žonglova – he/she/it juggles
  • жонглираmе (žonglirame) / žonglovame – we juggle
  • жонглирате (žonglirate) / žonglovate – you (pl) juggle
  • жонглират (žonglirat) / žonglovají – they juggle

The more I learn about the Slavic languages, the more similarities I see between them. So far my knowledge is limited to a smattering of Russian, a little Czech, and a few Bulgarian words, so my impressions and thoughts may change as I learn more. One encouraging factoid I’ve discovered is that Czech only has about seven irregular verbs.

I also came across an interesting site today which contains useful words and phrases in a number of Slavic languages, with translations in English and Japanese.

Correction: the Czech conjugation of the verb ‘to juggle’ is actually:

  • žongluji – I juggle
  • žongluješ – you juggle
  • žongluje – he/she/it juggles
  • žonglujeme – we juggle
  • žonglujete – you (pl) juggle
  • žonglují – they juggle

There are Czech verbs with endings similar to the Bulgarian ones above, but not ‘to juggle’, unfortunately.

This entry was posted in Czech, Language, Language learning.

18 Responses to Slavic similiarities

  1. Polly says:

    It looks like the above verbs are using some kind of verb-making ending, especially Czech. In Russian it’s жонглировать, practically the same word.

    One handy little “verb-inator” in Russian that probably has an analog in other Slavic languages is the ending “-ovat.” e.g. Blokirovat = “to Block” While I don’t know if that is “official” Russian, it was introduced to me by a native speaker.
    Conjugation of these verb types is pretty standard. And there’s nothing that comes as more of a relief in Russian than something reliably STANDARD.

  2. Josh says:

    Thanks for the link to the site Simon. I just started dabbling in Russian and that’s a fairly useful beginner’s site!

  3. BnB says:

    The same thing happens in Latin languages (with French being somewhat different… they ALWAYS have to be different 🙂 ).

    “We speak”:
    spanish “hablamos”
    portuguese “falamos” (I think)
    italian “parlamo”

  4. prase says:

    In fact, the correct czech endings are: žongluji, žongluješ, žongluje, žonglujeme, žonglujete, žonglují. Endings -ám, -áš, -á, -áme, -áte, -ají are suitable e.g. for the verb dělat (to do).

  5. Giovanni says:

    it is “parliamo” since the verb belongs to the first conjugation (-are).

  6. As I usually say, “When you know enough languages, you often get two for the price of one”. In my case, knowing Portuguese, Spanish, French and some Italian, Catalan comes practically for free (only at the moment I can’t seem to put up what little effort it takes to go the last 10cm). Galician was a pleasant surprise, as it is little more (in my view) than a possible dialect of Portuguese which happens to be a different language because it’s spoken on the other side of the frontier. A common occurrence, by the way, as witness Dutch-Flemish, Hindi-Urdu, Romanian-Moldavian, Asturian-Mirandese (there’s exoticism for you!) etc.
    Knowing German and English enables me to read Dutch [and Flemish ;-)] with… say… 80% accuracy, sometimes more.
    And so on.

  7. BnB: I believe it’s “parliamo” in Italian. And in French (quite differently!) “nous parlons”. If I’m not mistaken, “falamos” is Galician too.

  8. Geoff says:

    What I find most striking is not the similarities between the Russian and Czech, but the similarities between the endings and those for Latin and Italian. Going one step further, look at Czech, Latin, Italian and German:

    I am: jsem / sum / sono / bin (oops!)
    night: noc / noctis / notte / Nacht
    two: dva / duo / due / zwei
    I: já / ego / io / ich
    you: ty / tu / tu / du

    That we have an Indo-European family is not, of course, any big news. And some correspondences are more helpful (or just plain in existence) than others. Still, just as we pick up some languages for free (Spanish for Italian, Dutch for German), if you’re learning an Indo-European language a little more removed from others you’ve studied, it’s still neat to see what words and structures you can find “on discount”.

  9. Ben L. says:

    Dutch is never free.

