Frequently asked questions

Često postavjane pytanja


How to learn and use Interslavic?
Is it true that all Slavs can understand Interslavic?
How many people speak Interslavic?
Latin or Cyrillic?
How can I write Interslavic on my own keyboard?
What are those weird diacritics and letters some people use in Interslavic?
Ⰿⰵⰴⰶⱆⱄⰾⱁⰲⱑⱀⱄⰽⱏⰹ ⱗⰸⱏⰹⰽ???
Help! I can't find a word!
Interslavic and . . .   (English · Russian · Esperanto · Slovio · Old Church Slavonic)

How to learn and use Interslavic?

This depends very much on what your needs are, and also on whether you are a Slav yourself. If you want to write a text in Interslavic, there is no need to really learn it. All you need is the grammar and the dictionary. Don't be afraid that the result will be bad, because there is no such thing as bad Interslavic: remember that Interslavic is not a hermetic language, but rather a set of recommendations you can follow at will. If you try to follow them, the result will in all likeliness be better than if you don't.

To become proficient in Interslavic, you will of course have to learn it. If you are Slavic or at least have good knowledge of one or more Slavic languages, this is is pretty a much a matter of gradually learning how to modify your own language in order to make it more accessible for other Slavs. Our experience is that most people quickly and easily find out how to do this by simply reading and listening. Of course, reading the grammar and/or the tutorial can help, too!
If you are new to the Slavic languages, you obviously cannot take any existing Slavic language as a starting point. A beginner's course is in preparation, but in the meantime, just read the grammar and the afore-mentioned tutorial carefully. You can also start with learning Slovianto, a highly simplified form of Interslavic that allows you to start communicating on a very basic level, while gradually enlarging your knowledge and skills.

When it comes to speaking, one has always to remember that communication is not just a matter of language. The non-verbal part is equally important. When you try to use Interslavic in a conversation, always make sure that the person you are talking to actually understands you. Speak slowly, keep eye-contact, articulate well, and always be a good listener.

Is it true that all Slavs can understand Interslavic?

The short anser is: no. There is a lot of Pan-Slavic vocabulary, but if all Slavic languages used the same words, there would be no need for a separate Interslavic language. All we have done is selecting words that are understandable to the largest number of Slavic nations. Inevitably, some words are more geared towards East or West, North or South. If a writer consistently uses words that are best understood by one particular half of the Slavic population, this will automatically lead to better results in this particular half and worse results in the other.

Understanding Interslavic is largely a matter of understanding the general meaning of a sentence even without understanding some individual words. This requires a certain level of intelligence and experience. People who have problems understanding their own language when written or pronounced slightly differently, cannot reasonably be expected to understand the same text in a language like Interslavic. Any Interslavic text will inevitably contain words that a Slavic speaker cannot link to his own language, and the ability to fill in these lexical gaps varies from person to person. Every now and then, discussions take place on the Internet about about some Interslavic text fragment, and the answers are often conflicting: one person claims to understand every single word, while another person of the same nationality understands only 40%.

Also, listening to a language one does not actively know requires a level of concentration that can be achieved only if the listener is willing to cooperate. A person who has something to gain from the conversation will try harder than a person who is tired, annoyed and uninterested. The speaker should always help the listener as much as possible by speaking slowly and clearly, constantly being aware of the fact that the listener needs some time for processing.

All we can say for certain is that a vast majority of those who have commented on Interslavic or participated in our research projects can understand texts in written or spoken Interslavic reasonably well. There are no huge differences in intelligibility between speakers of different Slavic languages, except that Czechs and Slovaks score a bit higher and South Slavs a bit lower than average. What we do know, however, is that there is correlation between people's capability to understand Interslavic and their level of education.

How many people speak Interslavic?

This question is notoriously difficult to answer, because there is no reliable method for collecting and verifying this kind of demographic information. Constructed languages rarely appear in censuses. Even if we knew for sure that – for example – there are 100 fluent speakers in the Czech Republic, such knowledge wouldn’t tell us anything about other countries. Besides, what level of fluency qualifies a person as a speaker, and how can this be measured? Typically, constructed languages – Interslavic being no exception – are mostly used for written communication. But with the help of a grammar and a dictionary, anyone can scribble down a few reasonably acceptable sentences, and even those who can write in the language with some ease are not necessarily able to actually speak it fluently. For that reason, it is better to avoid the word „speaker” altogether and resort to the term „users” instead.

