Slavic languages

The Slavic languages (also called Slavonic languages) are the Indo-European languages spoken by the Slavic peoples. They are thought to descend from a proto-language called Proto-Slavic, spoken during the Early Middle Ages, which in turn is thought to have descended from the earlier Proto-Balto-Slavic language, linking the Slavic languages to the Baltic languages in a Balto-Slavic group within the Indo-European family.

The Slavic languages are divided intro three subgroups: East, West, and South, which together constitute more than 20 languages. Of these, 10 have at least one million speakers and official status as the national languages of the countries in which they are predominantly spoken: Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian (of the East group), Polish, Czech and Slovak (of the West group) and Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian and Bulgarian (of the South group).

The current geographic distribution of natively spoken Slavic languages covers Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Europe and all of the territory of Russia, which includes northern and north-central Asia. Furthermore, the diasporas of many Slavic peoples have established isolated minorities of speakers of their languages all over the world. The number of speakers of all Slavic languages together is estimated to be 315 million.[2][3] Despite the large extent, the individual Slavic languages are considerably less differentiated than Germanic and Romance languages.

Slavic
Slavonic
EthnicitySlavs
Geographic
distribution
Throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Russia
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Proto-languageProto-Slavic
Subdivisions
ISO 639-2 / 5sla
Linguasphere53= (phylozone)
Glottologslav1255[1]
{{{mapalt}}}
Political map of Europe with countries where a Slavic language is a national language marked in shades of green. Wood green represents East Slavic languages, pale green represents West Slavic languages, and sea green represents South Slavic languages.

Branches

Slavic languages tree
Balto-Slavic language tree.

Scholars traditionally divide Slavic languages on the basis of geographical and genealogical principle into three main branches, some of which feature subbranches:

East Slavic
West Slavic
South Slavic

Some linguists speculate that a North Slavic branch has existed as well. The Old Novgorod dialect may have reflected some idiosyncrasies of this group. Mutual intelligibility also plays a role in determining the West, East, and South branches. Speakers of languages within the same branch will in most cases be able to understand each other at least partially, but they are generally unable to across branches (which would be comparable to a native English speaker trying to understand any other Germanic language).

The most obvious differences between the East, West and South Slavic branches are in the orthography of the standard languages: West Slavic languages (and Western South Slavic languages - Croatian and Slovene) are written in the Latin script, and have had more Western European influence due to their proximity and speakers being historically Roman Catholic, whereas the East Slavic and Eastern South Slavic languages are written in Cyrillic and, with Eastern Orthodox or Uniate faith, have had more Greek influence. East Slavic languages such as Russian have, however, during and after Peter the Great's Europeanization campaign, absorbed many words of Latin, French, German, and Italian origin.

The tripartite division of the Slavic languages does not take into account the spoken dialects of each language. Of these, certain so-called transitional dialects and hybrid dialects often bridge the gaps between different languages, showing similarities that do not stand out when comparing Slavic literary (i.e. standard) languages. For example, Slovak (West Slavic) and Ukrainian (East Slavic) are bridged by the Rusyn language/dialect of Eastern Slovakia and Western Ukraine.[4] Similarly, the Croatian Kajkavian dialect is more similar to Slovene than to the standard Croatian language.

Although the Slavic languages diverged from a common proto-language later than any other group of the Indo-European language family, enough differences exist between the various Slavic dialects and languages to make communication between speakers of different Slavic languages difficult. Within the individual Slavic languages, dialects may vary to a lesser degree, as those of Russian, or to a much greater degree, as those of Slovene.

History

Common roots and ancestry

Balto-Slavic lng
Area of Balto-Slavic dialectic continuum (purple) with proposed material cultures correlating to speakers Balto-Slavic in Bronze Age (white). Red dots = archaic Slavic hydronyms

Slavic languages descend from Proto-Slavic, their immediate parent language, ultimately deriving from Proto-Indo-European, the ancestor language of all Indo-European languages, via a Proto-Balto-Slavic stage. During the Proto-Balto-Slavic period a number of exclusive isoglosses in phonology, morphology, lexis, and syntax developed, which makes Slavic and Baltic the closest related of all the Indo-European branches. The secession of the Balto-Slavic dialect ancestral to Proto-Slavic is estimated on archaeological and glottochronological criteria to have occurred sometime in the period 1500–1000 BCE.[5]

A minority of Baltists maintain the view that the Slavic group of languages differs so radically from the neighboring Baltic group (Lithuanian, Latvian, and the now-extinct Old Prussian), that they could not have shared a parent language after the breakup of the Proto-Indo-European continuum about five millennia ago. Substantial advances in Balto-Slavic accentology that occurred in the last three decades, however, make this view very hard to maintain nowadays, especially when one considers that there was most likely no "Proto-Baltic" language and that West Baltic and East Baltic differ from each other as much as each of them does from Proto-Slavic.[6]

Bascanska ploca
Baška tablet, 11th century, Krk, Croatia.

