Proto-Slavic is the proto-language from which Old Church Slavonic and all the other Slavic languages later emerged. It was spoken before the seventh century. No Proto-Slavic writings have been found, so the language has been reconstructed by applying the comparative method to all the attested Slavic languages and other Indo-European languages.
The original homeland of the speakers of Proto-Slavic also remains controversial. The most ancient recognisably Slavic hydronyms (river names) are to be found in northern and western Ukraine and southern Belarus (see map). It has also been noted that Proto-Slavic seemingly lacked a maritime vocabulary.
The Proto-Slavic language existed approximately to the middle of the first millennium AD. By the 7th century, it had broken apart into large dialectal zones. Linguistic differentiation received impetus from the dispersion of the Slavic peoples over large territory - which in Central Europe exceeded the current extent of Slavic-speaking majorities. Written documents of the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries already have some local linguistic features. For example the Freising monuments show a language which contains some phonetic and lexical elements peculiar to Slovenian dialects (e.g. rhotacism, the word krilatec).
In the second half of the ninth century, the dialect spoken north of Thessaloniki became the basis for first written Slavic language, created by the brothers Cyril and Methodius who translated portions of the Bible and other church books. The language they recorded is known as Old Church Slavonic. Old Church Slavonic is not identical to Proto-Slavic, having been recorded at least two centuries after the breakup of Proto-Slavic, and it shows features that clearly distinguish it from Proto-Slavic. However, it is still reasonably close, and the mutual intellegibility between Old Church Slavonic and other Slavic dialects of those days was proved by Cyril's and Methodius' mission to Great Moravia and Pannonia. There, their early South Slavic dialect used for the translations was clearly understandable to the local population which spoke an early West Slavic dialect.
There were 11 vowels in Late Proto-Slavic: i, ь, e, ę, ě, a, o, ǫ , ъ, y, u. Explanations:
- ь, ъ - yers, or ultrashort vowels, probably close to IPA [ɪ], [ɯ] respectively, and sometimes written ĭ, ŭ;
- ę, ǫ
- nasal e, o;
- ě - yat, long vowel pronounced probably like [æː];
- y - long vowel pronounced probably like [ɯː]; according to some scholars, Template:Who it was the diphthong [ɯi] instead;
- i, a, u were long vowels;
- e, o were short vowels;
- existence of syllabic sonorants in Proto-Slavic is not generally accepted, they may have developed only in individual Slavic dialects (as many believe, no syllabic sonorants were in East Slavic dialects); many scholars postulate the group ъl, ьl, ъr, ьr instead of the syllabic sonorants l̥, ĺ̥, r̥, ŕ̥
|consonants||labial||dental||palatalized dental||alveolar||palatalized alveolar||palatal||velar|
|stops||p, b||t, d||k, g|
|affricates||c, ʒ||č, ǯ|
|fricatives||v||s, z||s’||š, ž||x|
- x means a velar fricative, similar to Scottish ch;
- v must have been labial and similar to English w; the symbol v, however, is widely used;
- s’ is reconstructed on the basis of West Slavic š = East and South Slavic s;
- c means the affricate [t̠͡ɕ], therefore neither the same as the IPA [c] nor as [ts];
means its voiced counterpart [d͡ʑ],
- š, č, ž and ǯ
mean IPA [ʃ], [ʧ], [ʒ] and [ʤ] respectively; all these symbols are in common use in Slavistics.
Origin of vowels
- i1 < PIE *ī, *ei;
- i2 < reduced *ai (*ăi or *ui) < PIE *ai, *oi;
- ь < *i < PIE *i;
- e < PIE *e;
- ę < PIE *en, *em;
- ě1 < PIE *ē,
- ě2 < *ai < PIE *ai, *oi;
- a < *ā < PIE *ā, *ō;
- o < *a < PIE *a, *o, *ə;
< *an, *am < PIE *an, *on, *am, *om;
- ъ < *u < PIE *u;
- y < PIE *ū;
- u < *au < PIE *au, *ou.
- The vowels i2, ě2 developed later than i1, ě1. In Late Proto-Slavic there were no differences in pronunciation between i1 and i2 as well as between ě1 and ě2. They had caused, however, different changes of preceding velars, see below.
- Late Proto-Slavic yers ь, ъ < earlier i, u developed also from reduced PIE *e, *o respectively. The reduction was probably a morphologic process rather than phonetic.
- We can observe similar reduction of *ā into *ū (and finally y) in some endings, esp. in closed syllables.
- The development of the Proto-Slavic i2 was also a morphologic phenomenon as it originated only in some endings.