The only objective data available are figures about the membership of organisations and Internet communities, and indeed, these figures are often used as indicators for the userbase of other constructed languages, too. In the case of Interslavic, there are many different groups on various social media where Interslavic is the primary language of communication, some of which are dedicated to particular subjects (like poetry, politics, gaming, linguistics, Slavic culture). Largest are our main groups on Facebook (20,326 members by the end of December 2023), Discord (8,041 members) and VKontakte (2,256 members), but apart from those, there are at least five other groups on Facebook, three on Discord, six on Telegram, one on VKontakte and one on Reddit, as well as a mailing list and a forum. In addition, we have official channels on YouTube (41,300 subscribers) and Tiktok (143,200 followers, 1.1 million likes). We do not know how much overlap there is between these groups, nor do we know how many people use the language without being part of an Internet community. Another thing to consider is that a member of a group is not necessarily an active user of the language. Internet activity has a way of being volatile: one mouse click is enough to join a group, but many of those who did never even read its content, let alone participate in the conversations.

Based on the figures mentioned above, we may assume that our community currently numbers some 25,000 people (including inactive members and interested bystanders). It would be undoable to establish the number of people who use or have used the Interslavic language actively and regularly, but we estimate that roughly 7,000 people have some degree of active command of the language. More detailed demographic data are provided by Facebook: 71% of the members of our largest group are men, 29% are women. All ages are represented, but only 2% of the members are younger than 18 and only 4% are older than 65. The group has members from more than 125 countries, about 70% of whom live in countries with a Slavic-speaking majority (mostly Poland, Serbia, Russia, Czechia, Croatia and Ukraine).

Latin or Cyrillic?

It's an old yet neverending discussion: which alphabet should Interslavic use? Cyrillic has the advantage that it was created specifically for Slavic, and in addition, it is officially used in six national languages, roughly covering three quarters of the Slavic population. The Latin alphabet, on the other hand, is more flexible when it comes to matters of transliteration, and most speakers of languages that use Cyrillic are familiar with it anyway. The fact remains that the border between Latin and Cyrillic runs straight through the middle of Slavic-speaking territory, and it would be unfair to make one alphabet prevail over the other. Therefore, Latin and Cyrillic are treated equally in Interslavic: both are equally suitable for the language, and both are equally correct.

Both Interslavic orthographies were designed as a compromise between the various national orthographies, and intended to be intuitively intelligible. Although alternative solutions are offered to make writing Interslavic possible on any Slavic keyboard, users are strongly encouraged to stick to these standard alphabets, because the use multiple conflicting writing standards may confuse and even discourage people learning Interslavic.

As rule, just use the alphabet you feel most comfortable with. But since both alphabets are used frequently, sometimes even within the same conversation, it would be helpful to know both alphabets. If necessary, the transliteration tool can help you with reading Interslavic text. You can also use it when you need to switch between alphabets because of your target audience.

When a very large and diverse group of people is being addressed, for example in official communication, news items and the like, it may deserve recommendation to present the same text in both alphabets.

How can I write Interslavic on my own keyboard?

There are several solutions for this. Standard Interslavic can be written on a Czech keyboard, simplified Interslavic (i.e. without Ě and Y) also on a Croatian, Serbian or Slovenian keyboard. On Windows the letter Ě is available on the latter three as well: just press <Alt-2>, followed by E/e.
Simplified Cyrillic can be written on a Serbian Cyrillic keyboard. For standard Cyrillic you'll need the letters Ы from Russian and Є from Ukrainian.

Other possibilities:

If you find all this too complicated, it is of course possible to substitute problematic letters with letters available on you own keyboard, too. For example, Poles can write CZ instead of Č, East Slavs and Bulgarians can write Й instead of J, etc. For details, see representation of problematic characters. Remember that such variants might have a negative impact on intelligibility.
For ad hoc use, you can always use the transliterator or the extended transliterator (for standard and etymological orthography respectively) to get the desired result.

What are those weird diacritics and letters some people use in Interslavic?

The Interslavic Latin alphabet has four letters with a diacritic: Č, Š and Ž (used in all Slavic languages with Latin orthographies except Polish) as well as Ě (used in Czech and Sorbian, representing a „ye” sound). However, in some texts, but also in the dictionary, you may encounter letters like Å, Đ, Ȯ, Ŕ and Ų. These letters are optional extensions of the standard alphabet and belong to the Interslavic etymological alphabet. They convey additional information about etymology and pronunciation. For those whose languages have a richer phonology (like Russian and Polish), they make it easier to link Interslavic words to words in their own language. For example, when a Russian or Ukrainian sees the letter Ę, he can be practically certain that the equivalent in his own language is Я, while a Pole can recognise it as Polish or .

