All Slavic languages: Old Slavonic & modern languages

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by sesperxes, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. sesperxes

    sesperxes Senior Member

    Burgos (Spain)
    Dear foreros,

    could you indicate when your own modern language departed from old Slavonic that seems to be the "Latin" of all Slavic languages?

    Besides (modern) liturgical texts, do exist poetry, documents, chronicles, etc. in Slavonic?

  2. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    If by "Old Slavonic" you mean Old Church Slavonic, that language is not the ancestor of (all, or even most) Slavic languages, only the one earliest attested. It itself had already undergone certain changes from Proto-Slavic.

    Nomenclature differs, by the way. Some linguists use Common Slavic to refer to the last form of Slavic common to all (even including the time when it had already started to show some dialectal diversity), while Proto-Slavic is used for an earlier stage, uniform and closer to the Baltic languages. Others use Proto-Slavic for both of those stages, I think.

    I think that the period from the 9th to the 12th century is usually given as a time frame for the breakup, with some dialectal diversity emerging before that. As for more exact dates, I think we would have to consult specialist literature.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  3. swintok Senior Member

    English - Canada
  4. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Dear sesperxes, I can hardly understand your question.
    First, an excursus. Let us consider two languages, Spanish and Italian.
    They are natural languages.
    Every natural language at a given time may have a set of dialects.
    Every natural language had its early form at any moment of the history.
    We have now Spanish-21 and Italian-21, the corresponding variations of these languages in the 21st century.
    There were Spanish-15 and Italian-15, the corresponding variations of these languages in the 15th century.
    There were Spanish-5 and Italian-5, the corresponding variations of these languages in the 5th century.
    There were Spanish-1 and Italian-1, the corresponding variations of these languages in the 1st century.
    Spanish-1 and Italian-1 coincided, these were two dialects of the same language now called Vulgar Latin.
    Spanish-5 and Italian-5 also coincided, these were two dialects of Vulgar Latin.
    Spanish-15 and Italian-15 were already different languages. I think Spanish and Italian split about 500AD. They split at the same time. However, neither of them has quitted Latin. Both are still new Latin/Romance languages. And, now, we may say that Latin of the 1st century BCE was an old Italian, Italian-1BCE, and an old Spanish,
    Spanish-1BCE, at the same time. Simply, Italian-1BCE and Spanish-1BCE coincided and were called Latin at that time.
    Let us go back to Slavonic.
    We have Russian-XXX, Bulgarian-XXX, Serbian-XXX, Polish-XXX, .., Macedonian-XXX, where XXX is the time designation.
    For the 9th century AD, Russian-9, Bulgarian-9, Serbian-9, Polish-9, .., Macedonian-9 coincided, these were simply local dialects of one language called Slavonic/Slavic or OldSlavonic.
    Russian-10, Bulgarian-10, Serbian-10, Ukrainian-10, .., Macedonian-10 also coincided.
    Russian-12, Bulgarian-12, Serbian-12 were already different languages. Bulgarian-19 and Macedonian-19 coincided. Bulgarian-20 and Macedonian-20 are different languages.
    I hope this might help.
  5. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    It's more completed then that, when is a language a language or a dialect? Ignoring the politics of it comes down to mutual intelligibly, Old Church Slavic wasn’t proto-Slavic it was a south Slavic dialect/language, but it was still at that time completely mutual intelligible to speakers of east and west Slavic dialects/languages. In my mind I think of it as "late south common slavic."
  6. Christo Tamarin

    Christo Tamarin Senior Member

    Old Slavic (Old Slavonic) can be defined in this way: it is Russian-9, Bulgarian-9, Serbian-9, Polish-9, .. => Slavonic-9,Slavic-9. If YYYYYY is a modern language and YYYYYY-9 does not coincide with Slavonic-9 (and with Russian-9, Bulgarian-9, Serbian-9, Polish-9, ..), then YYYYYY is not a Slavic language.