- Another source of the Proto-Slavic y is *ō in Germanic loanwords - the borrowings took place when Proto-Slavic had not ō in native words any longer, as PIE *ō had already changed into *ā.
- PIE *ə disappeared without traces when in a non-initial syllable.
- PIE *eu probably developed into *jau in Early Proto-Slavic (or: during the Balto-Slavic epoch), and eventually into Proto-Slavic *ju.
- According to some authors, PIE long diphthongs *ēi, *āi, *ōi, *ēu, *āu, *ōu had twofold development in Early Proto-Slavic, namely they shortened in endings into simple *ei, *ai, *oi, *eu, *au, *ou but they lost their second element elsewhere and changed into *ē, *ā, *ō with further development like above.
Other vocalic changes
- *jo, *jъ, *jy changed into *je, *jь, *ji;
- *o, *ъ, *y also changed into *e, *ь, *i after *c, *ʒ
, *s’ which developed as the result of the 3rd palatalization;
- *e, *ě changed into *o, *a after *č, ǯ
, *š, *ž in some contexts / words;
- a similar change of *ě into *a after *j seems to have occurred in Proto-Slavic but next it can have been modified by analogy.
Origin of consonants
- p < PIE *p;
- b < PIE *b, *bʰ
- t < PIE *t;
- d < PIE *d, *dʰ
- k < PIE *k, *kʷ
- g < PIE *g, *gʰ, *gʷ, *gʷʰ
- s < PIE *s, *ḱ
- z < PIE *ǵ, *ǵʰ,
*s [z] before a voiced consonant;
- x < PIE *s before a vowel when after *r, *u, *k, *i, probably also after *l; see Ruki;
- m < PIE *m;
- n < PIE *n;
- l < PIE *l;
- r < PIE *r;
- v < PIE *w;
- j < PIE *j.
In some words the Proto-Slavic x developed from other PIE phonemes, like *kH, *ks, *sk.
- c < k in the 2nd palatalization;
< g in the 2nd palatalization;
- s’ < x in the 2nd palatalization;
- č < kj and k in the 1st palatalization;
- šč < stj, skj and sk in the 1st palatalization;
< zdj, zgj and zg in the 1st palatalization;
- š < sj, xj and x in the 1st palatalization;
- ž < zj, gj and g in the 1st palatalization;
- initial j originated before the front vowels e, ě, ę (and before ь, i in some dialects).
- The 1st palatalization
- *k, *g, *x > *č, *ǯ
, *š before *i1, *ě1, *e, *ę, *ь;
- next ǯ
changed into ž everywhere except after z;
- *kt, *gt > *tj before *i1, *ě1, *e, *ę, *ь (there are only examples for *kti).
- The 2nd palatalization
- *k, *g, *x > *c, *ʒ
, *s’ before *i2, *ě2;
- *s’ mixed with s or š in individual Slavic dialects;
simplified into z, except Polish;
- also *kv, *gv, *xv > *cv, *ʒv
, *s’v before *i2, *ě2 in some dialects (not in West Slavic and probably not in East Slavic - Russian examples may be of South Slavic origin);
- as it seems, the 2nd palatalization did not occur in old northern Russian dialects.
- The 3rd palatalization
- *k, *g, *x > *c, *ʒ
, *s’ after front vowels (*i, *ь, *ě, *e, *ę) and *ьr (= *ŕ̥ ), before a vowel;
- it was progressive contrary to the 1st and the 2nd palatalization;
- it occurred inconsistently, only in certain words, and sometimes it was limited to some Proto-Slavic dialects;
- sometimes a palatalized form and a non-palatalized one existed side-by-side even within the same dialect (ex. Old Church Slavonic sikъ || sicь 'such');
- in fact, no examples are known for the 3rd palatalization after *ě, *e, and (few) examples after *ŕ̥
are limited to Old Church Slavonic.
- Consonants + j
- *sj, *zj > *š, *ž;
- *stj, *zdj > *šč, *žǯ
- *kj, *gj, *xj > *č, *ǯ
, *š (next *ǯ
- *skj, *zgj > *šč, *žǯ
- *tj, *dj had been preserved and developed variously in individual Slavic dialects;
- *rj, *lj, *nj had been preserved until the end of the Proto-Slavic epoch, next developed into palatalized *ŕ, *ĺ, *ń;
- *pj, *bj, *vj, *mj had been preserved until the end of the Proto-Slavic epoch, next developed into *pĺ, *bĺ, *vĺ, *mĺ in most Slavic dialects (except Western Slavic).