Evolution

The imposition of Church Slavonic on Orthodox Slavs was often at the expense of the vernacular. Says WB Lockwood, a prominent Indo-European linguist, "It (O.C.S) remained in use to modern times but was more and more influenced by the living, evolving languages, so that one distinguishes Bulgarian, Serbian, and Russian varieties. The use of such media hampered the development of the local languages for literary purposes, and when they do appear the first attempts are usually in an artificially mixed style." (148)

Lockwood also notes that these languages have "enriched" themselves by drawing on Church Slavonic for the vocabulary of abstract concepts. The situation in the Catholic countries, where Latin was more important, was different. The Polish Renaissance poet Jan Kochanowski and the Croatian Baroque writers of the 16th century all wrote in their respective vernaculars (though Polish itself had drawn amply on Latin in the same way Russian would eventually draw on Church Slavonic).

Beresta
14th-century Novgorodian children were literate enough to send each other letters written on birch bark.

Although Church Slavonic hampered vernacular literatures, it fostered Slavonic literary activity and abetted linguistic independence from external influences. Only the Croatian vernacular literary tradition nearly matches Church Slavonic in age. It began with the Vinodol Codex and continued through the Renaissance until the codifications of Croatian in 1830, though much of the literature between 1300 and 1500 was written in much the same mixture of the vernacular and Church Slavonic as prevailed in Russia and elsewhere.

The most important early monument of Croatian literacy is the Baška tablet from the late 11th century. It is a large stone tablet found in the small Church of St. Lucy, Jurandvor on the Croatian island of Krk, containing text written mostly in Čakavian dialect in angular Croatian Glagolitic script. The independence of Dubrovnik facilitated the continuity of the tradition.

ZographensisColour
10th–11th century Codex Zographensis, canonical monument of Old Church Slavonic.

More recent foreign influences follow the same general pattern in Slavic languages as elsewhere and are governed by the political relationships of the Slavs. In the 17th century, bourgeois Russian (delovoi jazyk) absorbed German words through direct contacts between Russians and communities of German settlers in Russia. In the era of Peter the Great, close contacts with France invited countless loan words and calques from French, a significant fraction of which not only survived but also replaced older Slavonic loans. In the 19th century, Russian influenced most literary Slavic languages by one means or another.

Differentiation

The Proto-Slavic language existed until around AD 500. 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 manuscripts show a language that contains some phonetic and lexical elements peculiar to Slovene dialects (e.g. rhotacism, the word krilatec). The Freising manuscripts 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.

Slavic languages tree and map from Kushniarevich article
Map and tree of Slavic languages, according to Kassian and A. Dybo

In September 2015, Alexei Kassian and Anna Dybo published,[7] as a part of interdisciplinary study of Slavic ethnogenesis, a lexicostatistical classification of Slavic languages. It was built using qualitative 110-word Swadesh lists that were compiled according to the standards of the Global Lexicostatistical Database project[8] and processed using modern phylogenetic algorithms.

The resulting dated tree complies with the traditional expert views on the Slavic group structure. Kassian-Dybo’s tree suggests that Proto-Slavic first diverged into three branches: Eastern, Western and Southern. The Proto-Slavic break-up is dated to around 100 A.D., which correlates with the archaeological assessment of Slavic population in the early 1st millennium A.D. being spread on a large territory[9] and already not being monolithic.[10] Then, in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., these three Slavic branches almost simultaneously divided into sub-branches, which corresponds to the fast spread of the Slavs through Eastern Europe and the Balkans during the second half of the 1st millennium A.D. (the so-called Slavicization of Europe).[11][12][13][14]

The Slovenian language was excluded from the analysis, as both Ljubljana koine and Literary Slovenian show mixed lexical features of Southern and Western Slavic languages (which could possibly indicate the Western Slavic origin of Slovenian, which for a long time was being influenced on the part of the neighboring Serbo-Croatian dialects), and the quality Swadesh lists were not yet collected for Slovenian dialects. Because of scarcity or unreliability of data, the study also did not cover the so-called Old Novgordian dialect, the Polabian language and some other Slavic lects.

Linguistic history

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. Satemisation:
    • PIE *ḱ, *ǵ, *ǵʰ → *ś, *ź, *źʰ (→ CS *s, *z, *z)
    • PIE *kʷ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ → *k, *g, *gʰ
  2. Ruki rule: Following *r, *u, *k or *i, PIE *s → *š (→ CS *x)
  3. Loss of voiced aspirates: PIE *bʰ, *dʰ, *gʰ → *b, *d, *g
  4. Merger of *o and *a: PIE *a/*o, *ā/*ō → PS *a, *ā (→ CS *o, *a)
  5. 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.)
    2. In a cluster of obstruent (stop or fricative) + another consonant, the obstruent is deleted unless the cluster can occur word-initially.
    3. (occurs later, see below) Monophthongization of diphthongs.
    4. (occurs much later, see below) Elimination of liquid diphthongs (e.g. *er, *ol when not followed immediately by a vowel).
  6. First palatalization: *k, *g, *x → CS *č, *ž, *š (pronounced [], [ʒ], [ʃ] respectively) before a front vocalic sound (*e, *ē, *i, *ī, *j).
  7. Iotation: Consonants are palatalized by an immediately following *j:
    • *sj, *zj → CS *š, *ž
    • *nj, *lj, *rj → CS *ň, *ľ, *ř (pronounced [nʲ lʲ rʲ] or similar)
    • *tj, *dj → CS *ť, *ď (probably palatal stops, e.g. [c ɟ], but developing in different ways depending on the language)
    • *bj, *pj, *mj, *wj → *bľ, *pľ, *mľ, *wľ (the lateral consonant *ľ is mostly lost later on in West Slavic)
  8. Vowel fronting: After *j or some other palatal sound, back vowels are fronted (*a, *ā, *u, *ū, *ai, *au → *e, *ē, *i, *ī, *ei, *eu). This leads to hard/soft alternations in noun and adjective declensions.
  9. Prothesis: Before a word-initial vowel, *j or *w is usually inserted.
  10. Monophthongization: *ai, *au, *ei, *eu, *ū → *ē, *ū, *ī, *jū, *ȳ [ɨː]
  11. Second palatalization: *k, *g, *x → CS *c [ts], *dz, *ś before new *ē (from earlier *ai). *ś later splits into *š (West Slavic), *s (East/South Slavic).
  12. Progressive palatalization (or "third palatalization"): *k, *g, *x → CS *c, *dz, *ś after *i, *ī in certain circumstances.
  13. 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 [æ] but eventually raised to [ie] 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
  14. 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).
  15. Development of phonemic tone and vowel length (independent of vowel quality): Complex developments (see History of accentual developments in Slavic languages).

