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I am going to be travelling through the western Balkans (specifically Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania) and would like to learn some of the spoken languages. As I will only be spending a matter of weeks in each country, I imagine would best to learn some of the common features of the languages and continue to learn as I go.

Despite its occasional innacuracy and over- simplification, I learn very well from Duolingo. However, they don't offer courses for any of these languages. I am therefore looking for languages that are similar (in all senses that are important for a little learning and conversation - words, grammar, alphabet etc.) to those in the South-Slavic group. I realise that there are some massive differences within the group anyway (e.g. Latin vs Cyrillic) so this is not the ideal approach, but I think it will be fine for my purposes.

The available languages that strike me as having potential for high linguistic similarity are Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Greek, Czech, Turkish and more likely Russian and Ukrainian. Which of these (if any) would be a good bet? Are there any other resources that do offer South-Slavic languages that might be better?

I am not someone to whom language learning comes particularly easily and don't have much time to do so, so I'm only looking to go to a basic level. I am a native English speaker and also speak Italian to an intermediate level.

Thanks!

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    Interslavic is for you! – AML Jul 13 '18 at 23:46
  • @AML Looks perfect from some initial research - thanks! Can you reccommend any learning resources? – jt78 Jul 14 '18 at 20:03
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    I'll look into it and make it an answer. – AML Jul 14 '18 at 20:59
  • NB: Hungarian and Turkish are not related to Slavic languages at all, and Greek and Romanian only very distantly. None of those will help you with South Slavic languages. – Mike Harris Jul 16 '18 at 14:55
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I suggest that you learn the constructed language called Interslavic. In fact, it would be a service to the community if you learned it well, used it for communication, and then reported the results.

Interslavic is a language for communication between Slavs of different nationalities, rooted in centuries of geographical proximity, shared history and common cultural heritage.

Each of the countries you are going to, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania, are Slavic-speaking aside from Albania. Since these are all South Slavic countries, one could argue that you should instead learn one of those language instead of Interslavic. This is not a bad idea. Serbian and Croatian are practically the same language, aside from their alphabets. Same for Macedonian and Bulgarian.

But the main reason I recommend Interslavic (specifically Slovianto - the grammar-simplified version) to you is because you said "I am not someone to whom language learning comes particularly easily and don't have much time to do so, so I'm only looking to go to a basic level". Since Interslavic is a constructed language, it is WAY easier to learn to a higher level. It is basically the Slavic version of Esperanto.

Here are some Interslavic resources:

Explore those links. If you decide to go for it, then join that community and find more resources.

EDIT: If you want to learn a real language and not a constructed language, then you need to pick one of three. There is (1) Slovenian, (2) Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian/Montenegrin, or (3) Bulgarian/Macedonian. I think they have similar learning difficulties, so pick one based on how much time you'll spend in the country or which interests you the most. That said, Bulgarian/Macedonian is arguably the "easiest" due to slightly simpler grammar.

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