  10. BG says:

    Even Ancient Greek (on the end):

    I am: jsem / sum / sono / bin (oops!) / ειμι (eimi)
    night: noc / noctis / notte / Nacht / νυξ (nyx)
    two: dva / duo / due / zwei / δυο (duo)
    I: já / ego / io / ich / εγω (egō)
    you: ty / tu / tu / du / συ (sy)

    Even Finnish (Non Indo-European has similarities.
    Verb to be conjugated:
    minä olen
    sinä olet
    hän on
    me olemme
    te olette
    he ovat

  11. Polly says:

    Even Armenian matches up with the slavic conjugations pretty closely though it’s completely unrelated to Slavic. And the pronouns “I” and “you” are similar between Latin, Slavic, and “other.”

    I am = Yes em (Ես եմ)
    You are = Toon es

    I read = Yes gu gartAM
    you read = Toon gu gartAS
    He/she reads = Ahn gu gartA

    The number 10: diez, dix, dieci, տասը(dahsuh)

    But, that’s to be expected if Indoeuropean lang’s trace back to one common ancestor. I don’t know, I’m not a historian or a linguist.

  12. Tanya says:

    Pretty interesting indeed, although the correct 1p. pl. form is жонглираме. There’s a certain similarities between Bulgarian and Greek also. For example the plural forms:

    1p. pl. отиваме (otivame) πηγαίνουμε (pigenoume)
    2p. pl. отивате (otivate) πηγαίνετε (pigenate)

    And two more things I’d like to mention about the site. Cyrillic alphabet is not equal to Russian alphabet and the Russian denomination of Cyrillic symbols is written below. Actually Cyrillic was used for the very first time in the ancient Bulgarian capital Преслав (Preslav) and subsequently spread over other parts of Eastern Europe. Later on Russia performs an orthographic reform. It’s quite interesting they’ve used some kind of runes before the change.

    I have interest in Bulgarian, Modern Greek and Norwegian exclusively and would be very happy if I find twin souls in here. Really intriguing site and blog, congrats!: )

  13. Stanislav says:


    žongluji OR žongluju žonglujeme

    žongluješ žonglujete

    žongluje žonglují

  14. Prvud says:

    That is not bulgarian it is macedonian
    Blogiram, Blogiras, Blogira—-Blogirame, Blogirate , BlogirAAT( no BlogirAT)

  15. Tanya says:

    Many linguists consider Macedonian a dialect of Bulgarian with a great deal of justification.

    No differences can be observed if talking about verb endings. Just archaic Bulgarian forms.

  16. Rhin says:

    Actually I am interested in Bulgarian and South Slavic Linguistics. However I have an advantage, I am a Bulgarian.

    And I agree about the Macedonian but I think that might have have to do with being raised to think of it as a dialect.

  17. aseq says:

    Ronald Kyrmse said above:

    “A common occurrence, by the way, as witness Dutch-Flemish, Hindi-Urdu, Romanian-Moldavian, Asturian-Mirandese (there’s exoticism for you!) etc.”

    In this case, the example with Romanian-Moldovan is wrong. Romanian and Moldovan are 100% identical. Nobody claims any of them even being a dialect of the other, though the Soviet regime tried to fabricate words just to be different. There is one very minor rule in spelling, and that’s the only difference between them.

  18. Michal Tomlein says:

    I’m not quite sure about this, but I heard that the Latin word for “I am”, “sum”, was originally spelled “som”, later “esom” and only then “sum”. This seems very similar to the Slovak “som” with the same meaning (Czech: “jsem”).
    Another thing which I find fascinating is the verb “to see” in Latin and Slovak (or Czech).
    EN – LAT – SK – CZ
    to see – videre – vidieť – vidět
    I see – video – vidím – vidím
    you see – vides – vidíš – vidíš
    he/she/it sees – videt – vidí – vidí
    we see – videmus – vidíme – vidíme
    you see – videtis – vidíte – vidíte
    they see – vident – vidia – vidí

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