Features

The Slavic languages are a relatively homogeneous family, compared with other families of Indo-European languages (e.g. Germanic, Romance, and Indo-Iranian). As late as the 10th century AD, the entire Slavic-speaking area still functioned as a single, dialectally differentiated language, termed Common Slavic. Compared with most other Indo-European languages, the Slavic languages are quite conservative, particularly in terms of morphology (the means of inflecting nouns and verbs to indicate grammatical differences). Most Slavic languages have a rich, fusional morphology that conserves much of the inflectional morphology of Proto-Indo-European.[15]

Consonants

The following table shows the inventory of consonants of Late Common Slavic:[16]

Consonants of Late Proto-Slavic
Labial Coronal Palatal Velar
Nasal m n
Plosive p b t d tʲː dʲː k ɡ
Affricate ts dz
Fricative s z ʃ, (1) ʒ x
Trill r
Lateral l
Approximant ʋ j

1The sound /sʲ/ did not occur in West Slavic, where it had developed to /ʃ/.

This inventory of sounds is quite similar to what is found in most modern Slavic languages. The extensive series of palatal consonants, along with the affricates *ts and *dz, developed through a series of palatalizations that happened during the Proto-Slavic period, from earlier sequences either of velar consonants followed by front vowels (e.g. *ke, *ki, *ge, *gi, *xe, and *xi), or of various consonants followed by *j (e.g. *tj, *dj, *sj, *zj, *rj, *lj, *kj, and *gj, where *j is the palatal approximant ([j], the sound of the English letter "y" in "yes" or "you").

The biggest change in this inventory results from a further general palatalization occurring near the end of the Common Slavic period, where all consonants became palatalized before front vowels. This produced a large number of new palatalized (or "soft") sounds, which formed pairs with the corresponding non-palatalized (or "hard") consonants[15] and absorbed the existing palatalized sounds *lʲ *rʲ *nʲ *sʲ. These sounds were best preserved in Russian but were lost to varying degrees in other languages (particularly Czech and Slovak). The following table shows the inventory of modern Russian:

Consonant phonemes of Russian
Labial Dental &
Alveolar
Post-
alveolar
/
Palatal
Velar
hard soft hard soft hard soft hard soft
Nasal m n
Stop p   b   t   d   k   ɡ   ɡʲ
Affricate t͡s (t͡sʲ)   t͡ɕ
Fricative f   v   s   z   ʂ   ʐ ɕː   ʑː x      
Trill r
Approximant l   j

This general process of palatalization did not occur in Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian. As a result, the modern consonant inventory of these languages is nearly identical to the Late Common Slavic inventory.

Late Common Slavic tolerated relatively few consonant clusters. However, as a result of the loss of certain formerly present vowels (the weak yers), the modern Slavic languages allow quite complex clusters, as in the Russian word взблеск [vzblʲesk] ("flash"). Also present in many Slavic languages are clusters rarely found cross-linguistically, as in Russian ртуть [rtutʲ] ("mercury") or Polish mchu [mxu] ("moss", gen. sg.). The word for "mercury" with the initial rt- cluster, for example, is also found in the other East and West Slavic languages, although Slovak retains an epenthetic vowel (ortuť).

Vowels

A typical vowel inventory is as follows:

Front Central Back
Close i (ɨ) u
Mid e o
Open a

The sound [ɨ] occurs only in some languages (Russian and Belarusian), and even in these languages, it is unclear whether it is its own phoneme or an allophone of /i/. Nonetheless, it is a quite prominent and noticeable characteristic of the languages in which it is present.

  • Russian мышь [mɨʂ]  and Polish mysz [mɨʂ] "mouse"

Common Slavic also had two nasal vowels: *ę [ẽ] and *ǫ [õ]. However, these are preserved only in modern Polish (along with a few lesser-known dialects and microlanguages; see Yus for more details).

