Slavic languages, Linguistic history

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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 following is a summary of the main changes from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) leading up to the Common Slavic (CS) period immediately following the Proto-Slavic language (PS).

  1. Satem sound changes:
    • PIE *ḱ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ → *ś, *ź, *źʰ (→ CS *s, *z, *z)
    • PIE *kʷ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ → *k, *g, *gʰ
  1. Ruki rule: Following *r, *u, *k or *i, PIE *s → *š (→ CS *x)
  1. Loss of voiced aspirates: PIE *bʰ, *dʰ, *gʰ → *b, *d, *g
  1. Merger of *o and *a: PIE *a/*o, *ā/*ō → PS *a, *ā (→ CS *o, *a)
  1. Law of open syllables: All closed syllables (syllables ending in a consonant) are eventually eliminated, in the following stages:
    1. Nasalization: With *N indicating either *n or *m not immediately followed by a vowel: PIE *aN, *eN, *iN, *oN, *uN → *ą, *ę, *į, *ǫ, *ų (→ CS *ǫ, *ę, *ę, *ǫ, *y). (NOTE: *ą *ę etc. indicates a nasalized vowel.)
    1. In a cluster of obstruent (stop or fricative) + another consonant, the obstruent is deleted unless the cluster can occur word-initially.
    1. (occurs later, see below) Monophthongization of diphthongs.
    1. (occurs much later, see below) Elimination of liquid diphthongs (e.g. *er, *ol when not followed immediately by a vowel).
  1. First palatalization: *k, *g, *x → CS *č, *ž, *š (pronounced , , respectively) before a front vocalic sound (*e, *ē, *i, *ī, *j).
  1. Iotation: Consonants are palatalized by an immediately following *j:
    • *sj, *zj → CS *š, *ž
    • *nj, *lj, *rj → CS *ň, *ľ, *ř (pronounced or similar)
    • *tj, *dj → CS *ť, *ď (probably palatal stops, e.g. , but developing in different ways depending on the language)
  1. Vowel fronting: After *j or some other palatal sound, back vowels are fronted (*a, *ā, *u, *ū, *ai, *au → *e, *ē, *i, *ī, *ei, *e

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u). This leads to hard/soft alternations in noun and adjective declensions.

  1. Prothesis: Before a word-initial vowel, *j or *w is usually inserted.
  1. Monophthongization: *ai, *au, *ei, *eu, *ū → *ē, *ū, *ī, *jū, *ȳ
  1. Second palatalization: *k, *g, *x → CS *c , *dz, *ś before new *ē (from earlier *ai). *ś later splits into *š (West Slavic), *s (East/South Slavic).
  1. Progressive palatalization (or "third palatalization"): *k, *g, *x → CS *c, *dz, *ś after *i, *ī in certain circumstances.
  1. Vowel quality shifts: All pairs of long/short vowels become differentiated as well by vowel quality:
    • *a, *ā → CS *o, *a
    • *e, *ē → CS *e, *ě (originally a low-front sound but eventually raised to in most dialects, developing in divergent ways)
    • *i, *u → CS *ь, *ъ (also written *ĭ, *ŭ; lax vowels as in the English words pit, put)
    • *ī, *ū, *ȳ → CS *i, *u, *y
  1. Elimination of liquid diphthongs: Liquid diphthongs (sequences of vowel plus *l or *r, when not immediately followed by a vowel) are changed so that the syllable becomes open:
    • *or, *ol, *er, *el → *ro, *lo, *re, *le in West Slavic.
    • *or, *ol, *er, *el → *oro, *olo, *ere, *olo in East Slavic.
    • *or, *ol, *er, *el → *rā, *lā, *re, *le in South Slavic.
    • Possibly, *ur, *ul, *ir, *il → syllabic *r, *l, *ř, *ľ (then develops in divergent ways).
  1. Development of phonemic tone and vowel length (independent of vowel quality): Complex developments (see History of accentual developments in Slavic languages).

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External Links

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

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