    The Old Slavonic language (i.e. Slavonic-9) is known to us because of the translations of the Holy Bible. Some other texts are also available (Slavic originals and translations from Greek and Latin). Translating the Holy Bible into Slavic required a literary language to be created. This was done based on the south-most dialects, i.e. Bulgarian-9. Actually, these were the Slavic dialects of Constantinople and Salonica. Some scholars use the term Old Slavonic for that literary language only. In my understanding, all Slavic dialects spoken at that time also belong to Old Slavonic. In particular, the gospel translation could be understood by all Slavophones at that time.

    Proto-Slavic is defined in this way: it is Russian-2, Bulgarian-2, Serbian-2, Polish-2, .. => Slavonic-2,Slavic-2. It is the predecessor of Slavic language before opening syllables and before the 2nd and 3rd palatalization. Thus, the only successor-9 of Proto-Slavic (Slavic-2) known to us is Old Slavic (Slavic-9).

    Proto-Slavic (Slavic-2) is a reconstructed language. The reconstruction is reliable enough, more reliable than the reconstruction of Proto-Germanic (of course, Proto-Germanic is older than Slavic-2).

    In the next centuries, in the orthodox Slavophone countries, the literary Old Slavonic language was used both for religious and secular purposes. In the modern times, only the religious usage of that language remained. Meanwhile, that language underwent some phonetic and orthographic changes. Those from Russia are commonly accepted. This language is called Old Church Slavonic or just Church Slavonic. Some scholars use Old Church Slavonic for the literary Old Slavonic of the earliest biblical translations.

    Similarly, Latin is still used in the catholic churches but not with its original pronunciation. Still, the original orthography of Latin is preserved, unlike Slavic. And, most probably, the Latin language keeps intelligibility with the classic times.

    However, the phonetic and orthographic changes of Old Slavonic towards Church Slavonic broke the intelligibility with Slavic-9. These changes are predictable: based on the old form in Slavonic-9, we can "compute" the form in Church Slavonic. The opposite is not true, however: if we know a form of a word in Church Slavonic, we cannot get the same form in Slavonic-9 without linguistic analysis.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
  7. sesperxes

    sesperxes Senior Member

    Burgos (Spain)
  8. sesperxes

    sesperxes Senior Member

    Burgos (Spain)
    Thanks for your explanation: try to understand me too. I understand your point of view and I see that history of Latin and Old Slavic are rather different. Anyway:

    1- in Latin languages we have a day in the 8th-9th century when scholars say that modern Spanish, modern Romanian, modern Italian etc. was born: this day is the date of a written document in wich the differences with classic Latin and church Latin are so strong that linguist decide that the language spoken wasn't any more Latin but Spanish, Catalan....French. Basically the breakpoint is the lost of declension system. Obviously, there is a kind of pride to be the first in this competition of being the oldest Latin language.
    My question was: WHEN was lost intelligibily between Bulgarian, Polish, Macedonian ... Czech. WHEN, for instance, a Croatian who travelled to Minsk had to use Latin or Old Slavic because his native Croatian was so different to Russian?

    2- Latin is not used in Roman Catholic churches since the II Vatican Council (1962-1965). It's the official language of Vatican dogmatic documents, but along with translations into local languages. So, those parallelisms with Old Chuch Slavonic were true fifty years ago, but not now.

    3 - No one who speaks French, Romanian, Spanish or Portuguese understands Latin. People who didn't study it at school are not capable of reading a text in Latin: maybe a few words, maybe a verb, maybe a name, but no one is capable of reading Ceasar's De Bello Gallico or a prayer in Latin without the translation in modern languages. Basically because all modern Latin languages (except Romanian) do not have any kind of declension as Latin had, have articles (and Latin hadn't), have arabic numbers (instead of letters), have changed phonetics according to the different substrata (pre-Romans) and superstrata (Barbarians) and have a lot of loanwords from these different peoples that invaded the Roman Empire (that's basically the reason why a guy from Lisbon - with Iberian, Vandal , Arabic and Alan loanwords - can't understand a guy from Trieste - with Celtic, Longobard, Slavic and Goth loanwords. We see this "little" problem when our "Latin brothers" from Italy come to our Spanish beaches and chat up our girls in...English!).