Other phonemic vowels are found in certain languages (e.g. the schwa /ə/ in Bulgarian and Slovenian, distinct high-mid and low-mid vowels in Slovenian, and the lax front vowel /ɪ/ in Ukrainian).

Length, accent, and tone

An area of great difference among Slavic languages is that of prosody (i.e. syllabic distinctions such as vowel length, accent, and tone). Common Slavic had a complex system of prosody, inherited with little change from Proto-Indo-European. This consisted of phonemic vowel length and a free, mobile pitch accent:

  • All vowels could occur either short or long, and this was phonemic (it could not automatically be predicted from other properties of the word).
  • There was (at most) a single accented syllable per word, distinguished by higher pitch (as in modern Japanese) rather than greater dynamic stress (as in English).
  • Vowels in accented syllables could be pronounced with either a rising or falling tone (i.e. there was pitch accent), and this was phonemic.
  • The accent was free in that it could occur on any syllable and was phonemic.
  • The accent was mobile in that its position could potentially vary among closely related words within a single paradigm (e.g. the accent might land on a different syllable between the nominative and genitive singular of a given word).
  • Even within a given inflectional class (e.g. masculine i-stem nouns), there were multiple accent patterns in which a given word could be inflected. For example, most nouns in a particular inflectional class could follow one of three possible patterns: Either there was consistent accent on the root (pattern A), predominant accent on the ending (pattern B), or accent that moved between root and ending (pattern C). In patterns B and C, the accent in different parts of the paradigm shifted not only in location but also type (rising vs. falling). Each inflectional class had its own version of patterns B and C, which might differ significantly from one inflectional class to another.

The modern languages vary greatly in the extent to which they preserve this system. On one extreme, Serbo-Croatian preserves the system nearly unchanged (even more so in the conservative Chakavian dialect); on the other, Macedonian has basically lost the system in its entirety. Between them are found numerous variations:

  • Slovenian preserves most of the system but has shortened all unaccented syllables and lengthened non-final accented syllables so that vowel length and accent position largely co-occur.
  • Russian and Bulgarian have eliminated distinctive vowel length and tone and converted the accent into a stress accent (as in English) but preserved its position. As a result, the complexity of the mobile accent and the multiple accent patterns still exists (particularly in Russian because it has preserved the Common Slavic noun inflections, while Bulgarian has lost them).
  • Czech and Slovak have preserved phonemic vowel length and converted the distinctive tone of accented syllables into length distinctions. Phonemic accent is otherwise lost, but the former accent patterns are echoed to some extent in corresponding patterns of vowel length/shortness in the root. Paradigms with mobile vowel length/shortness do exist but only in a limited fashion, usually only with the zero-ending forms (nom. sg., acc. sg., and/or gen. pl., depending on inflectional class) having a different length from the other forms. (Czech has a couple of other "mobile" patterns, but they are rare and can usually be substituted with one of the "normal" mobile patterns or a non-mobile pattern.)
  • Old Polish had a system very much like Czech. Modern Polish has lost vowel length, but some former short-long pairs have become distinguished by quality (e.g. [o oː] > [o u]), with the result that some words have vowel-quality changes that exactly mirror the mobile-length patterns in Czech and Slovak.

Grammar

Similarly, Slavic languages have extensive morphophonemic alternations in their derivational and inflectional morphology,[15] including between velar and postalveolar consonants, front and back vowels, and between a vowel and no vowel.[17]

Selected cognates

The following is a very brief selection of cognates in basic vocabulary across the Slavic language family, which may serve to give an idea of the sound changes involved. This is not a list of translations: cognates have a common origin, but their meaning may be shifted and loanwords may have replaced them.

Proto-Slavic Russian Ukrainian Belarusian Polish Czech Slovak Slovene Serbo-Croatian Bulgarian Macedonian
*uxo (ear) ухо (úkho) вухо (vúkho) вуха (vúkha) ucho ucho ucho uho уво / uvo; uho ухо (ukhó) уво (úvo)
*ognь (fire) огонь (ogónʹ) вогонь (vohónʹ) агонь (ahónʹ) ogień oheň oheň ogenj огањ / oganj огън (ógǎn) оган/огин (ógan/ógin)
*ryba (fish) рыба (rýba) риба (rýba) рыба (rýba) ryba ryba ryba riba риба / riba риба (ríba) риба (ríba)
*gnězdo (nest) гнездо (gnezdó) гнiздо (hnizdó) гняздо (hnyazdó) gniazdo hnízdo hniezdo gnezdo гн(иј)ездо / gn(ij)ezdo гнездо (gnezdó) гнездо (gnézdo)
*oko (eye) око (óko) (dated, poetic or in set expressions)
modern: глаз (glaz)
око (óko) вока (vóka) oko oko oko oko око / oko око (óko) око (óko)
*golva (head) голова (golová)
глава (glavá) "chapter or chief, leader, head"
голова (holová) галава (halavá) głowa hlava hlava glava глава / glava глава (glavá) глава (gláva)
*rǫka (hand) рука (ruká) рука (ruká) рука (ruká) ręka ruka ruka roka рука / ruka ръка (rǎká) рака (ráka)
*noktь (night) ночь (nočʹ) ніч (nič) ноч (noč) noc noc noc noč ноћ / noć нощ (nosht) ноќ (noḱ)