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it if you don’t know how and when to use these letters. They are not mandatory and Interslavic written in standard orthography is by no means inferior to Interslavic with these additions. So don’t feel intimidated by these diacritics, even if you feel that they make Interslavic look like Vietnamese! You can simply ignore them, pretending they are not there at all: in normal Interslavic, the equivalent of such a letter is always the same letter without the diacritic (with two exceptions: Ć and Đ should be read as Č and ).

Please be aware that these diacritics can be confusing for new members of our community, and make Interslavic look more complicated than it is. Interslavic is extremely flexible by its very nature, allowing much freedom to its users, but most people expect a language with fixed rules: too much freedom makes it hard for newcomers to learn and practise Interslavic. For that reason, users are asked not to use this extended alphabet in daily conversations, and if they choose to do so anyway, to make it sure that they won’t confuse the reader.

Although the aforementioned etymological alphabet works for the Latin alphabet only, some people use archaic Cyrillic equivalents like Ѣ, Ѧ and Ѫ. Since those letters are unknown to most readers, using them in practical communication is not only pointless, but also contrary to the very purpose of Interslavic. For that reason, we strongly discourage users from using Cyrillic equivalents of the etymological alphabet.

Ⰿⰵⰴⰶⱆⱄⰾⱁⰲⱑⱀⱄⰽⱏⰹ ⱗⰸⱏⰹⰽ???

You might incidentally stumble upon these weird-looking letters. Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with your computer. In case you are wondering, this is an example of the Glagolitic alphabet, which was originally devised for the Old Church Slavonic language in the 9th century but later supplanted by Cyrillic. Few people can read it nowadays. Nevertheless, it is sometimes used inofficially in Interslavic, for decorative purposes or simply for fun.

Help! I can't find a word!

Interslavic is an ongoing project and it is quite possible that you won't find a word you are looking for in the dictionary. If that is the case, try looking for synonyms first. If that doesn't work either, this is what you can do:

Interslavic and English

One recurring argument in discussions about Interslavic and artificial languages in general is this: why would anyone learn it, since we already have English as a world language?

That is undeniably true, and if you think you can get by with English in the Slavic world, then by all means do. We surely won't try to stop you! However, please consider that things are rarely that simple in Central and Eastern Europe. Many people in that part of the world are completely monolingual, and even those who claim to know English often won't be able to produce more than just a few broken sentences in it. That is especially true at the countryside, but in cities, shops and even hotels this situation is far from exceptional either. In general, the further East you travel, the worse it gets. In the Russian Federation, for example, only 5.5 % of the population can speak English (according to the 2010 census). Although this situation is likely to improve in the future, it will take many decades before English will be really helpful to those visiting the region.
Let's not forget that English is a highly specific language, whose cultural background, semantics, syntax, spelling etc. are radically different from the Slavic languages. This is also why computer translations via Google Translate between Czech and Polish or Croatian are unusable, often even absurd and ridiculous. English is simply too different from the Slavic languages to serve as a pivot language or an auxiliary language on Slavic territory.
Another thing is that many Slavs find it sort of shameful to communicate with their fellow Slavs in English.
Of course, Interslavic is not the ultimate solution to these problems. Understanding it will always require some effort and a certain level of intelligence on the part of the reader or listener. But Interslavic at least makes it possible to communicate on a basic level with monolingual people in any Slavic-speaking country. And if you use Interslavic in writing, you can make yourself understood to readers in many different countries, no matter whether they know other languages beside their own.

Interslavic and Russian

It has been argued by some that it is a shame if Slavs use English to communicate with other Slavs. Wouldn't Russian, the mother tongue of almost half of the Slavs and understood by almost half the other half, be a natural lingua franca for Slavic people?

Russian is well worth learning, but it is not exactly an easy language to master. Like all other Slavic languages, Russian has had its own separate development from the common ancestor of the Slavic languages. Its syntactic structure is considerably different from the other Slavic languages (for example, the verb „to have” is practically absent, the verb „to be” heavily reduced both in form and use), and it is full of words and idioms that cannot be found in any other Slavic language. Without prior knowledge, a West or South Slav is unlikely to understand Russian.
Apart from that, Russian has been imposed upon the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as a lingua franca for a long time, and the effect is that many people, both Slavs and non-Slavs, have developed a strong resistance against Russian, which they have come to associate with „the language of the oppressor”.
At last, would Russian really be the best solution for Polish-Croatian relations?

So how about a Simplified Russian, then?