The lexical stock of Proto-Slavic also includes a number of loanwords from the languages of various tribes and peoples that the Proto-Slavs came into contact with. However, the list of the borrowings, their sources and other details are under discussion. According to most sources, the earliest traceable lexical or semantic borrowings were loans from the Northeastern Iranian languages spoken by the Scythian, Alanian, and Sarmatian tribes. Most of these borrowings appertain to the religious sphere: *bogъ 'God', *gatati 'to divine', *divъ 'demon', *rajь 'paradise', *svętъ 'saint, holy' Template:Dubious. Yet non-religious terms such as *(j)aščerъ 'serpent'Template:Dubious, *patriti 'to look after', *radi 'for the purpose of', *sobaka 'dog', *toporъ 'axe', *xvala 'glory' and (at least according to some scholars) *xata 'hut, house' are also of Iranian origin.
It is generally acknowledged that of the various languages which left their mark on the early lexical stock, Germanic occupies a pivotal position, and many early Germanic loanwords into Proto-Slavic are known.
Examples of early Germanic loanwords: *xlěbъ 'bread', *xlěvъ 'pigsty', *měčь 'sword', *stьklo 'glass', *šelmъ 'helmet', *xъlmъ 'hill', *plugъ 'plough', *skotъ 'cattle', possibly also *melko 'milk', *xyzъ/*xyzja 'hut' (< PGmc. *hūs). The words *lěkъ 'medicine' and *tynъ 'fence' were borrowed from Germanic (cf. Goth. lēkeis 'physician'; PGmc. *tūnaz), but are believed to be originally of Celtic origin.
Later Germanic (Gothic and Old High German) borrowings are *pěnęʒь 'penny, money', *kъnęʒь 'king, prince, priest' (< OHG kuning), *istъba 'room, apartment' (< OHG stuba), *bjudo 'bowl, basin; table', *bukъ 'beech-tree', *tjudjь 'foreign, stranger, somebody else's' (< Gothic *þiuda 'people'), *smoky 'fig', *opica 'monkey' (< OHG affo).
Germanic also transmitted some Latin and Greek loans into Slavic:
- Latin: *kupiti 'to buy' (Goth. kaupōn from Lat. caupō 'merchant', ultimately from Etruscan), *dъska 'board' (< Lat. discus through OHG tisk), *kotьlъ 'kettle', *cěsarjь 'king, imperator', *krьstъ 'cross' (< Lat. Chrīstus through OHG Krist), *čeršn'a 'cherry' (Popular Lat. ceresia, Old Bavarian chersia), *osьlъ 'ass, donkey' (Lat. asinus, Goth. asilus);
- Greek (with Gothic mediation): *cьrky 'church', *velьbǫdъ
'camel' (< Gk. elephas 'elephant' through Goth. ulbandus);
- Latin: *konopja (< Popular Lat. *canapis), *vino 'wine' (< Lat. vīnum), *poganъ 'pagan' (< pagānus), *kоlęda 'carol' (< Lat. calendae);
- Greek: *korabjь 'ship' (Byzantine Gk. karábion), *polata 'abode' (Byzantine Gk. palátion 'palace', *popъ 'priest', *sǫbota
'Sabbath' (Byzantine Gk. sámbaton).
There is a number of local Slavic words which are suspected to be of Turkic origin: *kobyla 'mare', *xomǫto 'horse's yoke', *gatь 'dam', *kъnęga/*kъniga 'book'Template:Dubious, *kovъčegъ 'box', *kolpakъ/klobukъ 'hat/cowl'.
Some words may also have originated from Dacian/North Thracian languages ; e.g., *mogyla 'kurgan, tomb, grave' is considered etymologically uncertain but has been compared to Albanian magulë 'hill' and Romanian măgură 'hill, elevation'.
Loanwords in Proto-Slavic lexical stock are outlined in Schenker (1996): 159-160.
|East Slavic||Belarusian | Old East Slavic† | Old Novgorod dialect† | Russian | Rusyn (Carpathians) | Ruthenian† | Ukrainian|
|West Slavic||Czech | Kashubian | Knaanic† | Lower Sorbian | Pannonian Rusyn | Polabian† | Polish | Pomeranian† | Slovak | Slovincian† | Upper Sorbian|
|South Slavic||Banat Bulgarian | Bulgarian | Church Slavic | Macedonian | Old Church Slavonic† | Serbo-Croatian (Bosnian, Bunjevac, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian) | Slavic (Greece) | Slovenian|
|Other||Proto-Slavic† | Russenorsk† | Slavoserbian† ||