Influence on neighboring languages

West slavs 9th-10th c.
West Slav tribes in 9th–10th centuries

Most languages of the former Soviet Union and of some neighbouring countries (for example, Mongolian) are significantly influenced by Russian, especially in vocabulary. The Romanian, Albanian, and Hungarian languages show the influence of the neighboring Slavic nations, especially in vocabulary pertaining to urban life, agriculture, and crafts and trade—the major cultural innovations at times of limited long-range cultural contact. In each one of these languages, Slavic lexical borrowings represent at least 15% of the total vocabulary. However, Romanian has much lower influence from Slavic than Albanian or Hungarian. This is potentially because Slavic tribes crossed and partially settled the territories inhabited by ancient Illyrians and Vlachs on their way to the Balkans.

Although also spoken in neighbouring lands, the Germanic languages show less significant Slavic influence, partly because Slavic migrations were mostly headed south rather than west. Slavic tribes did push westwards into Germanic territory, but borrowing for the most part seems to have been from Germanic to Slavic rather than the other way: for instance, the now-extinct Polabian language was heavily influenced by German, far more than any living Slavic language today. The Slavic contributions to Germanic languages remains a moot question, though Max Vasmer, a specialist in Slavic etymology, has claimed that there were no Slavic loans into Proto-Germanic. The only Germanic languages that shows significant Slavic influence are Yiddish and the historical colonial dialects of German that were spoken East of the Oder–Neisse line, such as Silesian German (formerly spoken in Silesia and South of East Prussia) and the Eastern varieties of East Low German, with the exception of Low Prussian, which had a strong Baltic substratum. Modern Dutch slang, especially the Amsterdam dialect, borrowed much from Yiddish in turn. However, there are isolated Slavic loans (mostly recent) into other Germanic languages. For example, the word for "border" (in modern German Grenze, Dutch grens) was borrowed from the Common Slavic granica. There are, however, many cities and villages of Slavic origin in Eastern Germany, the largest of which are Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden. English derives quark (a kind of cheese, not the subatomic particle) from the German Quark, which in turn is derived from the Slavic tvarog, which means "curd". Many German surnames, particularly in Eastern Germany and Austria, are Slavic in origin. Swedish also has torg (market place) from Old Russian tъrgъ or Polish targ,[18] tolk (interpreter) from Old Slavic tlŭkŭ,[19] and pråm (barge) from West Slavonic pramŭ.[20]

The Czech word robot is now found in most languages worldwide, and the word pistol, probably also from Czech,[21] is found in many European languages, such as Greek πιστόλι.

A well-known Slavic word in almost all European languages is vodka, a borrowing from Russian водка (vodka) – which itself was borrowed from Polish wódka (lit. "little water"), from common Slavic voda ("water", cognate to the English word) with the diminutive ending "-ka".[22][23] Owing to the medieval fur trade with Northern Russia, Pan-European loans from Russian include such familiar words as sable.[24] The English word "vampire" was borrowed (perhaps via French vampire) from German Vampir, in turn derived from Serbian vampir, continuing Proto-Slavic *ǫpyrь,[25][26] although Polish scholar K. Stachowski has argued that the origin of the word is early Slavic *vąpěrь, going back to Turkic oobyr.[27] Several European languages, including English, have borrowed the word polje (meaning "large, flat plain") directly from the former Yugoslav languages (i.e. Slovene, Croatian, and Serbian). During the heyday of the USSR in the 20th century, many more Russian words became known worldwide: da, Soviet, sputnik, perestroika, glasnost, kolkhoz, etc. Also in the English language borrowed from Russian is samovar (lit. "self-boiling") to refer to the specific Russian tea urn.

Detailed list

The following tree for the Slavic languages derives from the Ethnologue report for Slavic languages.[28] It includes the ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-3 codes where available.

East Slavic languages:

West Slavic languages:

South Slavic languages:

Para- and supranational languages

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Slavic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Britannica - Slavic languages
  3. ^ According to the data taken from Anatole V. Lyovin, An Introduction to the Languages of the World, Oxford University Press, New York – Oxford, 1997.
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Rusyn history and culture, p 274, Paul R. Magocsi, Ivan Ivanovich Pop, University of Toronto Press, 2002
  5. ^ cf. Novotná & Blažek (2007) with references. "Classical glottochronology" conducted by Czech Slavist M. Čejka in 1974 dates the Balto-Slavic split to −910±340 BCE, Sergei Starostin in 1994 dates it to 1210 BCE, and "recalibrated glottochronology" conducted by Novotná & Blažek dates it to 1400–1340 BCE. This agrees well with Trziniec-Komarov culture, localized from Silesia to Central Ukraine and dated to the period 1500–1200 BCE.
  6. ^ Kapović (2008, p. 94) "Kako rekosmo, nije sigurno je li uopće bilo prabaltijskoga jezika. Čini se da su dvije posvjedočene, preživjele grane baltijskoga, istočna i zapadna, različite jedna od druge izvorno kao i svaka posebno od praslavenskoga".
  7. ^ Kassian, Alexei, Anna Dybo, «Supplementary Information 2: Linguistics: Datasets; Methods; Results» in: Kushniarevich A, Utevska O, Chuhryaeva M, Agdzhoyan A, Dibirova K, Uktveryte I, et al. (2015) Genetic Heritage of the Balto-Slavic Speaking Populations: A Synthesis of Autosomal, Mitochondrial and Y-Chromosomal Data. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0135820. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135820
  8. ^ http://starling.rinet.ru/new100/main.htm
  9. ^ Sussex, Roland, Paul Cubberley. 2006. The Slavic languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. P.19.
  10. ^ Седов, В. В. 1995. Славяне в раннем средневековье. Москва: Фонд археологии. P. 5
  11. ^ Седов, В. В. 1979. Происхождение и ранняя история славян. Москва: Наука.
  12. ^ Barford, P.M. 2001. The Early Slavs: Culture and Society in Early Medieval Eastern Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  13. ^ Curta F. 2001. The Making of the Slavs: History and Archaeology of the Lower Danube Region, c. 500—700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  14. ^ Heather P. 2010. Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  15. ^ a b c Comrie & Corbett (2002:6)
  16. ^ Schenker (2002:82)
  17. ^ Comrie & Corbett (2002:8)
  18. ^ Hellquist, Elof (1922). "torg". Svensk etymologisk ordbok (in Swedish). Project Runeberg. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  19. ^ Hellquist, Elof (1922). "tolk". Svensk etymologisk ordbok (in Swedish). Project Runeberg. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  20. ^ Hellquist, Elof (1922). "pråm". Svensk etymologisk ordbok (in Swedish). Project Runeberg. Retrieved 2006-12-27.
  21. ^ Titz, Karel (1922). "Naše řeč – Ohlasy husitského válečnictví v Evropě". Československý vědecký ústav vojenský (in Czech): 88. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  22. ^ Harper, Douglas. "vodka". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  23. ^ Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 28 April 2008
  24. ^ Harper, Douglas. "sable". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
  25. ^ cf.: Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm. 16 Bde. [in 32 Teilbänden. Leipzig: S. Hirzel 1854–1960.], s.v. Vampir; Trésor de la Langue Française informatisé; Dauzat, Albert, 1938. Dictionnaire étymologique. Librairie Larousse; Wolfgang Pfeifer, Етymologisches Woerterbuch, 2006, p. 1494; Petar Skok, Etimologijski rjecnk hrvatskoga ili srpskoga jezika, 1971–1974, s.v. Vampir; Tokarev, S.A. et al. 1982. Mify narodov mira. ("Myths of the peoples of the world". A Russian encyclopedia of mythology); Russian Etymological Dictionary by Max Vasmer.
  26. ^ Harper, Douglas. "vampire". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
  27. ^ Stachowski, Kamil. 2005. Wampir na rozdrożach. Etymologia wyrazu upiór – wampir w językach słowiańskich. W: Rocznik Slawistyczny, t. LV, str. 73–92
  28. ^ "Indo-European, Slavic". Language Family Trees. Ethnologue. 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-27.

References

External links

Balto-Slavic languages

The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other Indo-European branch, which points to a period of common development. It is now a general consensus among linguists to classify Baltic and Slavic languages into a single branch, even though some details of the nature of their relationship remain in dispute in some circles, usually due to political controversies. Some linguists (Kortlandt, Derksen) however, have suggested that Balto-Slavic should be split into three equidistant groups: Eastern Baltic, Western Baltic (which is extinct) and Slavic.A Proto-Balto-Slavic language is reconstructable by the comparative method, descending from Proto-Indo-European by means of well-defined sound laws, and out of which modern Slavic and Baltic languages descended. One particularly innovative dialect separated from the Balto-Slavic dialect continuum and became ancestral to the Proto-Slavic language, from which all Slavic languages descended.

Bulgarian language

Bulgarian (listen), (Bulgarian: български bălgarski, pronounced [ˈbɤɫɡɐrski]) is an Indo-European language and a member of the Southern branch of the Slavic language family.

Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language (collectively forming the East South Slavic languages), has several characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages: changes include the elimination of case declension, the development of a suffixed definite article (see Balkan language area), and the lack of a verb infinitive, but it retains and has further developed the Proto-Slavic verb system. Various evidential verb forms exist to express unwitnessed, retold, and doubtful action.

With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Bulgarian became one of the official languages of the European Union.

East Slavic languages

The East Slavic languages constitute one of three regional subgroups of Slavic languages, currently spoken throughout Eastern Europe, Northern Asia, and the Caucasus. It is the group with the largest numbers of speakers, far out-numbering the Western and Southern Slavic groups. The existing East Slavic languages are Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian; Rusyn is considered to be either a separate language or a dialect of Ukrainian.The East Slavic languages descend from a common predecessor, the language of the medieval Kievan Rus' (9th to 13th centuries).

All these languages use the Cyrillic script, but with particular modifications.

El (Cyrillic)

El (Лл) is a letter of the Cyrillic script.

El commonly represents the alveolar lateral approximant /l/. In Slavic languages it may be either palatalized or slightly velarized; see below.