Russian is a living and standardized language already. Sure, a simplified form of it is imaginable. One might for example get rid of all soft consonants, reduce the number of declensions and conjugations, and eliminate all irregularity. The ultimate result of such actions, however, will be nothing but Russian with mistakes, in other words: bad Russian. In mixed groups, native speakers of the language of communication are always in a more advantageous position than those whose knowledge of it is limited.
Besides, a simplified version of Russian would perhaps be easier to learn and use, but not necessarily easier to understand for those who don't know it, nor would it address any of the other issues.

Interslavic and Esperanto

Another frequently heard point is this: we have Esperanto, so what's the point of yet another artificial language?

Esperanto is a language intended for the whole world, and it has been designed to be as simple and culturally neutral as possible. Although Esperanto has never achieved its goal of becoming a universal second language, it is undeniably the most successful artificial language ever. It has, however, one major flaw: no matter how simple it is, one has to know its grammar and its lexical building blocks pretty well before one can understand it. As a result, Esperanto can be used only for communication with other Esperantists.
Interslavic, on the other hand, was neither designed to be used globally, nor to serve as the language of a community of Interslavic speakers. As far as it can be considered an artificial language at all, it is a so-called zonal auxiliary language, a language designed for communication with or among speakers of a heterogeneous family of languages, in this case the Slavic languages. Speakers of these languages can understand it without even knowing what language they are dealing with. Although Interslavic grammar is admittedly a lot more complex than Esperanto’s, it is extremely easy for speakers of Slavic languages: all they need to know is a few simple tricks for modifying their own languages.
In other words, the benefits of learning Interslavic are of a completely different order than those of learning Esperanto.

Interslavic and Slovio

Before Interslavic was (re)started in 2006 under the name „Slovianski”, there had been dozens of other Slavic-based language projects, but the older ones were obsolete and mostly forgotten, while the more recent ones were underdeveloped one-man projects – with one notorious exception: Slovio, a fairly well-known project with a complete grammar, a large dictionary and a small group of users. Some have asked: why start a new project if there is already one such language around?

Indeed, Slovio and Interslavic are both Slavic-based auxiliary languages, but that is where the similarity ends. Slovio identifies itself with radical pan-Slavism, but simultaneously claims to be „universalju”. Whatever be its true purpose, it is well worth mentioning that Slovio is not very Slavic at all: its grammar is almost entirely based on Esperanto, and its vocabulary, although clearly dominated by (often mutilated) Russian, does not relate in any predictable way to the Slavic languages. Thus, its educational value is practically zero. Because of its artificial and un-Slavic character, Slovio has never gained any acceptation among Slavs, and the project has been practically dead since 2011.
Unlike Slovio, Interslavic is entirely based on common Slavic material. It is neither intended to become a world language, nor to serve as the language of a speaker community, nor to propagate any political ideology. It is merely a tool for communication and education, not a purpose in itself.
Sadly, Slovio's creator has deliberately been spreading false information about other Interslavic projects and even resorted to promoting Slovio under their names. To avoid confusion, it should be emphasised that Interslavic and Slovio are completely unrelated projects. See the disclaimer for a short explanation.

Interslavic and Old Church Slavonic

The common ancestor of all Slavic language, Proto-Slavic, exists only as a scientific extrapolation, but Old Church Slavonic and its various regional offshoots constitute a well-attested language – very similar to Proto-Slavic – that has been used as a written language for Slavs of different nationalities up to the 16th century. It has been argued that this would still make it an excellent candidate for a neutral Slavic umbrella language.

In a way, that is precisely what Interslavic is. It should be remembered, however, that Old Church Slavonic phonology, orthography, grammar and syntax are not only complicated, but also extremely archaic. Much of its vocabulary is no longer used in the contemporary languages, while words for modern concepts are lacking. To get an idea, just see what happens if you try speaking Classical Latin to speakers of French or Italian! To be suitable for modern communication, Old Church Slavonic requires a thorough modernisation, which entails a lot more than just adding words for „airplane” and „television”. Every single element must be held against the prism of the modern Slavic languages and updated accordingly. Each of these modern languages is the result of its own individual development, which explains why words look differently from one language to another and sometimes also have different meanings.
To ensure consistency, we never borrow words directly from these languages. Instead, we compare their various shapes, return to their (Old Slavonic or reconstructed) base forms and take those as a starting point for establishing the largest common denominator according to fixed, majority-based patterns. Thus we create a close approximation of the hypothetical language that might have emerged if the Slavic languages would not have fallen apart into an entire family of languages – or, if you prefer, of what Old Church Slavonic would have become had it been allowed to develop naturally over the centuries.
In other words, Interslavic begins where Old Church Slavonic ends, and can be treated as a modern continuation of it. One could say that the making of Interslavic is essentially the unmaking of developments that made the Slavic languages drift apart.