    4- When in Orthodox churches people listen to "Hvali, duse moia, Gospoda: voshvaliju Gospoda v zivote moem, poju Bogu moemy dondese esm" or "Svijati Boze, Svijati krepki, Svijati besmijerti..." all modern Slavic speakers understand what they say, or do they need a translation? I mean, besides liturgy, can they understand a sentence in Old Slavonic about the price of potatoes in the market and the goals scored last Saturday?

    Thanks for your time.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  9. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Honestly I don't think loss of declension is the major issue that makes classical Latin mutual unintelligible to romance speakers. I'm working my was through wheelock's Latin and the hardest thing for me is the semantic shift of words and vulgar Latin preferring different vocabulary than classical Latin i.e. bellus vs. pulcher. I'm not a native speaker, but my Portuguese is decent.
    I don't see that happening with Spanish and Portuguese thought, at least in Latin America, in Iberia if someones tries to use Spanish while visiting Portugal some Portuguese people might be upset due to a cultural inferiority complex, even if they understand the person speaking Spanish.
    Yes it was used like Latin was in the west, thought in later periods it began to take features of the local speech. If you want to read about this, the wiki article talks about it's uses.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2013
  10. swintok Senior Member

    English - Canada
    There is no objective criteria for determining what is a language and what is a dialect. By it's very nature this is a political question, not a linguistic one. Certainly mutual intelligibility is not a criterion. There are countless examples of "dialects" within the same "language" that are mutually unintelligible.

    Sesperxes: Even church Slavonic is quite difficult for speakers of East Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusan) if they have never been exposed to it. They might get the gist of some parts, but certainly none of the details. Take the phrase "Voshvaliju Gospoda v zivote moem, poju Bogu moemy dondese esm." A Ukrainian with no previous exposure to the Church would understand something about praising the Lord in his stomach!
  11. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    Yes and in this case we are dealing with time as well. I can understand the English of Le Morte d'Arthur but not The Canterbury Tales. I think Church Slavic would have been mutual intelligibly when first introduced after that it continued to evolve along with the local dialect taking features up from the vernacular along the way. Of course like the English examples I used at some point it reached a point were those who had not studied it could not understand it fully.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  12. Lanmi New Member

    Serbian - Serbia
    OCS was just one of the numerous Slavic dialects/languages, but transformed into a literary language. It isn't the ancestor of other languages, since it's dated to 864 and thus far too late to be Proto-Slavic, but rather a formalised variant of the speech of Slavs living near Thessalonike. The best you could hope for is to link it with Bulgarian and Macedonian, but nothing further.
    Its position was not that of Latin.
  13. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English
    If I were to compare it to something I would say it's more like (old) High German. They're both dialects chosen to be standardized into literary languages, OHG like OCS was different from but still mutual intelligible with other dialects. There are historical differences, Charlemagne and his successors never bought all the Germanic people under their empire. Also in the the west Latin was used in the church and government, while eastern Europe at this time had no writing tradition so OCS filled this role. Personally I always wondered why there was never a "Church Germanic," one would think that it would been easier to convert people with then using Latin.
  14. Ben Jamin Senior Member

    I understand the text in OCS quoted by you 100%, but I don't know how much I would understand from a broader quotation. I suppose it would be between 60 and 75%. The case is that you can't predict how much a randomly selected person would understand. It depends on the linguistic education of the individual, linguistic intelligence, amount of books read, age and attitude. I would tip that a hip-hoper/skateboarder, speaker of a west Slavic language, with primary education only, with an average lingusitic IQ, would not understand more than 1% of the text at the first sight, and may be 10% after some effort and time spent to decipher the text.
  15. killerbee256 Senior Member

    American English How much can you read of this?
  16. Maroseika Moderator

    At least for a Russian native 70-80% of the words are quite understandable and general sense of the text is clear almost completely. But Russian is a kind of exception due to the numerous Church-Slavoniс loans in Russian.

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