Ge (Cyrillic)

Ge or Ghe (Г г; italics: Г г) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It is also known in some languages as He. It commonly represents the voiced velar plosive /ɡ/, like ⟨g⟩ in "go".

It is generally romanized using the Latin letter G, but to romanize Belarusian, Ukrainian and Rusyn, the Latin letter H is used.

History of the Slavic languages

The history of the Slavic languages stretches over 3000 years, from the point at which the ancestral Proto-Balto-Slavic language broke up (c. 1500 BC) into the modern-day Slavic languages which are today natively spoken in Eastern, Central and Southeastern Europe as well as parts of North Asia and Central Asia.

The first 2000 years or so consist of the pre-Slavic era: a long, stable period of gradual development during which the language remained unified, with no discernible dialectal differences.

The last stage in which the language remained without internal differences can be dated to around 500 AD and is sometimes termed Proto-Slavic proper or Early Proto-Slavic. Following this is the Common Slavic period (c. 500–1000 AD), during which the first dialectal differences appeared but the entire Slavic-speaking area continued to function as a single language, with sound changes tending to spread throughout the entire area.

By around 1000 AD, the area had broken up into separate East Slavic, West Slavic and South Slavic languages, and in the following centuries it broke up further into the various modern Slavic languages, of which the following are extant: Belarusian, Russian, Rusyn and Ukrainian in the East; Czech, Slovak, Polish, Kashubian and the Sorbian languages in the West, and Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian in the South.

The period from the early centuries AD to the end of the Common Slavic period around 1000 AD was a time of rapid change, concurrent with the explosive growth of the Slavic-speaking era. By the end of this period, most of the features of the modern Slavic languages had been established.

The first historical documentation of the Slavic languages is found in isolated names and words in Greek documents starting in the 6th century AD, when Slavic-speaking tribes first came in contact with the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire.

The first continuous texts date from the late 9th century AD and were written in Old Church Slavonic—based on the language of Thessaloniki in Greek Macedonia—as part of the Christianization of the Slavs by Saints Cyril and Methodius and their followers. Because these texts were written during the Common Slavic period, the language they document is close to the ancestral Proto-Slavic language and is critically important to the linguistic reconstruction of Slavic-language history.

This article covers the development of the Slavic languages from the end of the Common Slavic period (c. 1000 AD) to the present time. See the article on Proto-Slavic for a description of the Proto-Slavic language of the late first millennium AD, and History of Proto-Slavic for the earlier linguistic history of this language.

I with grave (Cyrillic)

I with grave (Ѝ ѝ; italics: Ѝ ѝ) is a character representing a stressed variant of the regular letter ⟨И⟩ in some Cyrillic alphabets, but none (either modern or archaic) includes it as a separate letter.

Karst

Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. It has also been documented for more weathering-resistant rocks, such as quartzite, given the right conditions. Subterranean drainage may limit surface water, with few to no rivers or lakes. However, in regions where the dissolved bedrock is covered (perhaps by debris) or confined by one or more superimposed non-soluble rock strata, distinctive karst features may occur only at subsurface levels and be totally missing above ground.

The study of karst is considered of prime importance in petroleum geology because as much as 50% of the world's hydrocarbon reserves are hosted in porous karst systems.

Knaanic language

Knaanic (also called Canaanic, Leshon Knaan, Judaeo-Czech, Judeo-Slavic) is an extinct West Slavic Jewish language, formerly spoken in the lands of the Western Slavs, notably the Czech lands, but also the lands of modern Poland, Lusatia, and other Sorbian regions. It became extinct in the Late Middle Ages.

Lower Sorbian language

Lower Sorbian (dolnoserbšćina) is a Slavic minority language spoken in eastern Germany in the historical province of Lower Lusatia, today part of Brandenburg. It is one of the two literary Sorbian languages, the other being the more lively Upper Sorbian.

Lower Sorbian is spoken in and around the city of Cottbus in Brandenburg. Signs in this region are usually bilingual, and Cottbus has a Gymnasium where one language of instruction is Lower Sorbian. It is a heavily endangered language. Most native speakers are in the oldest generation today.

Pan-Slavic language

A pan-Slavic language is a zonal constructed language for communication among Slavic people.

Slavic

Slavic, Slav or Slavonic may refer to:

Slavic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group living in Europe and Asia

East Slavic peoples, eastern group of Slavic peoples

South Slavic peoples, southern group of Slavic peoples

West Slavic peoples, western group of Slavic peoples

Slavic Americans, Americans of Slavic descent

Pan-Slavic movement, movement in favor of Slavic cooperation and unity

Anti-Slavic sentiment, negative attitude towards Slavic peoples

Slavic studies, a multidisciplinary field of studies focused on history and culture of Slavic peoples

Slavic languages, a group of closely related Indo-European languages

Proto-Slavic language, reconstructed proto-language of all Slavic languages

Old Slavic language, 9th century Slavic literary language

Church Slavic language, Slavic liturgical language used by the Eastern Orthodox Church

East Slavic languages, modern languages of East Slavic peoples

South Slavic languages, modern languages of South Slavic peoples

West Slavic languages, modern languages of West Slavic peoples

Slavic names, names originating from the Slavic languages

Slavic mythology, the mythological aspect of the polytheistic religion that was practised by the Slavs before Christianisation

Slavic dragon, mythological creature in ancient Slavic culture

Slavic Native Faith, modern form of ancient Slavic polytheism

Slavic calendar, traditional Slavic calendar

Slav Defense, a chess opening

Slav (village), a former Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip

Slavic calendar

While many Slavic languages officially use Latin-derived names for the months of the year in the Gregorian calendar, there is also a set of older names for the twelve months that differs from the Latin month names, as they are of Slavic origin. In some languages, such as the Serbian language these traditional names have since been archaized and are thus seldom used.

