Slavic languages, Differentiation

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Summary

The Slavic languages (also called Slavonic languages), a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, much of the Balkans, parts of Central Europe, and the northern part of Asia.

Details

The Proto-Slavic language existed until around 500 AD. By the 7th century, it had broken apart into large dialectal zones.

There are no reliable hypotheses about the nature of the subsequent breakups of West and South Slavic. East Slavic is generally thought to converge to one Old Russian or Old East Slavonic language, which existed until at least the 12th century.

Linguistic differentiation was accelerated by the dispersion of the Slavic peoples over a large territory, which in Central Europe exceeded the current extent of Slavic-speaking majorities. Written documents of the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries already display some local linguistic features. For example the Freising monuments show a language that contains some phonetic and lexical elements peculiar to Slovene dialects (e.g., rhotacism, the word krilatec). The Freising monuments are the first Latin-script continuous text in a Slavic language.

The migration of Slavic speakers into the Balkans in the declining centuries of the Byzantine Empire expanded the area of Slavic speech, but the pre-existing writing (notably Greek) survived in this area. The arrival of the Hungarians in Pannonia in the 9th century interposed non-Slavic speakers between South and West Slavs. Frankish conquests completed the geographical separation between these two groups, also severing the connection between Slavs in Moravia and Lower Austria (Moravians) and those in present-day Styria, Carinthia, East Tyrol in Austria, and in the provinces of modern Slovenia, where the ancestors of the Slovenes settled during first colonisation.

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External Links

  • WikipediaSlavic Script ConverterSlavic dictionaries on Slavic NetSlavistik-PortalSwadesh lists of Slavic basic vocabulary words

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