The original names of the months of the year in the Slavic languages closely follow natural occurrences such as weather patterns and conditions common for that period, as well as agricultural activities.

Many months have several alternative names in different regions.

Slavs

Slavs are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia (Siberia), the Caucasus, and Central Asia (especially Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan), as well as historically in Western Europe (particularly in East Germany) and Western Asia (including Anatolia). From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit the majority of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America, particularly in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration.Slavs are the largest ethno-linguistic group in Europe. Present-day Slavic people are classified into East Slavs (chiefly Belarusians, Russians, Rusyns, and Ukrainians), West Slavs (chiefly Czechs, Kashubs, Moravians, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks and Sorbs), and South Slavs (chiefly Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Gorani, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes).Slavs can be further grouped by religion. Orthodox Christianity is practiced by the majority of Slavs. The Orthodox Slavs include the Belarusians, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Russians, Rusyns, Serbs, and Ukrainians and are defined by Orthodox customs and Cyrillic script, as well as their cultural connection to the Byzantine Empire (Serbs also use Latin script on equal terms). Their second most common religion is Roman Catholicism. The Catholic Slavs include Croats, Czechs, Kashubs, Moravians, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks, Slovenes, and Sorbs and are defined by their Latinate influence and heritage and connection to Western Europe. There are also substantial Protestant and Lutheran minorities especially among the West Slavs, such as the historical Bohemian (Czech) Hussites.

The second-largest religion among the Slavs after Christianity is Islam. Muslim Slavs include the Bosniaks, Pomaks (Bulgarian Muslims), Gorani, Torbeši (Macedonian Muslims), and other Muslims of the former Yugoslavia. Modern Slavic nations and ethnic groups are considerably diverse both genetically and culturally, and relations between them – even within the individual groups – range from ethnic solidarity to mutual hostility.

Slovak language

Slovak or less frequently Slovakian ( (listen)) is a West Slavic language (together with Czech, Polish, and Sorbian). It is called slovenský jazyk (pronounced [ˈslɔʋɛnskiː ˈjazik] (listen)) or slovenčina ([ˈslɔʋɛntʃina]) in the language itself.

Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by approximately 5.51 million people (2014). Slovak speakers are also found in the United States, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Serbia, Ireland, Romania, Poland, Canada, Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Ukraine, Norway and many other countries worldwide.

Slovak should not be confused with Slovene, or Slovenian (slovenski jezik or slovenščina), the main language of Slovenia.

Soft sign

The soft sign (Ь, ь, italics Ь, ь; Russian: мягкий знак Russian pronunciation: [ˈmʲæxʲkʲɪj znak]) also known as the front yer or front er, is a letter of the Cyrillic script. In Old Church Slavonic, it represented a short (or "reduced") front vowel. As with its companion, the back yer ⟨ъ⟩, the vowel phoneme that it designated was later partly dropped and partly merged with other vowels.

Yery (Ыы) has the same trill. In the modern Slavic Cyrillic writing systems (all East Slavic languages and Bulgarian and Church Slavic), it does not represent an individual sound but indicates palatalization of the preceding consonant.

It was also used in the Soviet Union in the Latinized Karelian alphabet, made official in 1931 and used until re-Cyrillicization of Karelian in 1937.

South Slavic languages

The South Slavic languages are one of three branches of the Slavic languages. There are approximately 30 million speakers, mainly in the Balkans. These are separated geographically from speakers of the other two Slavic branches (West and East) by a belt of German, Hungarian and Romanian speakers. The first South Slavic language to be written (also the first attested Slavic language) was the variety spoken in Thessaloniki, now called Old Church Slavonic, in the ninth century. It is retained as a liturgical language in some South Slavic Orthodox churches in the form of various local Church Slavonic traditions.

Upper Sorbian language

Upper Sorbian (hornjoserbšćina) is a minority language spoken by Sorbs in Germany in the historical province of Upper Lusatia, which is today part of Saxony. It is grouped in the West Slavic language branch, together with Lower Sorbian, Czech, Polish, Slovak and Kashubian.

West Slavic languages

The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Silesian, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian.

West Slavic is usually divided into three subgroups based on similarity and degree of mutual intelligibility, Czecho-Slovak, Lechitic and Sorbian, as follows:

Czech–Slovak

Czech

Moravian

Slovak

Lechitic

Polish

Silesian

Polabian †

Pomeranian

Kashubian

Slovincian †

Sorbian (Lusatian)

Upper Sorbian

Lower Sorbian

Slavic languages
History
West Slavic
East Slavic
South Slavic
Constructed
languages
Separate Slavic
dialects and
microlanguages
Historical
phonology

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